In Memoriam: Dr. Beverly Britt

Nov 1, 2016

Dr. Beverly Britt passed away peacefully last week after a courageous battle with cancer at her house in Wales, close to her beloved garden. Dr. Britt, an internationally recognized authority on malignant hyperthermia (MH), worked as an anesthesiologist at Toronto General Hospital (1960-1996). She was also a Full Professor with the Department of Anesthesia, University of Toronto. While caring for a patient who survived an MH event in early 60-s, she recognized how little was known about MH at the time and embarked on clinical and epidemiologic studies of this potentially fatal syndrome. She partnered with a well-known Canadian pharmacologist, Werner Kalow (1917-2008), to develop a preoperative diagnostic testing for MH susceptibility. Their research was the basis for the North American caffeine-halothane contracture test (CHCT) and the European in vitro contracture test (IVCT) that are performed in MH centers around the world today.

Dr. Britt introduced and worked with the porcine model of MH to better understand MH triggers and recognize the early signs of MH. She established the MH Investigation Center (MHIU) in Toronto that became the first MH diagnostic center in the world. She organized and held the very first international conference on MH in Toronto in 1971 and was an enthusiastic organizer and participant of many further international MH meetings. Her numerous papers on MH etiology and pathophysiology contain a tremendous amount of meticulously collected data and remain a source of stimulating ideas for new generations of MH researchers. Dr. Britt delivered numerous talks and lectures all over the world raising awareness of MH and stimulating creation of MH diagnostic centers in Europe and the US. Even though she retired in 1996, the MH center she created, the MHIU at the TGH, continues to be one of the leading MH diagnostic and research centers in the world. Dr. Beverly Britt, who devoted her life to unraveling the biochemical and genetic causes of MH and made a tremendous contribution to the field, remains a legend in the world of MH.

She was cremated in Wales, and in her will she stated to proceed memorial donations to the Malignant Hyperthermia Education Research Innovation Fund, at Toronto General Hospital, MH investigation unit (323-200 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4).

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