Harry T. Whelan, MD, believes in a translational patient care philosophy of bringing the latest research discoveries from his laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.
Dr. Whelan is the Bleser Family Endowed Chair in Neurology, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Professor of Neurology (Pediatrics), director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, and recipient of the Neuro-Oncology American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award from Vanderbilt University. He has been inducted into the NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame for his research into the use of near-infrared light for wound healing and the treatment of brain tumors and neurofibromatosis using photodynamic therapy.
In a multiyear investigation approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Whelan studied the use of Near-infrared Light to promote healing of mucositis from chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer in children. Dr. Whelan found that diabetic skin ulcers and other wounds in mice healed much faster when exposed to the special LEDs in the lab. Near-infrared light stimulates improved energy metabolism in the mitochondria, leading to treatment for mitochondrial diseases which affect the brain, eye, heart and muscle. Dr. Whelan also is funded by the National Institutes of Health in a study of neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury and other childhood traumas. He also conducted a pilot study supported in part by the Clinical Translational Science Institute of near-infrared light therapy for diabetic macular edema, a form of diabetic eye disease.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding his research in neurological ischemia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), reperfusion and stroke, which affects many children with congenital heart disease. Dr. Whelan presented this translational bench-to-bedside research to the United States Congress at the NASA Spin-off Day on Capitol Hill as an example of how space research is helping patients.
Dr. Whelan holds the rank of Captain and is a Diving Medical Officer in the U.S. Navy, a consultant to the Navy Experimental Diving Unit with clinical and research experience in Hyperbaric Medicine, wound care and combat casualty care. He has over 100 publications, including cancer, laser, LED and diving/hyperbaric studies.
Dr. Whelan in the news...
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology