Associate Professor, Paediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences; Attending Paediatric Neurologist, Alberta Children's Hospital; Director, Calgary Paediatric Stroke Program
Division of Neurology
Alberta Children's Hospital
C1-320, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW
Calgary, AB, Canada T3B 6A8
Dr. Kirton is an attending Pediatric Neurologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He obtained his MD from Queen’s University, earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Calgary, and completed his FRCPC residency training in Pediatric Neurology at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He then completed a Clinical Research Fellowship in Pediatric Stroke at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto before assuming his current faculty position in Calgary in 2007.
Dr. Kirton founded and directs the Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program, Alberta Perinatal Stroke Project, and ACH Pediatric Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Laboratory. Collectively, these programs constitute a comprehensive clinical research operation spanning translational, applied technologies research to the delivery of best care to children and families affected by stroke early in life. His research focuses on perinatal stroke with two major aims. One is to understand why such strokes occur and develop means to prevent them. The other uses advanced technologies including neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation to measure the response of the developing brain to early injury and generate new therapies.
In 2009, Dr. Kirton established the ACH Pediatric Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Laboratory, the first facility of its kind in Canada. Brain stimulation technologies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) bring a remarkable capacity to measure and "map" how a child's brain recovers from injuries like stroke. They also possess exciting therapeutic potential whereby repetitive TMS and other stimulation approaches may help guide a child's brain development toward better function. Building this program has lead to cross-cutting pediatric collaborations in depression, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain and others. Dr. Kirton now leads the Non-invasive Neurostimulation Network (N3) at the University of Calgary. In 2010, he established the ACH Pediatric Stroke Neuroimaging Analysis Laboratory where the ACH 3T Research MRI and advanced brain imaging technologies improving the understanding of how young brains recover from early injuries like perinatal stroke. These advanced technologies have combined to generate the first therapeutic trails of brain stimulation in children with cerebral palsy, two of which are now completed and suggest that non-invasive brain stimulation can enhance function in affected children.
The Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program (CPSP) provides children with cerebrovascular disease and their families with state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment, education, and family support while providing the opportunity to participate in leading clinical research initiatives. The CPSP has enrolled >400 children with provincial initiatives expanding to >1000 Alberta families by 2016. Areas of clinical research activity focus on stroke in the fetus and newborn, a leading cause of cerebral palsy. Active projects include: clinical, prothrombotic, genetic, and biomarker risk profiles; epidemiology of perinatal stroke syndromes; placental disease in perinatal stroke; advanced neuroimaging to predict stroke outcomes; developmental neurorehabilitation; and the measurement and modulation of brain plasticity systems after perinatal stroke. Ongoing provincial collaborations are creating the largest population-based sample of perinatal stroke ever studied through the Alberta Perinatal Stroke Project (APSP). Dr. Kirton is also a co-investigator on many NIH-funded international research studies in childhood stroke. He chairs the Perinatal Stroke Working Group for the International Pediatric Stroke Study (IPSS), a global research initiative in childhood stroke now spanning >100 centres in >50 countries. The CPSP team also conducts quality improvement and psychology research to better understand the educational and support needs of pediatric stroke families.
After 8 years on faculty, he has authoured >110 peer-reviewed research articles, >15 book chapters (editing the 1st textbook on pediatric brain stimulation in 2016), and given >60 international invited presentations. He leads a large team of dedicated clinical, research professionals and has supervised and mentored >50 research trainees at all levels. He has received numerous awards for his clinical and research work including the President’s Prize from the Canadian Association of Child Neurology, Research Maverick Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, both the Dr. Robert Haslam and Dr. Sam Darwish Clinical Teaching Awards, Innovation Awards from both the Canadian Stroke Congress and Department of Pediatrics, Calgary Top 40 under 40 (Avenue Magazine), and the 2015 President’s Excellence Prize in Research from Alberta Health Services. Dr. Kirton has been awarded many external peer-reviewed research grants (>$18M as PI) but is most excited about his recent Foundations award from CIHR entitled: The Alberta Perinatal Stroke Program: Neuromodulation to Optimize Outcomes. This large investment over 7 years promises to advance progress faster than ever and realize many new discoveries that will improve the lives of the thousands of Canadian children and their families affected by pediatric stroke.
Paediatric cerebrovascular disease