Gideon Koren

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Gideon Koren, FACMT, FRCP(C) (Hebrew: גדעון קורן; born August 27, 1947 in Tel Aviv, Mandatory Palestine (now in Israel) is an Israeli-Canadian pediatrician, clinical pharmacologist, toxicologist, and a composer of Israeli popular music.

Koren is perhaps best known for being at the centre of the Motherisk scandal[1] which has thrown into doubt the findings of 16,000 child protection cases and six criminal cases. An independent review found that neither the laboratory's director, clinical toxicologist Gideon Koren, nor his staff, had the qualifications or expertise to do that kind of forensic work.[2]

Prior to this Koren was officially reprimanded by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons for writing harassing anonymous letters to Nancy Olivieri and three other colleagues, about which he then lied repeatedly to conceal his responsibility. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons also cited him for additional misconduct in research.[3][4]

On December 16, 2018, an investigative article in The Toronto Star reported apparent problems in more than 400 papers coauthored by Koren, including that the papers "[were] inadequately peer-reviewed, fail to declare, perhaps even obscure, conflicts of interest and, in a handful of cases, contain lies about the methodology.”[5] In 2019 Koren threatened a defamation lawsuit against the editor of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring for retracting one of Koren's papers.[6]

In February 2019, Koren agreed to relinquish his licence to practice medicine in Ontario in the face of an investigation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons into whether he committed “professional misconduct or was incompetent” while he was in charge of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk laboratory. He also agreed never to re-apply for a medical licence in the province.[7]


Early life and academic background[edit]

Born in 1947 in Tel Aviv in the British Mandate of Palestine, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, Koren was raised in the neighbouring town of Kiryat Ono. His father was the chief engineer of Reading Power Station of the Israel Electric Corporation.

Koren received his Doctor of Medicine from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in 1973. After a period of military service, he pursued postgraduate clinical studies in pediatrics and pediatric nephrology, and research training in pediatric toxicology and pharmacology and membrane biology at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto. He joined the staff of the university and hospital, ultimately attaining the rank of professor. He later received the endowed Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at the Schulich School of Medicine at The University of Western Ontario. At UWO, he participated in the establishment of a national program in human toxicology, in parallel with his continuing work at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children.[8]

Arts background[edit]

In parallel to his academic career, Koren is an established composer and author. In 1971, while studying medicine at TAU, Gideon "Gidi" Koren founded the Israeli musical group, The Brothers & the Sisters (ha'achim veha'achayot), which features an Israeli folk/country style. The band performed many of Koren's songs and musical plays for children.[9][10][11]

In 1974, in collaboration with Israeli performer Shlomo Artzi, Koren composed a record album based on his grandmother Keri's story, A Journey to Noteland. A musical based on the book and CD of A Journey to Noteland had its stage debut in Israel in 2008 and continues to be performed.[12]

In 1992 Koren founded the Bear Theatre at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In July 2007 the theatre celebrated 15 years and 750 shows.[13][14][15]

In 2005, The Brothers & The Sisters toured North America following the publication of a commemorative Hebrew-English book of the Israeli poet Natan Yonatan’s poetry, accompanied by a CD of his songs, set to music by Koren and performed by the band.[16][17] The Brothers and the Sisters continue to perform throughout Israel in programs featuring Koren's songs, many of which were written to the words of Israeli poets, including Yehudah Amichai, Leah Goldberg, Rachel, Amir Gilboa, and Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Professional contributions[edit]

In 1985, Koren founded The Hospital for Sick Children's Motherisk Program in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which he directed until his retirement in June 2015.[18] The program has since been shut down amid controversy.[19]


Koren has published 15 medical books,[20] among them:

  • Retinoids in Clinical Practice: The Risk-Benefit Ratio (Medical Toxicology). New York: M. Dekker, 1993. (ISBN 0824787781)
  • The Children of Neverland: The Silent Human Disaster. Toronto: Kid in Us, 1997. (ISBN 0968180108)
  • The Complete Guide to Everyday Risks in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Answers to Your Questions About Morning Sickness, Medications, Herbs, Diseases, Chemical Exposures & More. Toronto: R. Rose, 2004. (ISBN 0-7788-0084-9)
  • Medication Safety in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. New York: McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division, 2007. (ISBN 0071448284)
  • Medication Safety in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: The Evidence-Based, A to Z Clinician's Pocket Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2007. (ISBN 0071448276)

Deferiprone controversy[edit]

In 1996, a controversy erupted with regard to the safety and effectiveness of deferiprone. Koren believed the drug was effective for certain patients.[21] Olivieri of Toronto believed the drug was unsafe and ineffective.[22] Following the initial controversy surrounding this drug trial in Toronto, Koren sent five anonymous harassing letters to colleagues and later denied having done so.[23] Two independent inquiries by the CAUT and CPSO found that Koren had lied about sending the anonymous letters and only admitted guilt when confronted with DNA evidence against him.[24][25] Both also found academic misconduct with respect to the way in which Koren published the research article cited above on the safety and effectiveness of deferiprone. CAUT accepted "the parties’ submissions that this misconduct should not be represented as fraudulent" and further remarked that "It was the behaviour that preceded the research misconduct that the Committee found most unsettling."

A later study reported no evidence of that long-term therapy with deferiprone caused progression of hepatic fibrosis.[26] Cumulative worldwide experience has confirmed Koren's position on deferiprone, indicating that deferiprone is safe and effective for some patients.[27] As a direct result of Olivieri's public media campaign, approval for the medication was stalled,[28] meaning that North American children continued to be denied a medication which had since been approved around the world in dozens of countries[29] and could be the only hope for survival for some children.[30][31][32][33][34]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

  • Ontario Ministry of Health Career Scientist, 1986
  • American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Rawls-Palmer Progress in Medicine Award, 1997
  • International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Irving Sunshine Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Toxicology, 1999
  • Canadian Society for Clinical Pharmacology Distinguished Achievement Award, 2002
  • International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Pippenger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Toxicology, 2003
  • Distinguished Scientist, Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, 2010
  • Sumner J. Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group, 2012
  • CIHR/CMAJ Top Achievements in Health Research Award, 2011[35]


Selected list of positions held as of 2010[36][37][38][39] Koren retired from the Hospital for Sick Children in June 2015.:[18]

  • Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology, University of Western Ontario
  • Holder, The Research Leadership for Better Pharmacotherapy during Pregnancy and Lactation, Hospital for Sick Children
  • Founder and Head, Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise (FACE)[40]
  • Chair, Steering Committee, Breaking the Cycle, Toronto[41]
  • Editor in Chief (North America), Therapeutic Drug Monitoring[42]
  • Editor in Chief, Fetal Alcohol Research (FAR)[43]
  • Director of Research, The Canadian Foundation on Fetal Alcohol Research (CFFAR), 2008–present[44]
  • Director, playwright and producer of Tails in the Bear Theatre (Hospital for Sick Children) 1992–present[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  2. ^ "From Charles Smith to Motherisk: The importance of questioning 'expert' testimony". Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  3. ^ "Koren Reprimanded by Ontario College of Physicians & Surgeons". Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  4. ^ Gallant, Jacques (2014-11-22). "How prominent doctor built the Hospital for Sick Children's Motherisk program into a leading world authority on drugs and pregnant and lactating women". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  5. ^ Mendelson, Rachel; Henry, Michele; Bailey, Andrew (2018-12-21). "Inside the flawed world of medical publishing that allowed a lie in a paper coauthored by Dr. Gideon Koren to pollute the scientific record". The Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  6. ^ Oransky, Ivan (2019-02-19). "Controversial pediatrics researcher has 20-year-old paper retracted for misconduct". Retraction Watch. Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  7. ^ Gallant, Jacques (February 22, 2019). "Former head of Sick Kids' Motherisk lab gives up medical licence amid investigation". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology - Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Gidi Koren". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  10. ^ "The Tales of Shubi Dubi". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  11. ^ Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "-". City Mouse. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Reassuring message helps young patients". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-03-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Songs Carved Into Cliffs". Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  17. ^ Archived from the original on November 21, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ a b "Sick Kids Hospital, Motherisk director point fingers at each other in class-action lawsuit | the Star".
  19. ^ "SickKids shuts down Motherisk drug-testing program". Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  20. ^ "The Hospital for Sick Children - Motherisk". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  21. ^ Diav-Citrin O, Atanackovic G, Koren G (February 1999). "An investigation into variability in the therapeutic response to deferiprone in patients with thalassemia major". Therapeutic Drug Monitoring. 21 (1): 74–81. doi:10.1097/00007691-199902000-00011. PMID 10051057.
  22. ^ Olivieri NF, Brittenham GM, McLaren CE, et al. (August 1998). "Long-term safety and effectiveness of iron-chelation therapy with deferiprone for thalassemia major". The New England Journal of Medicine. 339 (7): 417–23. doi:10.1056/NEJM199808133390701. PMID 9700174.
  23. ^ Report by the CPSO Discipline Committee, p.3
  24. ^ Bonetta, Laura (2000). "Hate-mail author trapped by DNA". Nature Medicine. 6 (4): 364. doi:10.1038/74596. PMID 10742127.
  25. ^ Birmingham, Karen (2000). "No dismissal for hate-mail author". Nature Medicine. 6 (6): 609–10. doi:10.1038/76146. PMID 10835652.
  26. ^ Wanless IR, Sweeney G, Dhillon AP, et al. (September 2002). "Lack of progressive hepatic fibrosis during long-term therapy with deferiprone in subjects with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia". Blood. 100 (5): 1566–9. doi:10.1182/blood-2002-01-0306. PMID 12176871.
  27. ^ Rund D, Rachmilewitz E (September 2005). "Beta-thalassemia". The New England Journal of Medicine. 353 (11): 1135–46. doi:10.1056/NEJMra050436. PMID 16162884.
  28. ^ Constantinou G, Melides S, Modell B (February 2003). "The Olivieri case". The New England Journal of Medicine. 348 (9): 860–3, author reply 860–3. doi:10.1056/NEJM200302273480919. PMID 12606746.
  29. ^ Victorhoffbrand, A (2005). "Deferiprone therapy for transfusional iron overload". Best Practice & Research Clinical Haematology. 18 (2): 299–317. doi:10.1016/j.beha.2004.08.026. PMID 15737892.
  30. ^ " - Canada's national current affairs and news magazine since 1905". Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  31. ^ Tanner MA, Galanello R, Dessi C, et al. (April 2007). "A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of the effect of combined therapy with deferoxamine and deferiprone on myocardial iron in thalassemia major using cardiovascular magnetic resonance". Circulation. 115 (14): 1876–84. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.648790. PMID 17372174.
  32. ^ Miriam Shuchman (2005). The drug trial: Nancy Olivieri and the scandal that rocked the Hospital for Sick Children. Toronto: Random House Canada. ISBN 978-0-679-31084-6.[page needed]
  33. ^ "UB Professor Authors Page-Turner on Toronto Medical Scandal". 13 June 2005. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  34. ^ Kollata, Gina (June 14, 2005). "In Drama Pitting Scientist vs. Drug Maker, All Are Punished". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  35. ^ Gideon Koren (2012). "Essay for the 2011 CIHR/CMAJ award: Motherisk — caring for mothers, protecting the unborn". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 184 (2): E155–E157. doi:10.1503/cmaj.112128. PMC 3273537. PMID 22271922. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  36. ^ "The Hospital for Sick Children - Motherisk". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  37. ^ "The Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology - Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  38. ^ "Gideon Koren, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), F.A.C.M.T." Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  39. ^ "About us". Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  40. ^ "Motherisk". Retrieved February 25, 2009.[dead link]
  41. ^ "Study offers new hope for kids with fetal alcohol syndrome". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  42. ^ "Therapeutic Drug Monitoring". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  43. ^ "Fetal Alcohol Research". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  44. ^ "Canadian Foundation on Fetal Alcohol Research (CFFAR)". Archived from the original on 19 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  45. ^ Gideon Koren. "History of Tails at SickKids Telling Tails: Children's Literature Goes to the Hospital". Archived from the original on 20 November 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.

External links[edit]