Yuet Wai Kan

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Yuet Wai Kan
Born (1936-06-11) 11 June 1936 (age 83)
Hong Kong
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Hong Kong
Known forhuman blood diseases
prenatal diagnosis
DNA diagnosis
DNA polymorphism
AwardsAllan Award (1984)
Gairner Int'l Award (1984)
Lasker Award (1991)
Shaw Prize (2004)
Scientific career
FieldsHuman genetics
InstitutionsUniversity of Hong Kong
Queen Mary Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital
University of Pittsburgh
McGill University
Children's Hospital Boston
Harvard Medical School
San Francisco General Hospital

Yuet Wai Kan FRS (Chinese: 簡悅威; born 11 June 1936), is a Canadian-American geneticist and hematologist.[1] He is the current Louis K. Diamond Professor of Hematology and the head of the Division of Molecular Medicine and Diagnostics at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the former President of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).


Kan was born in Hong Kong in 1936. His brother, Sir Yuet Keung Kan, was the Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council and Executive Council of Hong Kong.

Kan graduated with an M.B.B.S. (in 1958) and M.D. (in 1980) both from the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Medicine. He undertook his medical training at Queen Mary Hospital, then went to United States for further study.[2]

Since 1976, Kan has been a research investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Kan served as the president of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in 1990.

Kan is currently a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Kan also sits on both the Board of Adjudicators and the Selection Committee for Life Science and Medicine which chooses winners of the Shaw Prize.


Kan is regarded as a pioneer of applying molecular biology and genetics into clinical medicine. Kan was the first to establish that a single DNA mutation could lead to a human disease, and the first to diagnose a human disease by using DNA.[3]

Kan has made many fundamental contributions to our understanding of human blood diseases. Kan was the first to discover the gene deletion in human alpha-thalassemia; he was the first to discover a point-mutation causing human beta-thalassemia; with Golbus' help, he was the first to carry out prenatal diagnosis (for a haemoglobinopathy).[4]

Kan is best known for his groundbreaking works in sickle cell and thalassemia. He is the first person who used fetal DNA diagnosis techniques to study these diseases. Kan's work led to the innovation of DNA diagnosis.[5]

Kan discovered DNA polymorphism, which nowadays is widely used in genetic analysis for human diseases.[6]

Honors and awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Supplement to Who's who in America. 44. Marquis Who's Who. 1987. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  2. ^ "The University of Hong Kong – International Advisory Board: KAN Yuet-Wei". cchi.com.hk. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  3. ^ UCSF News Office: UCSF genetics pioneer Y.W. Kan earns Lifetime Achievement Award
  4. ^ Kazazian HH (1986). "The William Allan Memorial Award presented to Yuet Wai Kan". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 38: 1–3. PMC 1684715. PMID 3511682.
  5. ^ "United States National Academies – Yuet Wai Kan, CHR Member". Archived from the original on 9 November 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2008.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  6. ^ "American Society of Hematology: Legend -> Yuet Wai Kan". Archived from the original on 22 September 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2008.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  7. ^ Hong Kong was transferred to P.R.China on 1 July 1997, and officially became Hong Kong SAR