Chemistry alum receives lifetime achievement award

By admin Sep 11, 2014

Jeff Neukom

IWU alumni have made a history of success. Year after year, graduates have gone on to utilize their experience at Illinois Wesleyan University to set new standards in their fields. Charles Hawker, a graduate from the class of 1962 is but one example of this trend. His latest award is a testament to his career.

Currently, Hawker serves as scientific director of automaton and special projects for ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City, Utah, but he has a wealth of experience across his field. According to its website, ARUP is a “national clinical and anatomic pathology reference laboratory and an enterprise of the University and its Department of Pathology.”

Following up on his 2013 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Management Sciences and Patient Safety, Hawker is the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. This award, as noted on the AACC website, is for “significant contributions in all aspects of clinical chemistry, particularly service, education and research” and to individuals who have “demonstrated long standing service to the AACC.”

Hawker’s lifetime of contributions began shortly after graduation. In 1971, he developed one of the first blood tests for parathyroid hormone, which was widely used in the diagnosis of parathyroid and calcium disorders. Radioimmunoassay is a technique used to measure concentrations of antigens, such as hormone levels in the blood. Having a measure of the level of the parathyroid hormone is crucial, as excessive amounts can lead to kidney stones, ulcers, and other maladies. Low levels can lead to painful cramping, muscle twitches, and severe spasms.

His later work also lead to publishing the first report of the existence of procalcitonin, which is a precursor form of calcitonin. Hawker’s research helped lead to the development of a blood test useful in management of patients with septic shock.

Hawker has co-authored chapters on clinical laboratory automation for the Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics and the Tietz Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry.  Currently, he holds three patents and has published 43 peer-reviewed papers and 47 abstracts. Coupled with frequent lectures to national and international audiences, it is clear that Hawker has made himself very busy in the scientific community.

He has also lent his abilities to sample management, and he helped ARUP to develop an automated system for rapidly thawing large volumes of frozen samples— mostly blood and urine that are used for diagnostic purposes— while seeking to maintain uniformity in those samples.

Earlier this year, Hawker was interviewed by SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) about ARUP’s involvement in this field of study, and he quipped that their newly developed process, “certainly beats the old way we used to thaw samples by setting a group of specimens out on a laboratory bench and getting an electric fan to blow on them.”

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