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Clinical trials researcher receives top cancer society award


Toronto, ON – Dr Joseph Pater, director of the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) clinical trials group, has been awarded the RM Taylor medal and award.

Sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society and its research partner, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the RM Taylor medal and award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cancer field.

“There is perhaps no other individual Canadian whose efforts have had a greater impact on improving the outlook for cancer patients in this country and around the world than Dr Pater,” says Dr Barbara Whylie, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society and the NCIC.

As director of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group at Queen’s University for more than 25 years, Dr Pater has presided over more than 300 cancer clinical trials that have enrolled more than 45,000 patients around the world. During this time, cancer survival rates have improved significantly. In the 1960s, only one in three Canadian cancer patients survived the disease. Today, 59% of patients survive at least five years after their diagnosis. Their quality of life has also improved.

“This is in large measure due to the advances made through clinical trials,” says Dr Whylie. “The clinical trials network that Dr Pater has established in Canada now serves as a model for other countries and other researcher bodies around the world.”

In 2003, Canada was recognized in the European Journal of Cancer for making a larger impact with its clinical cancer research than any other country. “As CTG director, Dr Pater deserves a large part of the credit for this international accolade,” says Dr Whylie.

Dr Pater is also a professor of medicine, oncology and community health and epidemiology at Queen’s University and a physician at Kingston General Hospital.

The R. M. Taylor Medal and Award is named after Dr Taylor who was executive vice-president of the Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute of Canada from 1955 to 1977.

Two other Ontario researchers have also received important awards given by the Canadian Cancer Society and the NCIC this year.

Dr Frances Shepherd, a researcher and physician at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, is the 2006 recipient of the O Harold Warwick Prize for her work in improving treatments for lung cancer. As long-time chair of the lung cancer site committee of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, Dr Shepherd has played a leadership role in numerous significant clinical trials. She has been an investigator in more than 80 clinical trials since 1982 and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, including three in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2005.

The prize is given annually to researchers whose work has had a major impact on the control of cancer. It honours the work of Dr Warwick, a pioneering researcher in cancer control and treatment who became the first executive director of both the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Dr Peter J Roy, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who holds a Canada Research Chair in molecular neurobiology, has been awarded the 2006 Harold E Johns Award. The award recognizes his work aimed at understanding the migration of cancer cells – work that may lead to the discovery of new drug targets that can be used to prevent the spread of cancer. The Harold E Johns Award is given annually to a top-ranking young researcher funded by the National Cancer Institute of Canada.