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New molecular pathology facility opens in Montreal


Montreal, QC – A new Molecular Pathology Centre at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) celebrated its official opening today. The 12,000-sq-ft facility was entirely funded through private donations—notably, the Dubrovsky family, Banque Nationale and the Adelis Foundation—to enable the JGH to develop the targeted therapies that are most likely to be effective in treating each individual patient.

“This centre will place the JGH at the cutting edge of this exciting new era of personalized medicine, and it will help us offer our patients the best possible treatments by customizing healthcare to the specific molecular characteristics of the disease,” says Dr. Alan Spatz, director of the Molecular Pathology Centre and JGH Chief of Pathology.

Dr. Spatz notes that molecular pathology – a cornerstone of any major development in modern medicine – is devising targeted treatments based on a tumour’s specific molecular characteristics, as opposed to its location of the disease within the body. For this reason, Dr. Spatz says, “it’s becoming extremely important to identify precisely the particular genetic signature that determines what will happen to a cancer, anywhere in the body.”

“This centre will considerably reinforce our capacity to discover and validate new actionable targets and to design new effective treatments,” says Dr. Leon van Kempen, chief operating officer of the JGH Molecular Pathology Centre. “The identification of multiple gene abnormalities that, in the past, was done one gene at a time, will all be done in one step with higher speed and accuracy than ever before.”

In addition to benefiting from the expertise of internationally renowned clinicians and researchers, the Molecular Pathology Centre will capitalize on its high level of integration with the JGH’s Segal Cancer Centre. This multi-disciplinary approach to cancer care will allow researchers, pathologists, and clinicians to work closely to evaluate specific types of cancer and help guide treatment decisions customized to a patient’s particular genetic type.

“This centre will help usher in a new age of cancer treatment where the key to the cancer-fighting strategy is genetics,” says Dr. Gerald Batist, Director of the Segal Cancer Centre and JGH Chief of Oncology. “It will enable us to save and extend many lives by matching the best therapy to each patient, while providing us with the chance to significantly contribute to the current revolution in the treatment of cancer here in Quebec and globally.”

Looking to the future, Dr. Spatz sees the potential of the centre going beyond just the treatment of cancer. “While its impact will initially be felt most strongly in cancer treatment and research, the JGH’s sophistication in personalized medicine continues to grow, and the centre will apply its expertise to other fields, such as cardiovascular disease and the neurology of aging.”

The JGH says it was one of the first hospitals in Canada to use molecular analysis to help guide diagnosis and treatment. It has also been playing a prominent role as one of the academic organizers of the WIN Consortium—Worldwide Innovative Networking in Personalized Cancer Medicine—along with global experts from leading institutions in such cities as Houston, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Munich and Mumbai.