Lab Canada

Seventy new projects funded by Canadian Cancer Society

Toronto, ON April 29, 2003 The Canadian Cancer Society announced funding for 70 new research projects across Canada today, with a total of nearly C$31 million in grants to support the projects, to be paid out over a period of up to five years.

This funding announcement brings the society’s financial support for ongoing and new research projects this year to $48.8 million, the largest in its history, up from $47 million spent last year.

A few of the 70 new projects receiving grants today include:

Dr Howard Lipshitz, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, has received $808,152 over five years to study a protein called HNT and its human equivalent, RREB-1, to understand the role they play in cancer development.

Dr Liliana Attisano, at the University of Toronto, has received $759,399 to study a protein called TGF-beta that plays an important role in stopping cells from multiplying out of control. Her team is identifying the genes that are controlled by this protein. They will then determine how these genes are involved in the development of cancer.

Dr Nelly Auersperg, University of British Columbia is receiving $684,000 over five years to study the early genetic changes that lead to ovarian cancer and to define the characteristics of the disease that might indicate which women are at high risk of developing it.

Dr Steven Narod, at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, has received $592,823 over three years to conduct a study of ovarian cancer patients to identify those who carry an altered gene called BRCA2. His team will use the information to determine how many of the cancers were due to BRCA2 alterations, what risks are associated with different alterations of the gene, and what risks exist for cancers of all types in men and women who carry the altered gene.

Dr John Spinelli, an epidemiologist/biostatistician at the BC Cancer Agency, has been awarded a three-year $563,000 grant to try to pinpoint possible causes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While incidence rates for the majority of cancer sites have stabilized or declined since 1988, new cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) have more than doubled in the last 30 years.

Dr Brian Wilson, at the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, has received $516,230 over five years to continue his study of photodynamic therapy, a treatment with the potential for use with many kinds of cancer. With this treatment, the patient is injected with a light-sensitive drug. Once absorbed by the cancer cells in the patient’s body, the drug is activated by a burst of light, usually applied by laser, and destroys the cells. Dr Wilson’s team is looking at how both cancer and healthy cells react to this process and better ways to measure the dosage.

Dr Ming-Sound Tsao, at Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, has received $391,410 to study the effect of genetic changes on the aggressiveness of colorectal cancer.

Dr Claire Infante-Rivard, at McGill University, Hpital Sainte-Justine, Montreal is receiving $319,000 over three years. She will study acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and build on a database of information about healthy children and children with ALL to examine their exposure to environmental hazards such as smoke, alcohol and pesticides. She will also examine genetic information from their parents and grandparents to shed light on the genetic vs environmental factors that lead to ALL.

Dr Elizabeth McGregor, with the Alberta Cancer Board in Calgary, will receive $258,000 over two years to aid the implementation of widespread screening across Canada by assessing current knowledge, attitudes, and screening practices of the general public, identifying the barriers to adopting screening, and determining how to improve awareness and understanding of the disease.

Dr William Whelan, with Ryerson University in Toronto, is receiving $232,000 over three years to search for improvements to the delivery of one of the most cutting-edge treatment alternatives for recurrent prostate cancer – microwave thermal therapy. This therapy, which kills cancer cells with heat, has already shown promising results. Dr Whelan and his team will develop a new optical monitoring technique along with advanced control software that may allow physicians to deliver precise and more controlled thermal treatments.

Dr Roberta Ferrence, at the University of Toronto, will receive $150,000 over three years to study the factors that influence when and where people smoke outdoors. It is hoped this information can be used by city designers, planners and policymakers to develop outdoor spaces that will discourage smoking, minimize conflict between smokers and non-smokers and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

Details on all 70 new research projects can be found at

The Canadian Cancer Society funds research into all types and aspects of cancer including basic and laboratory research, behavioural research and clinical trials. Grants are funded for periods of up to five years and are selected after a rigorous national review process.