$1.5 M awarded to seven researchers to advance cancer detection and care

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today on World Cancer Day, the BC Cancer Foundation and BC Cancer Agency announce the recipients of $1.5 M in funding to advance cancer detection and care through a brand new program titled the Strategic Priority Fund Awards. The funding will provide seven BC Cancer Agency research recipients with innovative cancer projects the opportunity to advance groundbreaking research that will help detect and treat cancers more effectively.

“The research that our recipients will explore has great potential to impact patients not only locally, in B.C., but around the world,” says Dr. François Bénard, Vice-President of Research, BC Cancer Agency. “We are very appreciative of the BC Cancer Foundation and its donors for collaboratively creating and supporting these awards.”

Each of the research projects that will be funded are unique, exploring a variety of cancer types such as cervical, lung, breast, as well as developing new detection tools and methods.

Two projects in the areas of cervical and lung cancer are examples of the caliber and technological innovation that the projects selected will exude.  

Led by Dr. Dirk van Niekerk, his project focuses on the need to improve cervical cancer screening rates, specifically in the Fraser Valley health region where screening rates are the lowest in the province. His project will expand an online sexually transmitted infection testing platform to include self-collected cervical cancer screening.  Participants who test positive for high risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) will be contacted and referred for further testing and care. This approach can improve access and acceptability of screening and prevent cervical cancer among high-risk women.  

In the area of lung cancer, Dr. Pierre Lane and his team will develop tools to safely and accurately sample suspicious lung nodules in the small airways of the lungs. These tools will be guided by novel submillimeter 3-D optical imaging probes developed by the group. Using living pig lungs, the team will verify the tools’ safety and effectiveness. The project aims to improve lung health for Canadians by improving the safety, accuracy and speed of lung cancer diagnoses to reduce patient anxiety, reduce follow-up procedures and provide faster referrals for treatment.

The full list of Strategic Priority Fund Award recipients for 2017 includes: 

Dr. Connie Eaves: Identification of mechanisms of human breast cancer initiation from epigenomic changes caused by aging and introduced oncogenes 

Dr. David Huntsman: Proteomic based approach to address diagnostic challenges in cancer

Dr. Pierre Lane: Novel image-guided biopsy devices for peripheral lung nodules

Dr. Peter Lansdorp: Identifying structural variation and haplotypes in single cancer cells

Dr. Dirk van Niekerk: Using an online intervention for self-collection based HPV testing to improve cervical cancer screening rates in the Fraser Region of B.C.

Dr. Dean Regier: Resource and health impact of Personalized Onco-Genomics

Dr. Haishan Zeng: Improving periphery lung cancer detection by endoscopic laser raman spectroscopy

A new program this year, the BC Cancer Foundation Strategic Priority Fund awards will play a significant role in advancing diagnosis and outcomes for cancer patients.

“We are confident that our donors’ generosity will lead to discoveries that will have a direct benefit to cancer patients and their families in British Columbia,” says Sarah Roth, President &CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.

To learn more about the awards and this year’s recipients, please visit:  http://bccancerfoundation.com/research-spotlights

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:


Hayley Judge

Communications Specialist
BC Cancer Foundation
t. 604.707.5907 c.6047-764-0666
e. hayley.judge@bccancer.bc.ca  

The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge that connects philanthropic support and research breakthroughs in cancer knowledge.  As the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency and the largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province, we enable donors to make contributions to leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia. We fund with the goal of finding solutions. Visit www.bccancerfoundation.com to make a donation or to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.ca.