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Most common gynecologic cancer gets boost

It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to the BC Cancer Foundation blog again! Since I last blogged almost a year ago, we have gained further insight on the behavior of different endometrial cancers, and I had the pleasure of joining another Ride to Conquer Cancer last summer, in somewhat epic conditions. Tales of adventure on the latter are for another day. But I would like to share some of our research team’s progress in endometrial cancer. First, thanks to an incredibly generous donation by a family who was impacted by endometrial cancer we have been able to complete biologic analysis...

Introducing March Guest Bloggers: Drs. Jessica McAlpine and Aly Karsan

Thank you to our February guest blogger, Dr. Malcolm Moore, who shared some very interesting thoughts on philanthropy and research, and what he sees for the future of cancer care. This month, we’re excited to welcome Drs. Jessica McAlpine and Aly Karsan, both of whom recently received BC Cancer Foundation Clinical Investigator Awards . The Clinical Investigator Awards were established in 2013, the result of a $1.5 million gift to the Foundation from Thomas Tait. Shortlisted candidates are selected from a group of high caliber applicants by a panel representing leading cancer research...

Cancer research continues to reveal exciting advances

Cancer is a complex disease, and so cancer research is by necessity multifaceted and involves lots of collaboration. We are fortunate in B.C. to have strong research programs. We do need to pay attention to research and programs in health promotion, cancer prevention, and early detection through screening as these can have profound effects on our overall goal of reducing the burden and death from cancer. Expanding treatment options In the area of biomedical and clinical research, two approaches—cancer genomics and immunotherapy—have seen extraordinary progress and excitement in the past few...

Philanthropy and Research: Together, we are seeing positive results

The BC Cancer Agency has a mandate to provide and coordinate cancer care in B.C., ensuring patients receive high quality care that is accessible and available to all. We also have a strong research mission as part of our mandate, and aspire to be seen nationally and internationally as a leader in cancer care and research. Practically, this means ensuring that the patients today receive the best care possible, and that we work towards improving care and treatment in the future. This drives our research mission and motivates everyone who works at the Agency. To ensure that we can meet our own...

Inspired by the passion

The first few months since joining the BC Cancer Agency have flown by. I am enjoying my new role—every day is different and presents new challenges. I have travelled to all six of our centres and meeting so many of our staff, who are passionate about making the system better, has been the most inspiring part of my job. I also spend a fair amount of time working with the BC Cancer Foundation to support their critical role in raising funds for the BC Cancer Agency. I’ve been asked a few times what my biggest learnings have been in the new role. It’s an interesting question. The first would be...

Sometimes the best things aren’t planned

It might come as a surprise, but I never really considered a career in medicine until my third year of university. I wanted to be an accountant, but it all changed when I developed mono and had to visit a number of doctors. It was during one of the visits that I realized that a career helping people who were unwell would be challenging and rewarding, so I switched from accounting and applied to medical school. Even then, I never imagined cancer to be my focus. At medical school, there was very little exposure to Oncology in the curriculum. My main interests at the time were Cardiology and...

Introducing February Guest Blogger: Dr. Malcolm Moore

Thank you to our January guest blogger, Dr. Steven Jones, who shared so personally how his curiosity of genetics while growing up on a sheep farm in Wales fueled his passion, leading to a career in bioinformatics. This month, we’re excited to welcome Dr. Malcolm Moore, President of the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Moore joined the Agency last fall, and he’ll share how a chance appointment with a doctor led him to trade in his accounting books for a stethoscope and pursue a career in medicine. Passionate about quality cancer care he will also share his insight and vision for the future of cancer care...

Looking Ahead

We are living in an exciting time—where cancer is being forced to reveal its genetic tricks and give up the molecular underpinnings it has been secretly using to grow within our bodies and evade our drugs. Couple these insights from sixty years of basic science charting and painstakingly determining the roles that genes and proteins normally play in our cells, and we have an unprecedented view of how cancer cells are working against us. We also now have the DNA sequencing tools in place to determine the combination of molecular changes that drive the growth of a particular patient’s tumour at...

A Petabase: no ordinary number

As Head of Bioinformatics at the Genome Sciences Centre, my role is to oversee the computational analysis of the DNA sequence data that we are generating. While sequencing technologies can now rapidly produce copious amounts of raw DNA sequence, computational challenges remain. Currently, we have over nine petabytes of disk space – that’s nine million gigabytes, or the equivalent space on more than 70,300 of the best iPads. And there are over 8,000 CPUs churning away 24/7 analyzing these sequences. Detective Work The human genome contains around three billion base pairs of DNA sequence...

Coming to British Columbia

During the tail end of my PhD in Cambridge, I was contacted by Dr Michael Smith from the University of British Columbia. He explained he was interested in visiting the Sanger Institute , in the UK. Obviously, I was fully aware of the famous Dr Smith—British Columbia's home grown Nobel Prize winner. Although, to this day, I am not one hundred percent clear why he contacted me, I was nonetheless delighted to show him around the Sanger Institute. At that time the Institute was bursting at the seams with DNA sequencing activity for the human genome project. It must have been even more fascinating...

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