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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...

The Wondering Years

I grew up on a sheep farm in Wales, near a small town called Lampeter. My favorite subject at school was biology and I was lucky to have very engaged and passionate teachers in that subject that fueled my interest further. Similarly on the farm, I was always fascinated and intrigued by the selective breeding that had gone on to create the diversity of agricultural breeds, not only differing in their physical appearance but also in their temperaments and behaviour. Image: www.upsplash.com On being inspired This led me to do an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Bristol,...

Introducing January Guest Blogger: Dr. Steven Jones

Thank you to our December guest blogger, Dr. Howard Lim, who shared how his passion for science as a child led to a career treating people with cancer and doing research on this challenging and complex disease. This month, we’re excited to welcome Dr. Steven Jones, the Head of Bioinformatics and Associate Director at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. Dr. Jones is a detective, though not of the crime fighting type you might think. Instead of a tweed hat and Sherlock Holmes-like magnifying glass, Dr. Jones and his team have high tech machines and use robotics to sequence cancer. This...

Reflections on Today and Tomorrow

As part of the GI Cancer outcomes unit, the research we do ensures that new therapies are achieving the benefits in a cost effective manner. We can also use this data to link to our various pathology tumor banks to explore new areas of understanding of the causes of certain cancers in the hopes of developing new therapies and methods of detection. Our clinical trials units have continued to provide state of the art treatment for oncology patients that are not yet approved. The use of sequencing technology has helped us understand tumor biology better and hopefully in the future will provide...

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