Senior Scientist, Deeley Research Centre; Director, Tumour Tissue Repository, BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre

The BC Cancer Agency’s Tumour Tissue Repository (TTR) is another example of a biobank that owes much of its success to generous donations to the BC Cancer Foundation. The TTR provides support for PREDICT to operate and collect blood samples and focuses on collecting cancer tissue specimens after surgical and medical procedures. The TTR has created a standardized collection of over 4,500 tissue specimens, which has supported leading research groups in the BC Cancer Agency to make groundbreaking discoveries that have been recognized as amongst the most exciting in this field in the world.

But the TTR is also not a typical biobank - it supports other biobanks that require advice for specialized components such as training or databases. In addition to this, the TTR is a founding member of the Canadian Tumour Repository Network (called CTRNet). CTRNet was funded by the national Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), not to perform biobanking but to enhance the way biobanking works, nationally and internationally.

Through the CTRNet network, the TTR has worked with other tumour biobanks across Canada to create uniform standards and to make it possible for more patients to enroll in, and researchers to gain access to, our biobanks. An important strategy to achieve this was the development and implementation last year of the first national certification program for biobanks. This program is also offered to international biobanks. The TTR led this for the CTRNet and coordinated the creation of the first education program on biobanking for researchers, through a partnership with the Office of Biobank Education and Research in the Department of Pathology at the University of British Columbia.

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This month I have described myself, my travels, and three of my roles at the BC Cancer Agency. What I didn’t tell you is why I came here. I joined the BC Cancer Agency because it is an organization that lives and breathes its logo – Care and Research. Many organizations provide excellent care, and many do great research, but few combine the two and maintain them as equal goals because it’s difficult to do. But this is what the BC Cancer Agency achieves, largely through a distinct culture and attitude. This is what I think is so important; to learn from the care we offer today to be better tomorrow.

The BC Cancer Foundation is integral to this culture and our progress. Our colleagues in the Foundation help us to communicate and explain what we do in our research, especially when we get too excited or too enthusiastic for it to be intelligible to our generous donors, the B.C. public.

Lastly, I want to say thank you again to you, our donors and patients who so generously contribute to our research.

Thanks for reading,
Peter