Dr. Poul Sorensen
Senior Scientist, Childhood Cancer Research Program and Pediatric Genome Sequencing Project, BC Cancer

Blog Posts by Dr. Poul Sorensen

Displaying 1 - 10 of 11 blog posts

How donors catalyze cancer research & care

I can’t overstate the importance of philanthropy in our efforts to research new and more effective treatments for cancer. It would be easy enough for granting agencies to deny funding based on a disease being rare. But it’s clear, based on our most recent findings, that this is the wrong approach. If you spearhead science for the sake of discovery, then you really can uncover things that have a broad application that you wouldn’t have been able to find had you followed purely where the money is. This is where Foundation donors play such a key part, as they are really instrumental in our quest...

STRESS SIGNALLING IN TUMOUR CELLS

Last week I told you about a breakthrough discovery that lead to the development of a new drug that targets 22 different types of cancers. This week I am eager to share about another exciting development our team has been focusing on: stress signalling in tumour cells. In particular, how tumour cells adapt to stress. The idea is that when tumour cells grow in a certain environment, that environment then has the capability to ‘stress’ the tumour cells – for example, there might not be enough oxygen, there might be an immune cell attack or DNA damaging agents that then activate the stress...

TWO DECADES OF DISCOVERY IMPACTS 22 TYPES OF CANCERS

Hello, My name is Dr. Poul Sorensen and I am a distinguished scientist at BC Cancer. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be blogging once again and share some exciting developments in childhood cancer research. One of our most significant breakthroughs involved a gene mutation in a rare pediatric cancer that was originally discovered in our lab back in 1998. Twenty years of progress later, that original discovery has now led to a new drug called Larotrectinib – just recently FDA approved in 2018– that targets at least 22 different types of cancers. To see two decades worth of research...

Philanthropy, the Ride, and Looking Ahead

I believe strongly in the work we do at the BC Cancer Agency, and the BC Cancer Foundation has been extremely supportive of pediatric cancer research through the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I feel well supported in my research here and through my own participation in the Ride, I also feel close to the donor population. Dollars received from the Ride allow us to explore new areas of research. It is often challenging to obtain funding from external granting bodies for these types of high-risk but potentially high-reward projects, but I believe they ultimately lead to higher discovery rewards. For...

Pediatric Personalized Medicine Project and facing important questions

A short while ago, Dr. Aly Karsan blogged about the personalized medicine project. I am also involved in this project, but with a focus in pediatrics. The goal of the project is to probe the genomes, or DNA, of some of the most challenging childhood cancers known, to look at very high risk patients, sequence genomes of the patients to identify so-called actionable alterations, and determine if these alterations in the tumours are there are targetable. Ultimately, we hope this project will reveal better methods of individualizing treatment for pediatric patients. Funds raised from the BC...

Pediatric Cancer Research and Metastatic Diseases

Pediatric cancer research is gaining recognition as an area of excellence at the BC Cancer Agency. I touched on some of the reasons for this in my previous post, but I also wanted to emphasize that our success is due in no small part to the great community we have here at the BC Cancer Agency. One area we are really focused on in the Childhood Cancer Research Program is metastasis, or the movement of cancer from one location in the body to another. The outcomes for many childhood cancers haven’t changed much in the past 20 years, because many of them are metastatic diseases, the single...

Genomics is just the beginning

When I first started working in cancer genetics, we used old technologies to indentify genetic alterations in tumours. It was challenging work and we were often left in what felt like a no-man’s land. But the discoveries and disease-specific genetic alterations found then are now recognized world-wide as the drivers of those diseases. These days, the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) enables us to be much more efficient in modern cancer research. Having experienced the early days of discovery research, I know how important this work is and I appreciate the capability we have at...

My role and the BC Cancer Agency – it’s the place to be

Following my PhD, I completed my pathology training, and in doing so I became interested in cancer genetics. Prior to this, during medical fellowships in Minnesota and at USC in L.A., I had been exposed to pediatric pathology and childhood cancer research, and was immediately motivated by this area of work. After pinpointing these two areas of interest, I joined Children’s and Women’s Hospital in the Pathology department in the mid-1990’s. I tried combining research and clinical practice, but this was difficult to manage time-wise. I was then thrilled to be awarded the Asa and Kashmir Johal...

The power of people & the Ride to Conquer Cancer

The ride last weekend was amazing, once again. I think I’ve nearly recovered from the hills and the rain now. Here is a group photo of us at the last pit stop. These guys are truly inspiring. I mentioned earlier that I first rode with Team Finn in 2011. Although the weather was not on our side once again this year, the clouds parted in time for the last 20 km or so. It was breathtaking to ride the final few kilometers of the two-day ride with supporters clapping and cheering from the sidelines, as we rode in wearing our cool pink jerseys. It is always inspiring to see people come together to...

Dr. Poul Sorensen: My Background

I’m originally from Denmark, but have lived in Canada since I was about nine years old. My family first moved to Victoria, then to Richmond, B.C. I’ve always had an interest in how things work and this eventually led me to the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I studied biophysics and biochemistry. During this time, I discovered my passion for medical research and decided to go to medical school. I studied medicine at UBC and McGill University. While at UBC, Dr. David Hardwick, former head of Pathology at the BC Cancer Agency, became a big influence on my studies. As a pathologist,...

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