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Emerging knowledge transforming cancer treatment in BC

January 12, 2018

Thanks to the BC Cancer Foundation for inviting me to be their guest blogger this month. As I near retirement this is a good time for me to reflect on the 37 years I have spent at BC Cancer and all the progress we have made in understanding and managing lymphoid cancers in that time.

I grew up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and received all of my education in the United States, including medical school at Yale University. After that I did my house-staff training in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, and then spent two years as a general internist in Anchorage, Alaska, where I worked at the Alaska Native Medical Center.

I finished my medical oncology training at Stanford University and then came to Vancouver in 1981, where I have worked at BC Cancer ever since. I have had a wonderful career here. I am deeply grateful to my patients, clinical and research colleagues across the province and the world and BC Cancer staff for all the opportunities that have been made available to me.

I have always been fascinated by biology (starting with a turtle farm I kept as a teenager, which included about 50 native turtles that I rescued from the roads of Cape Cod), especially during the exciting times of the 1950s and 1960s when the DNA double helix was discovered, molecular biology emerged as the dominant science underlying medicine and the genetic roots of evolution, cancer, aging and illness were first uncovered.

By the time I finished my medical training I had become convinced that the ever deepening understanding of molecular and cellular biology that was emerging would both transform medicine, and especially cancer treatment, and provide the crucial insight we needed to design molecularly targeted therapies.

From my first days at BC Cancer in 1981 until now, my career has been a wonderfully fulfilling adventure. Cancer care and research are not for the easily discouraged or those who need every project to be a success. However, being able to make a major difference for each new patient and being provided the opportunity to work with dedicated scientists, committed clinical colleagues and devoted staff have been extraordinary privileges.

In these blogs I hope I can share with readers the excitement of being part of the worldwide effort to more deeply understand the complex nature of cancers and to craft the new interventions that will effectively address these otherwise devastating diseases.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connors