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First in Canada cancer biobank registers 10,000 participants

March 17, 2014

Found in News

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The PREDICT (Personal Response Determinants in Cancer Therapy) program at the BC Cancer Agency has registered 10,000 participants.

This number is significant because it is half way to the program’s goal of 20,000 participants – a number which will enable large scale cancer and genomic research.

The program launched as a pilot project in 2006, thanks to the generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors who established the Frank J Garnett Family Fund. New patients are informed of the program at their first appointment. Those who take part give a blood sample before they start treatment and agree to be contacted to participate in future research projects. Biobanks of blood and tissue samples donated by generous patients enable cancer researchers to study the cancer tissues and also the factors in the patient such as the immune system that influence treatments and outcomes.

PREDICT is more than a typical biobank because of its centre-wide scope which expands the variety of samples collected and because by obtaining permission from patients to be contacted, it allows patients to become partners in future research projects.

PREDICT provides a unique platform to support research and was the only program of its kind in Canada when it launched; now due to its success the model has since been replicated elsewhere in BC. The biobank of blood samples is internationally recognized and used by researchers around the world to help them deepen their understanding of how cancer grows and responds to treatment.

Currently the program is offered at the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre in Victoria and the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior in Kelowna, with plans to expand the program to all six BC Cancer Agency centres in the future.

Since the start of the PREDICT program 10 times more patients with cancer in BC have participated in research studies. Because of this, program researchers have also been able to study potential biomarkers of pancreatic and other less common types of cancer, contributing to the improvement of disease diagnosis and treatment. PREDICT has also helped to educate the next generation of health care providers with 75 per cent of the program’s research interns going on to pursue careers in medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, public health and education.


Dr. Peter Watson, Principle Investigator, PREDICT 
Our patients are incredibly generous in the way they participate in this program and contribute to cancer research. Before PREDICT, contacting the right patient and obtaining the right blood sample was a challenge for cancer researchers and was a bottleneck slowing research progress. PREDICT changes all this; it has for example enabled ground breaking research on immune responses to ovarian cancer to proceed at an exciting pace.

Dr. Max Coppes, President, BC Cancer Agency
“I want to thank the 10,000 people that have contributed to the PREDICT biobank. I think it is truly amazing that each and everyone of these people chose to think about how they could help further cancer research at a time when they were just about to start their own cancer journey. Without their support we would not have this blood biobank that allows our researchers to learn more about cancer, ultimately to find better treatments.”

Doug Nelson, President and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation
“Our donors are changing how the world thinks about cancer by enabling groundbreaking, unique research initiatives like PREDICT to transpire in our province. Through the collaboration between our donors, patients and researchers, our knowledge of cancer, its causes and progression, is expanding rapidly.”

Quick Facts

  • In 2006, PREDICT (Personal Response Determinants in Cancer Therapy) planning is started
  • In 2007 PREDICT is launched as a pilot program at the Vancouver Island Centre in Victoria
  • In 2008, the PREDICT program is expanded to a full program at the Vancouver Island Centre
  • In 2013, the PREDICT program is started at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior in Kelowna
  • The program is primarily funded by the BC Cancer Foundation; Frank and Elizabeth Garnett of Sidney, BC, gave $200,000 to help start the program

What the PREDICT program is working to find out

  • Why some people develop cancer and others do not
  • Why some people suffer side effects and others do not
  • Why some cancers are cured while similar cancers are not
  • And, why if two people have exactly the same treatment for exactly the same cancer, why does one person respond well and the other less well


The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.bc.ca .

The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge that connects philanthropic support and research breakthroughs in cancer knowledge. As the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency and the largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province, we enable donors to make contributions to leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia. We fund with the goal of finding solutions. Visit www.bccancerfoundation.com to make a donation or to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.


For more information or to arrange an interview:

Media Contacts:
Jenn Currie
Communications Officer
BC Cancer Agency

Monica Bisal
Communications Specialist
BC Cancer Foundation