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 the GSC to ask tough research questions.
While cancer genomics is important, our ultimate goal is to apply genomic findings to the biochemistry of the tumour. We can sequence genomics all we want, but we won’t be able to offer meaningful options to patients until we determine the clinical relevance. Our end goal is always to enhance patient care and treatment.
For me, the research process has three significant steps: 1) Sequencing the genomics of the tumour; 2) Investigating the biochemistry of the tumour; 3) Translating this information into potential therapies that can be tested in the clinic.
The ability to research all of these areas in one place, the BC Cancer Agency, truly distinguishes us from other centres around the world, and allows us to deliver better results. Also, with genomics as our starting point, we are able to begin with the disease tissue – the most relevant material, and this means discovery analysis occurs right from the start.