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Live-Saving Innovation Meets Data Security

November 16, 2022

Found in Innovation,  News

TD Bank Group (TD) is donating $150,000 to the BC Cancer Cascadia Project, a program that is bringing the very latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) diagnostics to the frontlines of cancer detection and care.

Ovarian Cancer Research Team at work

What started on the back of a napkin in the Vancouver General Hospital cafeteria in Dec. 2000, has since become a world-renowned, multi-disciplinary team on the leading edge of ovarian cancer research.

OVCARE (Ovarian Cancer Research Program) is a team like few others, including computer scientists, pathologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, gynaecologic surgeons and more, spanning multiple institutions. And the team’s goals are simple: increase prevention and develop new, individualized therapies for improved outcomes.

As part of that mandate, the team is now leading the Cascadia Project, an international study to use cancer pathology images from collaborating Cascadia region cancer centres (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver) to train an algorithm that will improve how we diagnose, classify and ultimately treat ovarian cancer.

Making cancer care equitable

The need for equal access to life-saving innovation has never been greater, which is why TD Bank Group saw an opportunity in the OVCARE team—and this study in particular—to make a meaningful contribution.

“We’re so proud to provide the BC Cancer Foundation with a $150,000 donation toward their incredible Cascadia Project,” said Julie Armour, Senior Vice President – Pacific Region, TD Bank Group.

“This initiative is well aligned with our goal through the TD Ready Commitment – our corporate citizenship platform – to create more equitable health outcomes for all, harnessing the power of technology to break down barriers to care and improve outcomes for thousands of women across BC who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.”

Solving the data problem

Traditionally, data needs to be centralized at one location for it to be useful in AI modeling. Regulations and privacy risks limit access and slow down the transfer of patient data, creating a significant barrier to research across health institutions; and even across borders.

What makes the Cascadia Project so special is that it seeks to solve this problem by establishing a network for Al ­based, privacy-protected pathology quality assurance.

Ovarian cancer will be the team’s proof of concept for a system that could eventually be used by doctors everywhere, addressing a wide spectrum of cancers.

The benefits to all British Columbians cannot be over stated. It will help ensure all people facing cancer — regardless of geography, race, education, gender identity or socioeconomic status — receive accurate diagnoses as well as the most appropriate treatments for their unique cancer subtypes.

The OVCARE team is poised to revolutionize diagnostic cancer care by bringing AI models directly into the clinic. The introduction of AI and machine learning algorithms into the clinic promises to bring a new paradigm shift to medicine.

Thanks to TD’s vision and generous support, novel approaches to how we diagnose and treat cancer are closer than ever before. And all of us, regardless of where we call home, will benefit.

Learn more about the OVCARE team here.

The OVCARE team at BC Cancer - Vancouver