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Another Landmark Breast Cancer Announcement

I spoke at a news conference today for the second time in two weeks, to share another groundbreaking discovery in breast cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency. This new discovery will be a catalyst for bringing hope to breast cancer patients across the province and beyond. For the first time, the BC Cancer Agency’s breast cancer research team, led by Dr. Sam Aparicio, has identified new genes that could form the basis of next generation, targeted treatments for breast cancer. By reclassifying the disease into at least ten completely new subtypes, BC Cancer Agency researchers are placing new...

The CLC & the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre

By the early 2000s the BC Cancer Agency clinical care programs reflected all we had learned from careful collection of the clinical records of thousands of patients over more than two decades of clinical research. Pooling our extensive records and our rich collection of biopsy materials, we participated in the research efforts that were uncovering new insights into lymphoid cancer biology. The leaders in our program were invited to speak around the world at international conferences devoted to sharing scientific knowledge about lymphoid cancers. However, a final ingredient was missing...

The Centre for Lymphoid Cancer (CLC)

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, the BC Cancer Agency’s lymphoma research group grew steadily. Clinical staff in Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology and Pathology conducted research projects that helped define internationally recognized treatment policies for Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lymphocytic leukemia and myeloma. We participated in and led national and international clinical trials and collaborated with clinical researchers across Canada and internationally. However, at home in Vancouver, Drs. Gascoyne, Horsman and I realized we needed to add more basic lymphoid cancer...

Dr Connors and the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer

Thanks for having me back. I’m happy to share an update with you about what’s been happening here at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for Lymphoid Cancer (CLC). But first, I’ll back up a few steps, and introduce myself for those who may be new to the CLC. By 1981 I had finished my training in Internal Medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and Medical Oncology at Stanford University Medical Center. As I considered different career paths Dr. Saul Rosenberg, my fellowship program director, urged me to consider a career in academic medicine with a focus on clinical research...

Groundbreaking news & Introducing Dr. Connors

Before I introduce our next guest blogger, I must interrupt the schedule briefly here to share some exciting news with you. I am pleased to bring news today of another groundbreaking discovery in breast cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency. This new discovery is adding to the strong momentum of hope and change in cancer research in British Columbia. For the first time, the BC Cancer Agency's breast cancer research team, led by Dr. Sam Aparicio, has decoded the genetic make-up of triple negative breast cancer—the most deadly form of breast cancers. Triple negative breast cancer currently...

Looking Ahead

For patients, research is hope. If we’re not doing research then there is nothing in the pipeline for them. For patients that have treatments fail, or no treatment options left, research is new hope for them. Research is absolutely necessary to find new treatments and look at why some fail. While we continue to work on the EPI compounds, there is potential, based on literature that our new EPI compounds could possibly target some female cancers. Because this treatment is tied to the hormones used in these areas of the bodies, we can consider researching use across more than one kind of cancer...

Philanthropy Compresses Time

Philanthropy is a way of speeding up research, often much faster than grant funding. The process to acquire grants takes a long time – it can take years sometimes. For patients looking at the clock and measuring time, that’s terrible that it can takes that long to get research support. Philanthropic dollars can be immediately put to use. The BC Cancer Foundation can fund areas of research that granting bodies may not be able to fund. The discovery of the EPI drug compound was made possible by generous donations, which helped to seed our research work. In 2007, dedicated members of the public...

What EPI Means for Advanced Prostate Cancer

At the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre, my team and I are researching a new drug compound that we developed called EPI. Currently, we are trying to get the legal authorization to use the drug with patients, and to do this we have to show toxicity levels and other requirements to ensure it is safe. We anticipate starting clinical trials with the drug by the end of this year. Patients do ask where we are at, and we are going to be there in less than twelve months – we really are getting close. It’s quite an amazing feeling as a scientist to develop a novel drug, it’s a dream actually. Prostate...

A Eureka Moment of Discovery

The moment of discovery for a scientist is when you know something that no one else in the world knows. These are the moments that carry us, as scientists. Yet there are different degrees of excitement about discoveries. Most are small and incremental, building a bigger picture of how something works. There is one moment in my career that will be etched in my mind forever. This was the moment my technician, Jean, showed me the data of a new drug we were testing in a lab model of advanced prostate cancer. First I looked at the tumour growth rates. Jean was excited and told me that the tumours...

Thinking “Outside of The Box”

I feel very fortunate to have had great mentors throughout my career to date, because they have helped me get to where I am. In the field of Urology, which includes studying prostate cancer research, approximately 13 per cent of all urologists are female, and even fewer are in leadership roles within the field. We really are a minority in this area. I am passionate about female mentorship in research in general. It’s a demanding occupation, and balance of family-work life can be difficult. Cancer research is an enormous field, and to continue discovering cures we need to have as many...

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