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Introducing Dr. Brian Toyota

Thank you Dr. Aly Karsan for guest blogging with us last month about the Personalized Medicine Project (PMP) – it is an excellent example of the leading-edge research taking place at the BC Cancer Agency. I am now pleased to introduce our final guest blogger for 2011: Dr. Brian Toyota. Dr. Toyota is the Provincial Chair of Neuro-Oncology at the BC Cancer Agency and he is going to blog about BrainCare BC, as well his experience at the BC Cancer Agency. Please welcome Dr. Brian Toyota and follow his posts this month. Festive regards, Douglas

Virtual Marathon for Medical Research: Supporting breast cancer research

This is a brief interruption to Dr. Aly Karsan’s blogging to share an interesting fundraising opportunity that is happening right now online—it’s a virtual race! The BC Cancer Agency has recently entered into the Virtual Marathon for Medical Research presented by the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC). It is a virtual race that will take place on December 11, 2011, where 10 different charities will race to win money for their cause; and each charity is represented by an avatar based on the likeness of a real person. One of our recent guest bloggers, Dr. Karen Gelmon , will...

The Personalized Medicine Project (PMP)

Right now, cancer treatment is predominantly a one-size-fits-all approach. Cancer patients may undergo multiple courses of treatments until the right one for them is found. As you can imagine, this can cause added stress for patients and their families, as well as the pressure of time—which not all patients can afford to lose. One of the ideas behind personalized medicine is to provide more effective treatment options for cancer patients upon diagnosis by examining changes in the patient’s tumor DNA to develop an individualized treatment plan for their particular cancer. Personalized medicine...

A closer look at acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Eventually, I wanted to enhance the bridging of my clinical and research work, and the BC Cancer Agency was—and continues to be—a great place to do that because it is both a research and care organization. I knew that my clinical expertise could inform my research in exciting and meaningful ways and vice versa. The bridge I found was through the study of myeloid cancers – with a particular focus on a type of pre-leukemia called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). “Myeloid” means having to do with white blood cells. About 30-40% of patients with MDS will transform to acute myeloid leukemia (AML),...

About me—From Queen’s to Vancouver

Hello, my name is Aly Karsan and I am the head of the Centre for Clinical Diagnostic Genomics and the Medical Director of the Cancer Genetics Lab at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and Pathology department, respectively. I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and attended Queen’s University for both my Bachelor of Arts in Life Sciences and for my medical degree. I then came out to Vancouver to do a summer studentship in a genetics lab at the University of British Columbia. This was the first time I’d come out to Vancouver, and I loved it – I made a decision that I would find my way...

Cancer Speak: November 4, 2011

I’m really excited about what’s to come with Dr. Aly Karsan’s posts, but I had to take this chance to talk about some timely stories that came out this week. According to new StatsCan data, cancer is now the leading cause of death in every province. It is clear that as a community—locally, provincially and nationally—we must become fully aware of the impact that cancer has on individuals and families. We must also understand that this statistic is not set in stone. We at the BC Cancer Foundation believe that a world free from cancer can be achieved through the partnership of philanthropy and...

Introducing Dr. Aly Karsan

Around the office at the BC Cancer Foundation we are still thrilled with the success of last week’s Inspiration Gala event. To those of you who attended or volunteered – thank you again for your support – we could not have raised over $1.5 million without you! Last week concluded Dr. Karen Gelmon’s guest blog posts – thank you Dr. Gelmon for sharing your experience at the BC Cancer Agency with us. It was interesting to learn about Phase I clinical trials and how you are involved in breast cancer research. Now we turn to November, and I would like to introduce our next guest blogger, Dr. Aly...

Inspiration Gala raises over $1.5 million to revolutionize cancer care in B.C.

Last night, our seventh Inspiration Gala proved to be an amazing evening. Thanks to the 400 guests who attended the Moroccan- and Indian-inspired event, we raised over $1.5 million to support the Personalized Medicine Project at the BC Cancer Agency – it was truly inspiring. I would like to extend a big thank you and congratulations to our Inspiration Gala committee and chair, Monika Deol, for putting together such a successful and beautiful event. Our MC for the evening was nothing short of amazing as he – Peter Mansbridge of CBC – captivated the room with his stories and drew attention to...

Other Aspects of Research and the Future

Cancer is not just about tumours—it’s about the people who develop cancer. In my career, I have seen a lot of improvements in the treatments for cancer, which include better survival rates and less toxic treatments. I have also seen an increased appreciation for cancer prevention and for survivorship—the two ends of the spectrum. I have been involved in a number of prevention activities, including a large trial with the National Cancer Institute of Canada–Clinical Trials Group (NCIC-CTG) that just reported a beneficial effect for the drug exemestane in preventing breast cancer. I am also...

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