Dr. François Bénard
Vice-president, research, BC Cancer

Dr. Bénard trained in medicine and nuclear medicine in Sherbrooke, Quebec. After undertaking a Research Fellowship in Positron Emission Tomography at the University of Pennsylvania, he is now the Head of Nuclear Medicine and Professor, Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia, and holds the BC Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging at the University of British Columbia. He is also the Scientific Director of the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging at the BC Cancer Agency and a distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Research Centre.

His research interests are in positron emission tomography (PET), nuclear medicine, and cancer imaging. His current projects relate to the development of new radiopharmaceuticals to image receptors and enzymes overexpressed in breast and prostate cancers, as well as to new isotope production methods.

You can read Dr. Bénard's blog posts here.

Blog Posts by Dr. François Bénard

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 blog posts

The future of cancer research in British Columbia

There is much to look forward to with regard to cancer research and care here in British Columbia. My primary hope would be to improve our ability to provide the right treatments to patients much earlier than we are able to now. For the most part, we still give a one-size-fits-all approach to large cohorts of patients, depending on the type of tumour they have. There is a need to improve our ability to determine who will respond to these types of treatment and who won’t, before we deliver it. That way, we can choose a better course of treatment for that individual’s specific cancer type. This...

A year of breakthroughs at BC Cancer

We are very fortunate to have so many key visionaries at BC Cancer, who think big and outside the box as we work to solve the complex issue of this disease. As a result, our knowledge of cancer continues to grow, in turn boosting our ability to better prevent, detect and treat it. One of the biggest trends over the past year has been our focus on building the infrastructure to expand our understanding of single cell genomics. Through this we are able to look at the DNA sequences of a patient's individual cancer cells and isolate them to better understand the prevalence of these cells and what...

Fostering an environment of research excellence

Hello, My name is Dr. François Bénard, and I’m the Vice President of research at BC Cancer. It’s a pleasure to return as guest blogger for the BC Cancer Foundation as we wrap up 2017. A number of achievements have been made to move the needle this past year and I’m excited to discuss them with you this month. First – a little about me. In my role as Vice President of research, I oversee the strategic direction of research and plan how we use our resources to improve our research output, as well as how we expand and consolidate our team and recruit new talent. Our goal is to make sure we...

What’s in store for functional cancer imaging?

We’ve been fortunate to have PET/CT imaging for patients with suspected or diagnosed cancer for the past five years. However, demand has been growing, not only because the population is aging and the incidence of cancer is increasing, but also because PET/CT scans are increasingly recognized as an essential part of routine cancer care. To improve access to PET/CT scans in British Columbia, the BC Cancer Foundation is raising funds to purchase a second PET/CT scanner. The Provincial Health Services Authority and the BC Cancer Agency have committed to provide the operational funding, and the...

Functional Cancer Imaging research

Another part of my work is to lead an active research group on “Functional Cancer Imaging.” The purpose of my research is to improve and develop new methods to detect and characterize cancers by using tumor-seeking probes instead of simply looking for tumour masses using conventional means. Part of this includes evaluating which patients gain the most benefit from PET/CT scans performed using radioactive glucose . This is something we already use in the clinic and we are looking at means to improve the current procedures. I also conduct clinical trials to see how we can improve clinical care...

Radiopharmaceutical facility officially opens!

I’m excited because yesterday we officially celebrated the opening of the cyclotron and the radiopharmaceutical facility at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging. It’s an impressive space (6,000 square feet), and at its core is the cyclotron I mentioned in my previous post. This facility is important because we can now produce our own radioisotopes to perform PET/CT scans. We are grateful for the support TRIUMF has been providing until now, but being able to produce our own radioisotopes is an important step forward in our use of functional cancer imaging...

Radioisotopes and cancer imaging

Performing PET/CT scans is not simply a matter of purchasing a machine and installing it into a hospital room. We must produce the very short-lived radioactive tracers (radioisotopes), which we use to detect cancer, in close proximity. Since they are radioactive, these tracers disappear spontaneously very quickly, within a matter of minutes to hours. While this short time frame can pose logistical hurdles, it is ultimately a good thing, as we can make useful images without harming patients since the radioactivity goes away very quickly. In addition, we don’t leave any radioactive byproduct...

What’s a PET/CT scan?

As a nuclear medicine physician, I help patients by reading a special type of scan to detect cancers called a PET/CT scan. PET stands for “positron emission tomography” while CT stands for “computed tomography.” A PET scan is extremely sensitive — it can measure tiny amounts of radioactive material that show how organs function, all the way to the level of molecules and cellular biochemistry. By using trace amounts of glucose (sugar), which the cells (including tumours) metabolize, it has been shown that PET scans are so sensitive, they detect even small cancers. A PET/CT scanner The CT scan...

Meet Dr. François Bénard

My name is François Bénard and I am a clinician-scientist at the BC Cancer Agency . I am a joint employee between the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I am a Professor in the Department of Radiology, and the Academic Head of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. My position is supported by a research chair called the “BC Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging.” This research chair was funded by the BC Cancer Foundation (through generous donations) and the BC Government (through the Leading Edge Endowment Fund ). I am really grateful to both of these...