Nova Scotia researchers join Atlantic Cancer Consortium to accelerate precision medicine for cancer patients

Halifax, NS – Nova Scotia doctors and scientists are partnering with colleagues in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador to focus on research that will improve cancer outcomes in Atlantic Canada.

The group will work together under a joint pilot project over the next two years with the goal of becoming a member of the Terry Fox Research Institute’s new Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network, a pan-Canadian research network to accelerate precision medicine for cancer patients.

Dr. Robin Urquhart, the consortium’s provincial lead in Nova Scotia, is an affiliate scientist with Nova Scotia Health and an associate professor at Dalhousie University.

“Over the next two years, we will set the stage for advancing precision medicine in Atlantic Canada,” said Dr. Urquhart. “For Nova Scotians, this will mean better access to clinical trials for new cancer treatments, a better ability to match treatments to a patient’s specific cancer, closer-to-home testing to monitor how patients respond to treatment, and so much more. It is really an exciting time for us here in Atlantic Canada, and I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the consortium.”

The Atlantic Cancer Consortium has a commitment of $3.6 million in new funding for the region from provincial and national partners. In Nova Scotia, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, MITACS Canada, QEII Foundation, and Research Nova Scotia have contributed approximately $1 million of the total regional amount.

Consortium members will be involved in five projects, three of which are led (or co-led) by Nova Scotian researchers who will be:

  • creating a regional biobank of biological material (colorectal and lung cancer specimens) and clinical data;
  • building a bioinformatics team focused on data analysis and genomics information sharing within Atlantic Canada; and
  • leading a scientific research project on care for lung cancer patients in rural and underserved areas.

“We are extremely happy to officially launch the Atlantic Cancer Consortium and to see funding and research partners across the region come together for the first time ever to work on this important project,” said Dr. Sherri Christian, Atlantic Cancer Consortium project leader and immunologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. “Our goal is to harness the talent that already exists in the region to solve cancer problems that affect our diverse populations.”

When designated, the Atlantic Cancer Consortium will join the Quebec Cancer Consortium, the British Columbia Cancer Consortium, and the Ontario-based Princess Margaret Cancer Consortium as full members of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network, as well as the Prairies Cancer Research Consortium, expected to join later this year.

The Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network is funded with a $150-million contribution from the Government of Canada, to be matched by research partners. The network is creating linkages between researchers and institutions across Canada, enabling cancer researchers to share data, knowledge and resources like never before. This is helping create the Team Canada of Cancer Research, which will work together to advance precision medicine for all Canadians.

A full list of researcher partners and funders, along with information about the projects and research teams are available on the Terry Fox Research Institute’s Atlantic Cancer Consortium website.

NOVA SCOTIA PARTNER QUOTES

Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute:

“The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute’s partnership with the Atlantic Cancer Consortium and the Terry Fox Research Institute’s Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network represents an unprecedented opportunity to mobilize and coordinate the cancer research expertise and talent that already exist within Atlantic Canada and will effectively connect our research efforts across the country. This initiative will not only advance our understanding of cancer but will offer Atlantic Canadians access to cutting-edge treatments and strategies to deal with cancer.” 

– Dr. Gerry Johnston, Scientific Director

Dalhousie University:

“The investment in the ACC is a testament to the excellent collaborative relationships established between Dalhousie University, and our partners across the region. We are fortunate to have a researcher of Dr. Urquhart’s calibre to help lead the research initiatives in Nova Scotia.” 

– Dr. David Anderson, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University.

QEII Foundation:

“The QEII Foundation is a proud funding partner of the new Atlantic Cancer Consortium. This innovative initiative will play a critical role in advancing precision medicine within our region – ultimately improving the lives and treatment journeys of the one in two Atlantic Canadians who will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.” 

– Susan Mullin, President and CEO, QEII Foundation

 Nova Scotia Health:

“Nova Scotians will greatly benefit from the projects that are being led by the physicians and scientists participating in the Atlantic Cancer Consortium. These partnerships will enhance the cancer care that we will be able to provide for patients and families in the future and will catalyze a new biobank strategy for Nova Scotia Health, as well as advance our bioinformatics capability.”

– Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, VP of Research, Innovation and Discovery, and Chief Nurse Executive, Nova Scotia Health

Research Nova Scotia:

“Dr. Urquhart’s work will enhance care delivery systems and personalized treatment options for all cancer patients in our province. This research increases physician resources and regional expertise that will help ensure patients receive the right care at the right time.”

– Stefan Leslie, CEO, Research Nova Scotia

MEDIA CONTACTS

Nova Scotia Health Media Relations
Toll free: 1-844-483-3344
Kelly Curwin
Chief Communications Officer
Terry Fox Research Institute
778-237-8158