**** NSHA Media Release
Nova Scotia researchers join Atlantic Cancer Consortium to accelerate
precision medicine for cancer patients
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.