New frontiers in cancer research presented at cancer conference

30 November 2011

Toronto -

Cancer scientists from across Canada will come together to share some of the most promising research at the first Canadian Cancer Research Conference from November 28 to 30. The conference will highlight the research that is improving our understanding of the many diseases that are cancer – from cancer prevention and early detection, to new treatment therapies and patient care, as well as survivorship and end-of-life care.

As Canada’s longest-standing funder of cancer research, the Canadian Cancer Society has made a significant impact in the fight against cancer in Canada. The Society’s reinvigorated research portfolio will continue to support a vibrant research community that is seeking ways to reduce cancer risk, reduce cancer deaths and improve the quality of life of those living with cancer.

“There is great promise for the future as Canadian researchers accelerate our progress towards the control of cancer,” says Dr Michael Wosnick, vice-president of research for the Canadian Cancer Society. “Thanks to research, not only are more people surviving and living longer, but the quality of their lives during and after treatment has improved dramatically. And we are closer than ever to fully understanding many of the diseases we call ‘cancer,’ which prepares us to face the challenges ahead.”

Some of the most promising research will be presented at a session sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Cancer Research Society titled New Frontiers in Cancer Research. The session will take place on Wednesday, November 30 at 12 p.m. Presenting are scientists who are international leaders in their respective fields:

  • Toronto’s Dr John Dick, one of the world’s leading stem cell scientists, will highlight his research investigating the role cancer stem cells play in two types of leukemia – acute myelogenous leukemia and acute B lymphoblastic leukemia – in particular how the presence of the cancer stem cells may impact patient survival. Dr Dick’s lab was the first to discover cancer stem cells as the root of leukemia and colon cancer, leading to breakthroughs which have redefined cancer biology. Dr Dick has received research funding support from the Canadian Cancer Society for 17 years.
  • Dr Nahum Sonenberg , a celebrated researcher and scientist in the area of the control of cellular protein synthesis, will present his research on the activity of the protein mTOR, which is overexpressed in the majority of cancers, and could eventually be a target for treatment of cancer. Dr. Sonenberg has received numerous awards and honours for his scientific contributions, including the Gairdener Foundation International Award, the Killam Prize for Health Sciences and the Order of Canada. Dr Sonenberg has received research funding support from the Canadian Cancer Society for 17 years.
  • Dr Michael Taylor , a pediatric neurosurgeon whose research focuses on the causes and treatments of childhood brain cancer, will present his research findings that tumours that may appear identical and arise in the same anatomical site can have very different molecular characteristics and different outcomes, so should be treated as distinct diseases. The two pediatric cancers Dr Taylor is studying are medulloblastoma (affecting the brain) and ependymoma (affecting the brain and spine). Among medulloblastomas, survival rates among the molecular subgroups range from greater than 90 per cent to less than 5 per cent, despite looking identical under the microscope. The findings could lead to more personalized, targeted treatments and would ensure that the best treatment is given for each form of the disease, potentially sparing some children from the long-term effects of some toxic cancer treatments. Dr Taylor has won numerous awards including the 2009 Canadian Cancer Society Young Investigator Award and was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. Dr Taylor has received funding support from the Canadian Cancer Society throughout his career.


The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

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For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340