Brain cancer gets big boost in research funding from Canadian Cancer Society

04 February 2015

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with Brain Canada and the Government of Canada, will fund an additional $5 million in brain cancer research, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced at a press conference in Toronto today (February 4 is World Cancer Day).

Four large research grants – valued at $1.25 million each – were awarded to research teams in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Three of the 4 projects will focus on brain cancer in children.

“Every year, too many parents are faced with the devastating words “your child has cancer.” Those 4 words mark the beginning of a very difficult journey for these children and their families," says Pamela Fralick, President and CEO, Canadian Cancer Society. “Brain cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in young children. There is a huge need for more research on brain cancers, both in children and adults, so that we can save people’s lives and ensure that their lives are of good quality with minimal side effects of treatment.”

Brain cancer is also the second most common cause of cancer death (after leukemia) among older adolescents and young adults aged 15-29 years. Brain cancer in adults is a devastating disease with a 5-year survival rate of only 25%, compared to 63% for cancers overall. “This money will help us to make real and significant progress against this disease. We are very grateful for the support from Brain Canada, as well as from our generous donors who are making this possible,” says Fralick.

More about the partnership

The partnership is unique because it enables the Canadian Cancer Society to leverage matching funds from Brain Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund, a public-private partnership established by the Government of Canada. Through this fund, non-federal donations are matched dollar for dollar by federal funds to support Canadian neuroscience research and advance knowledge and treatment of brain disease and mental disorders. The joint funding platform is designed to fund new research that will quickly adopt innovations and accelerate the application of new knowledge to address problems in brain cancer. This partnership between two leading research funders will result in increased investment in brain cancer research and will encourage collaboration between scientists from the cancer and neuroscience fields.

“This represents the largest partnership investment in brain cancer that the Society has ever made,” says Fralick.

The Canadian Cancer Society welcomes opportunities to partner with organizations with shared goals in order to make more impact against all cancers for the benefit of all Canadians.

More about matching funds

The funding model announced today is an opportunity for donors to make an even bigger impact because every dollar donated to the Canadian Cancer Society’s brain cancer Impact Grants over last year and up until January 2016 will be matched dollar for dollar by Brain Canada. “Our partnership with Brain Canada was the catalyst for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to get on board. They are the first partner whose support, when matched, will fully fund an Impact Grant. We are inspired by their leadership and grateful to everyone who contributed. Every dollar raised for this initiative will go even further in the fight against brain cancer,” says Fralick.

Canadians wishing to make a matching fund donation to the Society’s brain cancer Impact Grants can contact their local Canadian Cancer Society office.

More about brain cancer
  • Approximately 1,700 men and 1,250 women in Canada were diagnosed with brain cancer  last year and nearly 2,000 Canadians will die of the disease this year
  • About 170 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with brain cancer every year in Canada
  • It is the most common cause of cancer death in children aged 0-14
  • It is the second most common cause of cancer death among older adolescents and young adults aged 15-29
  • In adults, the most common type of primary malignant brain tumour is glioblastoma multiforme. People with this disease survive on average only 1 year after diagnosis.
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for adults with brain cancer is 25%, compared to 63% for all cancers.
  • Because brain tumours are located at the control centre for thought, emotion, and movement, they can dramatically affect an individual's physical and cognitive abilities and quality of life.
  • For children with brain cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 75%, however they often live with long-term side effects or “late effects”, which include:
    • psychological or social problems
    • learning disabilities
    • growth and developmental problems
    • hearing problems
Quotes from partners

“Brain Canada is proud to partner with the Canadian Cancer Society to create a bridge between cancer and neuroscience research by supporting these outstanding brain cancer research projects. Through the Canada Brain Research Fund, Brain Canada and the Government of Canada are matching the funds raised from the donors and partners on these projects, bringing the total investment to $5 million. This significant investment will advance our understanding of brain cancer which will ultimately have impacts on patient care and treatment.” Inez Jabalpurwala President and CEO, Brain Canada Foundation.

“Today, as we mark World Cancer Day, I am pleased to announce these research projects that will help to improve overall scientific knowledge and advance our understanding of cancer, with a special emphasis on childhood cancer. Our government will continue to encourage partnerships to support innovative approaches in cancer research that will have a real impact.” The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health.

“We don’t know enough about brain tumours. By coming together with Brain Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society, we can make a significant impact on brain tumour research, which is exactly what the patients and families that we serve every day need.” Carl Cadogan, CEO, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada

About the new brain cancer research announced today
  • Poul Sorensen, University of British Columbia, is investigating how cancer cells thrive in stressful environments in the body.
  • David Stojdl, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, is focused on boosting the power of oncolytic viruses to treat brain cancers.
  • Uri Tabori, Hospital for Sick Children, is working on developing a simple blood or urine test to detect cancer.
  • Michael Taylor, Hospital for Sick Children, is studying a large collection of childhood brain tumour samples – specifically medulloblastomas – from around the world. He is looking to personalize therapies so that children with high-risk cancers get the aggressive treatments they need, while those with lower-risk cancers can receive a gentler regime to spare them some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
About the Canadian Cancer Society’s Impact Grants program

These are the largest single grants offered by the Canadian Cancer Society at a maximum value of $1.25 million per grant over 5 years. Grants of this size are unusual; they are highly prestigious, and are intended to fund the best, most promising cancer science in the country and move it significantly forward.

12 new Impact Grants were awarded by the Canadian Cancer Society this month, for a total value of almost $15 million. Four of these newly awarded grants will focus on brain cancer.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada. Thanks to our generous donors and our rigorous, gold-standard peer-review process, we are funding hundreds of researchers in universities, hospitals and research centres across Canada. The Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Together we are discovering new ways to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934). Make your gift today at cancer.ca.

About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. For more than one decade, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families. Learn more at braincanada.ca

About the Canada Brain Research Fund

The Canada Brain Research Fund is a public-private partnership designed to encourage Canadians to increase their support of brain research, and maximize the impact and efficiency of those investments. Brain Canada has committed to raising $100 million from private and non-governmental sources, which will be matched by the government on a 1:1 basis.  The Government of Canada committed up to $100 million over six years (2011-2017) to establish the Canada Brain Research Fund. This fund supports Canadian neuroscience research and advances knowledge and treatment of brain disease and mental disorders.

About Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada

Founded in 1982, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is the only national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to reaching every Canadian affected by a brain tumour through support, education, information and research. Every year, thousands of people affected by brain tumours find hope through the Foundation, while gaining a better understanding and knowledge of their disease. Every day, 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour and there are an estimated 55,000 currently living with the disease. The Foundation is funded solely through generous contributions from individuals, corporations, organizations, employee groups and special events. Learn more at braintumour.ca


For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340