Canadian Cancer Society Innovation grant funded by Estate of W. Gary Rowe

22 August 2013

St. John's, NL -

Memorial University of Newfoundland researcher Dr. Mani Larijani has been awarded a new Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grant to study how to stop an immune system enzyme from turning some immune cells into aggressive cancer cells. The grant is one of 37 recently announced by the Society.

The four-year grant, worth close to $200,000, is made possible because of a generous donation from the Estate of W. Gary Rowe. Rowe, born in St. John’s in 1944, was a successful lawyer, an art collector, and philanthropist. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1988. He practiced corporate law until his retirement. His local business interests included investments in real estate and a number or private companies. Predeceased by his parents, Gary passed peacefully away on June 21, 2010.

“Research was important to Gary. And community was important to Gary. This donation brings those two things together so wonderfully. He would be proud and we are proud to be supporting this project,” says Betty Simms, Rowe’s wife.

Dr. Larijani and his research team are studying an enzyme – called AID – that makes antibodies more effective at fighting infection, but can also mistakenly turn some immune cells into the most aggressive types of cancers and may also make some tumour cells resistant to cancer treatments. AID makes these mistakes in almost half of the genes in those immune cells. The research team will be studying the function of the enzyme in lymphoma and leukemia.

Not much is known about how the structure of the enzyme and how it works and Dr. Larijani’s lab is one of the few research groups working with AID.  The team has already made some interesting discoveries related to AID – including comparing how AID works in different animals and humans and computer modeling of AID – on which his new project builds. He will continue his pioneering work with his new grant and will study the enzyme in details to determine which are the critical parts of its structure so that treatments can be developed to block its harmful functions. In the long term, the findings can be used to develop agents to block the harmful activity and improve the outcome of treatments for leukemia and lymphoma.


For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333; TTY, 1 866 786-3934.

For more information, please contact:

Al Pelley

Vice President of Philanthropy

Canadian Cancer Society-NL Division

Phone: (709) 753-6522