Cancer research transformed by landmark gift to Queen’s University

Health Sciences

Cancer research transformed by landmark gift to Queen’s University

Newly named Cara & Murray Sinclair Cancer Research Institute looks toward the future of cancer care and treatments.

By Communications Staff

June 10, 2024


Speakers and special guests at the gift announcement.

From left to right: Dave Tidman, patient advocate; Andrew Craig, Director, Sinclair Cancer Research Institute; Jane Philpott, Dean, Queen’s Health Sciences; Murray Sinclair, alumnus and donor; Annette Hay, Senior Investigator, Canadian Cancer Trials Group; Cara Sinclair; Cathy Tidman, patient advocate; Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor; Paul Kubes, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Immunophysiology and Immunotherapy.

A transformational gift is set to significantly advance cancer research at Queen’s. With support from Murray (Com’84) and Cara Sinclair, the university will build research capacity in an area of existing strength, establish advanced facilities, create training opportunities, and work to improve cancer care and treatments locally, nationally, and around the world. 

In recognition of their $25 million contribution, the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute (QCRI) will be renamed the Cara & Murray Sinclair Cancer Research Institute (SCRI). 

“Queen’s is grateful to the Sinclair family for their incredible generosity and support for cancer research,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Their gift will enhance the Cara & Murray Sinclair Cancer Research Institute’s ability to discover new potential treatments, test new drugs, and evaluate the impact that these treatments have on patients. It will also help develop highly skilled trainees who will be the next leaders in cancer research.” 

The SCRI is the only Canadian center uniting experts from three key disciplines—cancer biology and genetics, clinical trials, and cancer care and epidemiology—to share knowledge, advance treatments, and evaluate patient impact. The SCRI’s clinical trials division is already an international leader in cancer research and drug development, and the institution is home to world-class researchers, including the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Immunophysiology and Immunotherapy, Dr. Paul Kubes, and several Canada Research Chairs. 

“Queen’s takes a unique, collaborative approach to cancer research. It integrates multiple disciplines to solve problems in new ways, with a constant focus on better outcomes for patients,” say the Sinclairs. “Our family is proud to support the institute and we hope that this gift inspires even more support for cancer research at Queen’s.” 

New facilities and innovations in care

The Sinclair family’s gift will support two new science facilities equipped to help researchers advance new discoveries and therapies for patients. 

A state-of-the-art imaging facility will give researchers a real-time view of the immune system interacting with cancer cells. It will advance our understanding of how cancer cells defend against the immune system and resist treatments, allowing researchers to advance new drugs and therapies. 

A second specialized biomanufacturing facility will be developed to enable personalized cellular immunotherapy treatments that harness the power of the body’s own immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. These therapies are among the most promising new approaches to cancer treatment and this facility aims to make them available to Canadian patients faster for clinical trials. 

Researchers’ abilities to assess the impact of treatments on patients and to evaluate drug effectiveness will also be strengthened by the donation, and an innovation fund will be launched to support greater research collaboration and team-based research. 

Training the next cancer researchers 

The Sinclair family’s gift will benefit aspiring cancer researchers as well. A new training program will be established to enable students and early-career researchers to gain hands-on experience and mentorship from senior cancer researchers in a multidisciplinary environment, so they can emerge as highly skilled leaders in the field. 

“From basic science research and testing new drugs in trials to assessing the value of treatments, this gift supports the institute’s approach to taking cancer research from labs all the way to patients, and back,” says Andrew Craig, SCRI Director. “This gift has the potential to dramatically improve the way that we treat cancer.” 

Founded in 2001, the Sinclair Cancer Research Institute has grown into the largest research concentration in Queen’s Health Sciences, and it is committed to improving cancer control through research that spans disciplines and investigates connections among fundamental, clinical, and population research. To learn more about this important gift and its impact, visit the Cara & Murray Sinclair Cancer Research Institute website.

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