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Leaders in cancer research

To recognize World Cancer Day, Queen’s is highlighting current partnerships and research projects to develop novel treatments, support better outcomes, and advance quality of life for people with cancer globally.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, two in five Canadian adults are expected to develop cancer in their lifetimes. While significant strides have been made to increase survival rates, cancer remains a leading cause of death in Canada and around the world. On World Cancer Day we reflect on some of the recent advances our faculty, staff, and student researchers have made, furthering our understanding of cancer and their ground-breaking efforts to improve treatment, access, and care in our local, national, and global communities. As leaders in interdisciplinary health and wellness, Queen’s researchers are driving progress and innovation in novel therapies, health practice, and health policy.

[Art of Research Photo: Immunofluorescence Stain by Shakeel Virk and Lee Boudreau, CCTG Tissue Bank]
Art of Research Photo: Immunofluorescence Stain by Shakeel Virk and Lee Boudreau, CCTG Tissue Bank

Ground-breaking innovation

New blood test helps with earlier cancer detection and better treatment

Christopher Mueller (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute) has led a team of researchers at Queen’s in developing a new detection, mDETECT, and characterization method that is a more sensitive means of detecting and monitoring the presence of cancer and allowing for real time monitoring of a patient’s response to chemotherapy to optimize treatment.

Trialled and true

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), based at Queen’s University, plays a critical role in the fight against cancer by designing and administering clinical trials in cancer therapy, supportive care, and prevention across Canada. Since its establishment in 1980, CCTG has supported more than 600 phase I-III trials enrolling approximately 100,000 patients from 40 countries on six continents. At any given time, CCTG has 60 to 70 active clinical trials.

Advancing cellular therapy

Annette Hay (Canadian Cancer Trials Group; Medicine) and Jonathan Bramson (McMaster University) have received more than $5 million to develop a national cellular therapy translation research platform. ExCELLirate Canada will develop cell therapies as safe and viable treatment options through identifying biological mechanisms affecting safety and designing cost-effective methods for the harvest, expansion, manipulation, purification, and delivery of the cells.

Predicting cancer spread with natural language processing

Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Computing and Informatics Amber Simpson (Computing; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and Farhana Zulkernine (Computing) with radiologist Richard Do of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are developing technology that will relieve the issues that come from gathering data from CT scans and can predict how cancer will spread in patients using natural language processing.

[Art of Research Photo: Leaving Home by Eric Y Lian, Queen’s University]
Art of Research Photo: Leaving Home by Eric Y Lian, Queen’s University

Advancing health equity

Inuit cancer patients often face difficult decisions without support far from home

In The Conversation Canada, Janet Jull (Rehabilitation Therapy), Malaya Zehr (Rehabilitation Therapy), and partners from the Inuit Medical Interpreter Team and Mamisarvik Healing Centre, Tungasuvvingat Inuit discuss their aims to understand the experiences of Inuit who travel from remote to urban settings for cancer care and the health and social inequities this group faces in accessing healthcare.

World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the largest and oldest international cancer organization dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

Do randomized cancer trials truly reflect the global burden of cancer?

A study led by Canada Research Chair in Populations Cancer Care Christopher Booth (Oncology; Public Health Sciences) with Bishal Gyawali (Public Health Sciences; Oncology) and Nazik Hammad (Global Health; Oncology) found that controlled trials disproportionately study breast cancer while other cancers, including cervix, gastroesophageal and pancreas, are under-represented even though they account for a substantial proportion of global cancer death.

Why cancer care isn’t ‘one-size-fits-all’ from one country to another

Fabio Ynoe de Moraes (Oncology) was a co-lead author of a policy review in Lancet Oncology that designed a checklist to allow countries to establish a baseline of existing cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment resources and to support strategies to actively encourage access to care for their underserved populations.  

FHS researchers study the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients

Jacqueline Galica (Nursing) led a study to better understand how older cancer survivors are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were able to make recommendations on how they believe their care could have been improved and suggest opportunities for innovation moving forward.

Access to essential cancer medicines is unequal globally

Research from Christopher Booth (Oncology; Public Health Sciences) with collaborators at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Lancet Oncology asked oncologists worldwide to list the most important cancer medicines and to describe whether patients could access these medicines in their home country.

Pioneering leadership

International leadership in cancer recognized with 2021 Gairdner Award

Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Professor Emerita (Oncology; Medicine), received the 2021 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her dedication to transforming the fields of cancer clinical trials and cancer drug delivery.

Queen’s health researcher receives inaugural Canadian Cancer Society Lifetime Contribution Prize

Joseph Pater, Professor Emeritus (Medicine; Oncology) and inaugural director of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, received the Canadian Cancer Society Lifetime Contribution Prize for his contributions, vision, and leadership in enhancing the Canadian cancer research landscape to significantly benefit the lives of people with cancer.