Working to beat breast cancer

Working to beat breast cancer

Four Queen’s researchers receive funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

By Anne Craig

July 23, 2015


The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is providing over $1 million in funding to four Queen’s University researchers who are investigating different aspects of breast cancer including testing, metastasis and the immune system.

Tomas Babak (Biology) has received $446,575 over three years. Dr. Babak is working on uncovering the causes of breast cancer that act by disrupting gene regulation and using this information to develop a diagnostic test. This will help guide a therapeutic course of action.

Tomas Baldassarre and Binbing Ling have earned fellowships through the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has received $450,000 over three years. Dr. Greer’s research explores interactions between cancer cells and the immune system. He is working to coax the immune system back into action and stimulate cancer immunity against invading cancer cells using oncolytic viruses.

Two trainees in Andrew Craig’s lab (Cancer Biology & Genetics) also received fellowship awards after their research projects were selected as two of the top research projects in Ontario. Tomas Baldassarre received a doctoral fellowship worth $35,000 and Binbing (Erica) Ling earned a post-doctoral fellowship valued at $45,000.

“It’s not easy to earn these fellowships as we are competing against students from across Ontario,” says Mr. Baldassarre. “This funding takes the financial burden off of us and allows us to concentrate on our research.”

Mr. Baldassarre is focusing on the driving forces behind breast cancer metastasis and to develop better therapies against this deadly stage of the disease. His research has identified a protein called endophilin that promotes breast cancer metastasis, and he will attempt to target this pathway to provide better treatment options.

Dr. Ling is working to develop antibodies that block the key components that drive breast cancer progression and metastasis leading to the development of more effective and selective therapies to treat the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

“I’ve been researching breast cancer since 2007 after I had a friend go through it,” says Dr. Ling. “This award recognizes my work and allows me to focus on moving my research forward.”

Supervisor Andrew Craig is understandably proud of his trainees and the opportunities the funding provides.

“Portions of the students’ stipend can now be redirected towards research now that Erica and Tomas have earned these fellowships. We can leverage the new funds into more vibrant research projects,” says Dr. Craig. “Winning these awards is an incredible honour. It shows our overarching research program is moving in the right direction to stop breast cancer in its tracks.”

For information about the CBCF visit the website.

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