School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Cancer Research

Collage of photos from Cancer Research


"I am very pleased to be a part of the Collaborative Cancer Research Program at Queen’s University - the key word here being ‘collaborative’ - as this program emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to provide students with centralized access to a broad range of cancer research opportunities. Consequently, I have had the opportunity to meet with fellow graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors with broad fundamental and translational research interests, and thus have gained valuable insights that have helped shape me and my thesis project along the way.”

Anthony Apostoli PhD candidate

Program Contact

For enquiries, contact the Graduate Assistant in the department and graduate program in which you are applying OR

For detailed information go to:




CRI Shaping Our Future

CRI Passionate

CRI Collaboration

Program Overview

The graduate program in cancer research is jointly offered by the Departments of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, Pathology & Molecular Medicine, Public Health Sciences, Psychology and Translational Medicine. The strengths in graduate education in Cancer Research at Queen’s span many research areas including structural and tumour biology and genetics, through epidemiology, to outcomes research, cell signaling and health policy development.


Our students have the opportunity for centralized access to a broad range of cancer research opportunities available to them within the Faculty of Health Sciences, and at Queen’s University as a whole. The collaborative program provides an intellectual focus on cancer and connects researchers and graduate students with different perspectives on this area. The program encourages interactions of researchers and students with common interests in cancer, regardless of departmental home, and at the same time facilitates productive interaction between individuals involved in different research areas, all focused on different aspects of cancer research.

Career paths – employment opportunities

Graduates of the collaborative program in Cancer Research can expect to find a wealth of employment opportunities in the area of cancer research or related fields including basic or applied research or other employment in academic centres, industry or health research institutions, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, private industry and many other career paths.

Degrees Offered/Method of Completion

Degrees Offered

M.Sc. : 24 months (full time)

Ph.D.: 36 months (full time)

Method of Completion

Graduate students in the collaborative program will be required to satisfy the academic requirements of the program-of-registration, as well as complete the following:

  • A thesis project in an area of Cancer Research.
  • One or more designated Cancer Research courses.
  • Participate in the Cancer Research Seminar Series.
Fields of study and Supervisors

Areas of cancer research interest span multiple Departments. Students are encouraged to contact potential Supervisors within their specific area of interest to discuss enrolment in the collaborative program. Research areas include:

Molecular Epidemiology

Molecular Epidemiology – focuses on the contribution of potential genetic and environmental risk factors, identified at the molecular and biochemical level to the etiology, distribution, and prevention of disease. Explores cancer etiology by incorporating laboratory methods to document the molecular dose, and pre-clinical effects of carcinogens, as well as factors that increase individual susceptibility to carcinogens. Trainees will conduct research developing or employing biomarkers of genetic susceptibility, carcinogenic exposure and mechanisms, and intermediate endpoints.

Cancer Genetics, Gene Regulation and Molecular Diagnostics

Focuses on the genetic implications of cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and on novel strategies for improving these processes. Employs postgenomic/proteomic era research methodology in such areas as transcriptional regulation, genotype/phenotype based prediction of disease course, genetic association studies, and biomarker development. Research areas include: gene regulation, pharmacogenomic applications in diagnosis, drug design, treatment and prediction of outcomes, implications and psychosocial impact of population screening and genetic testing.

Drug Development & Experimental Therapeutics

Focuses on the development and characterization of novel drugs and therapeutic modalities through to initial application of new drugs in cancer patients. Relevant topics include small molecule design and evaluation, development and validation of cell-based and preclinical models, preclinical drug testing, design and interpretation of phase I and II trials, with an emphasis on regulatory, and ethical requirements.

Cellular Regulation and Signal Transduction in Cancer Cells

 Focuses on areas of cancer biology including tumor progression and metastasis, drug resistance and metabolism, and regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Specific interests include cytoplasmic and nuclear signalling cascades, gene expression and function in malignant cells, stromal-tumor interactions, and metastasis. Training takes advantage of state-of-the-art approaches including genomic and proteomic resources, structure/function analysis, microarray based gene expression profiling, and animal models.

Cancer Care & Service Delivery

Focuses on integrating clinical and health services research to optimize patient outcomes. Training addresses themes including: access to timely diagnosis and treatment, improving doctor-patient communication, making appropriate treatment decisions, correct treatment delivery, and adequate follow up care and patient preferences and education. Training includes: clinical epidemiologic, psychology, health services, and health policy research methods.

Outcomes Research and Health Policy Development

Focuses on measurement, evaluation, and improvement of patient outcomes in delivery of cancer care. Training areas include development and implementation of medical management policies, geographic variations in the management and outcome of cancer, and the structure of the cancer system and its influence on the effectiveness and efficiency of treatment programs. Thesis research in the areas of cancer morbidity and mortality outcomes, evaluation of patient symptoms and quality of life, patient experience of and satisfaction with health care, and the social consequences of cancer care will be available.

Drug Metabolism and Pharmacogenetics

Focuses on drug metabolism, gene expression, availability and regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes. Research projects employ in vitro and in vivo systems to explore the metabolism and disposition of endogenous and exogenous compounds, including pharmacologic agents and environmental chemicals.

Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis

Focuses on molecular mechanisms of chemical, physical, and viral (biological) carcinogenesis. Training opportunities include studies of genetic and epigenetic pathways regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, and death; carcinogenesis studies in transgenic mice; and research on tumor viruses. The effects of environmental and endogenous factors on tumour growth and DNA damage, and the implications of these events for oncogene activation, DNA amplification, gene transposition, and chromosome translocations are research foci.

and blurb "Immuno-Oncology (I-O) is an innovative area of research that seeks to help the body's own immune system fight cancer. The goal is to address the unmet need for long-term survival in patients with advanced cancers."

Funding, Academic Prerequisites & Deadline

Funding Information

All students in the collaborative program will be considered for funding support in accordance with their respective home program’s funding policy. Students are also encouraged to apply for external scholarships such as CIHR, NSERC, or SSHRC studentships, or the ACCELERATE Ontario-Research Internship Program. Students involved in transdisciplinary cancer research projects may apply for funding through the Terry Fox Foundation Training Program in Transdisciplinary Cancer Research in partnership with CIHR 

Program Overview

View the Grad Maps for this department and all graduate degrees on the Career Services website

Palak PetalPalak Patel
Pathology & Molecular Medicine
Collaborative Cancer Research
photo of Melanie WalkerMelanie Walker
Making a niche for herself
Vikki Ho/Jess Cockburn 
Cancer Research
A transdisciplinary program.