Building our Bench Strength

The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation launched a BILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE in April 2012 –a five-year initiative to raise the funds needed to realize the transformational promise of Personalized Cancer Medicine. Two years into the Challenge, thanks to our generous supporters and world-renowned scientists, $230 million has been donated or pledged and $225 million acquired through research grants. 
 
These funds are enabling leaders at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to recruit eminent scientists and physicians to our cancer centre to build our expertise in new areas like epigenetics and immune therapy, and attain additional ‘bench strength’ in key areas including pathology, biobanking, clinical genomics and computational biology.
 
“It’s a tremendous endorsement of our work and the reputation of our institution that so many world-leading scientists and clinician-scientists have re-located to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in the past several years, to continue their important research in areas critical to cancer medicine,” explains Dr. Ben Neel, Research Director.

Some of these new, world-class recruits include: 
 
EPIGENETICS
 
Dr. Daniel De Carvalho comes to Princess Margaret from the University of Southern California’s Medical School in Los Angeles, where he had his work recognized as one of the top 20 major advances in cancer research in 2012 by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
 
Dr. Housheng (Hansen) He joins Princess Margaret after recently completing postdoctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He has already led seminal work in the field of epigenetics, contributing to 22 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals.
 
Dr. Mathieu Lupien comes from Dartmouth Medical School where he was Director of the Quantitative Epigenomics Laboratory.
 
IMMUNE THERAPY
 
Dr. Marcus Butler, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is establishing an Immune Monitoring Lab where his team will develop specialized techniques to test and measure immune response in patients.
 
Dr. Naoto Hirano, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is studying and testing various ways to engineer and train T-cells (the workhorse of the immune system) to be more effective against cancer.
 
PATHOLOGY
 
Dr. Michael Roehrl is from Harvard Medical School. He is leading the Biospecimen Sciences Program which includes managing the very large tumor and tissue banks for Princess Margaret.
 

 
CLINICAL GENOMICS AND COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY
 
Last year, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre conducted 550 clinical trials–many involving the genomic sequencing of patient tumors. The amount of data generated by these studies is vast and the analysis of it can be tremendously complex. Crunching the numbers is a science in itself, and we welcome several new members to the team.
 
Dr. Benjamin Haibe-Kains is from l’Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montreal, and Dr. Michael Hoffman is from the University of Washington in Seattle.
 
Dr. Trevor Pugh is an expert in computational technologies.  He comes from the Broad Institute at Dana- Farber Cancer Institute, and will lead the Clinical Genomics Research Program.