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The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation receives $5 million donation for bladder cancer from the Peter Gilgan Foundation
Stephanie Trussler, Luke Gilgan, Peter Gilgan and Mary Federau of the Peter Gilgan Foundation with Chairholder Dr. Girish Kulkarni
The generous donation to The Princess Margaret establishes Canada’s largest endowed Chair devoted entirely to bladder cancer research.

The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation is delighted to announce the establishment of the Peter Gilgan Chair in Bladder Cancer Research thanks to a generous $5 million gift from the Peter Gilgan Foundation.

Established in loving tribute to the late Paul Gilgan, the Peter Gilgan Chair in Bladder Cancer Research is Canada’s largest endowed Chair focused exclusively on bladder cancer research.

“Sadly, bladder cancer has a 60-70% recurrent rate and is the only cancer where mortality rates have been steadily increasing in Canada. This is because bladder cancer is often detected late and is severely underfunded compared to other cancers,” said Dr. Miyo Yamashita, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to the Peter Gilgan Foundation. This gift will fuel innovative research that will transform standards of care for bladder cancer patients in Canada and around the world.”

Considered the highest academic honour at a medical institution, the Chair will enable world-leading research that will reshape our understanding of the underlying causes of bladder cancer, thereby leading to more effective ways to detect and treat the disease. The inaugural holder of this prestigious Chair is respected surgical oncologist, Dr. Girish Kulkarni.

Dr. Kulkarni has been a member of The Princess Margaret team for more than 12 years. He is currently Head of the Division of Surgical Oncology and a surgeon-scientist affiliated with the Department of Surgery, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. He is also a professor in the Department of Surgery, as well as at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Education.

“I am honoured to be appointed as the inaugural Chairholder of the Peter Gilgan Chair in Bladder Cancer Research,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “Thanks to the generosity of the Peter Gilgan Foundation, we will have the opportunity to explore uncharted territories of bladder cancer research, bring new therapeutics to patients, and improve both survival rates and quality of life for people dealing with this disease.” Trained in epidemiology and clinical epidemiology, Dr. Kulkarni has dedicated his career to both the research and clinical components of bladder cancer, helping to create a national consortium of oncology researchers that examine quality of life and care for bladder cancer patients from diagnosis to end of life.

“As Chairholder of the Peter Gilgan Chair in Bladder Cancer Research, I want to create an environment where we embrace collaboration with scientists conducting basic research to identify new targets for therapies, new treatment strategies, and new ways of monitoring bladder cancer. There is also the opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to create sophisticated prediction tools related to bladder cancer cure and progression rates. Finally, this Chair will allow us to bring the concepts of bladder cancer treatment and research to a wider audience of students, graduate students, and fellow clinicians,” said Dr. Kulkarni.

In most major cancer centres, bladder cancer is often funded and studied alongside other urological cancers, including cancers of the kidney, prostate, and the male reproductive system. The Princess Margaret is home to top cancer scientists and clinicians who are dedicated to the analysis and treatment of bladder cancer specifically, which has led to several important “firsts” in bladder cancer research and treatment.

“Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Canada, affecting over 12,000 Canadians annually and requires a large and highly specialized multi-disciplinary team to deliver excellence in care,” said Dr. Keith Stewart, Vice-President, Cancer and Director, Princess Margaret Cancer Program, University Health Network. “This significant gift will help mobilize one of the world’s brightest cancer research teams at The Princess Margaret to find new innovative ways to treat this disease and deliver novel therapies with less toxicity and provide an exceptional patient experience.”

We are incredibly grateful to the Peter Gilgan Foundation for this visionary gift that will have a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of bladder cancer patients and their loved ones.