Student in lab
Dr. William Muller (left) and then-graduate student Vi-Minh-Tri Su, BSc’05, MSc’12, examine the tissue section from a mammary tumor.

Supporting breakthroughs in the battle against cancer

Fifty years ago, researchers talked about finding a “cure” for cancer. Now, experts recognize that there is likely no single, silver bullet that will eradicate what is now understood to be a spectrum of devastating diseases. Instead, the fight against cancer is a long, slow battle involving collaborative efforts from some of the world’s finest scientific and medical minds. Thanks in large part to philanthropy, many of these top-notch investigators can be found right here at McGill.

The Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill has taken its place at the vanguard of the battle against Canada’s leading cause of premature death. Supported through a generous gift from Rosalind Goodman, BA’63, LLD’11, and Morris Goodman, LLD’11, the Centre’s research focuses on five fields: breast cancer; embryonic development and cancer; DNA damage, repair and cell death; metabolism and cancer; and stem cells and signaling.

The Centre recently made international headlines with groundbreaking breast cancer research that could one day eliminate the need for mammograms. Scientists, including the Centre’s Michael Hallett and Morag Park, are getting closer to developing a blood test that could detect breast cancer in its early stages and have been searching for a signature set of biomarkers – in this case proteins – that would accurately show evidence of cancer while minimizing false positives.

Hallet’s and Park’s research requires the kind of dedicated resources that the Goodmans’ generosity provides. The couple has also been vital in establishing fundraising events such as gala dinners to attract other key sources of donations for the Centre.

“Those gala evenings provide support for the Centre in terms of special project initiatives, funding our core facilities, money for supporting trainees, and infrastructure and equipment purchases,” says Dr. Peter Siegel, Interim Director.

Also helping the University get a leg up on the disease is the new Rossy Cancer Network (RCN), launched through a transformative gift from the Larry and Cookie Rossy Family Foundation. Through the RCN, McGill and its hospital partners will leverage their individual strengths, develop and deploy common tools and information technologies and collaborate to reduce mortality, increase survival rates, and enhance the experience of cancer patients in Montreal and across Quebec.

The RCN will set out a framework to develop a consistent, rigorous and accountable way to track medical improvements and to benchmark against international oncology leaders. And supporting its goals is the Philip Kuok Graduate Fellowships Fund, created by Chye Khoon Ho Kuok, BCom’73, in memory of his father Philip. The endowed fund will enable top-tier graduate students in the Faculty of Medicine to take part in the RCN and conduct cancer research.

“Patients are at the heart of our cancer care,” says Dr. David Eidelman, McGill Vice-Principal of Health Affairs and Dean of Medicine. “And we know the most reliable means of evaluating quality and consistency of care is by measuring patient outcomes and satisfaction, and targeting improvements. The Rossys have opened a pathway to support us in our efforts to be the very best. This is well within our reach.”