Your Impact in Quebec
Message from Myer Bick, President and CEO of Jewish General Hospital Foundation
On behalf of the Jewish General Hospital and the Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, I would like to personally thank you for supporting this outstanding event, previously known as the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. Indeed, it is through your support of our dedicated walkers and crew that we have been able to raise more than $45 million over the past 7 years.
Some of the work that we have been doing with these funds includes:
- Supporting the creation of a Breast Tumour Registry
- Supporting the Translational Radiation Oncology Laboratory
- Recruiting internationally renowned clinician researchers that specialise in cancer genetics
- Discovering a link between the PALB2 gene and breast cancer
- Discovering how a specific molecule helps cancer cells repair themselves after treatment
- Laying the ground work for development of a blood test to detect breast cancer
- Personalizing therapies using blood biomarkers
- Studying the tumour microenvironment
For more information about these projects, select here
- Purchasing specialized equipment such as a confocal spinning disk microscope, a Ventana Discovery staining platform and a flow cytometry unit that allow researchers to further their studies
For more information about this equipment, select here
However, there remains much to do and we still need your support. The statistics speak for themselves; one in seven Canadian women will be diagnosed with a women’s cancer during her lifetime. These women are our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends and we want to ensure that the best care is being developed for them so that they will have the best possible chance of a positive outcome. The physicians and researchers at the JGH are committed to continuing this work, but they cannot do it alone.
That is why is it critical that we all continue to support this important event: the Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers. Our support may take the form of donating to a friend or colleague; working as a volunteer or Crew Member on the event or even walking the 30km, 1-day event or the 60km, 2-day distance.
I have participated in each of the past 7 Weekends and can attest to the amazing experience of visiting the varied neighbourhoods of our fair city on foot; of laughing and crying with friends and perfect strangers; and to the feeling of personal accomplishment that comes with crossing that finish line each year. I am registered again for the 2012 edition and I invite you, if you have never had the opportunity to walk with us, to join me and thousands of other Montrealers as we walk together to bring an end to all women’s cancers.
President and CEO
Jewish General Hospital Foundation
What We Have Accomplished
Did You Know?
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of The Weekend participants, the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) has accomplished the following:
- The recruitment of Dr. Celia Greenwood, a PhD in biostatistics from Toronto, and winner of the 2010 Weekend to End Breast Cancer Distinguished Scientist Award..
- JGH built and equipped the Translational Radiation Oncology Laboratory as well as two new state-of-the-art laboratories in the Segal Cancer Centre, known as the WEBC Laboratories.
The JGH is funding innovative research studies such as:
- Ribavirin as a breast cancer therapeutic.
- Growth suppression of breast cancer cells by PARG inhibitors.
- Fast-tracking genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 in selected Montreal populations.
- Altered Salivary Redox Homeostasis in Patients with Breast Cancer: A case-control study.
- Contribution of the ShcA isoforms during mammary tumorigenesis.
- Project: A journey to intra-operative radiation for patients with breast cancer.
- The Function of Phosphorylated Stas1 in erb2 Breast Cancer.
- The role of H2Az lysine methylation by SETD6 in estrogen-dependent transcription and breast cancer.
- The role of H2Az lysine methylation by SETD6 in estrogen-dependent transcription and breast cancer.
- How to measure the impact of copy number aberrations in ovarian cancer.
- Looking at gene signatures of breast cancer to identify those at highest risk of developing brain metastasis of breast cancer.
- Identifying blood “biomarkers” that will identify which patients are most likely to respond to a particular therapy, to avoid giving an ineffective and potentially toxic treatment. This will allow us to provide more customized treatments.
- Research aimed at identifying novel therapies that specifically target the cancer.
In addition, the JGH:
- Established the first hospital-based program in lymphedema care and research in Quebec.
- Built a specialized software system, that will be used across Montreal and is the first of its kind in Quebec, for mapping heredity cancers in families.
- Supports students, young research scientists and post-doctoral fellows who are the most promising breast cancer researchers of the future.
- Is involved in a research program focusing on survivorship and wellness in women recovering from breast cancer.
- Is making innovations in radiation therapy that target tumours, avoid toxicity and shorten treatment duration.
- Supports highly innovative research ideas (e.g. Micro-genetics and other new concepts).
- Recruited an additional nurse navigator, a specialised nurse who supports and coordinates care for breast cancer patients and their families, helping them navigate through the complex health care system and setting the standard for the rest of Quebec.
- Is undertaking projects to evaluate the best models of nursing roles for breast cancer at all stages of care.
About Segal Cancer Centre
Net proceeds from Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women's Cancers benefit the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital, an international leader in the fight against cancer and a McGill University teaching hospital. The hospital is committed to research, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer. Funds raised will be primarily directed to breast cancer research at the Jewish General Hospital, moving us a step closer to the end of the disease.
Overview of the Segal Cancer Centre
The Segal Cancer Centre aims to provide the best quality of care to cancer patients throughout the course of their illness, with the ultimate goal of improving, prolonging and saving lives. As a comprehensive cancer centre, we provide a wide range of services including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, pain and symptom management, palliative care and psychosocial support. The cancer care team is comprised of individuals from different disciplines and areas of expertise, and their close physical proximity has facilitated the sharing of information and ideas which ultimately benefits the patients and their families. Moreover, as part of the Jewish General Hospital, the cancer care team can tap into the services and expertise provided by other areas of the hospital.Patient care is also well-served by the administrative model used at the Segal Cancer Centre, namely the very strong and effective nurse-physician partnered management model which co-directs the Centre and which guides the various interdisciplinary teams providing cancer care. The cancer care nurses are on the front lines providing medical care, support and guidance to patients.
Cancer research is an integral part of the Centre with the basic/translational research laboratories physically integrated with the clinical facility. Many of the clinician scientists and basic researchers conduct laboratory and clinical research studies aimed at better understanding the biology of the disease, improving detection and diagnosis, developing new cancer therapies, and better strategies for pain and symptom management, and improving methods to provide for the psychosocial needs of patients and their families. With basic/translational research, clinical research and clinical care so closely intertwined, the Centre strives to increase the rate of clinical research results going from “bench to bedside”.
The Segal Cancer Centre has close ties with the McGill Department of Oncology and other Departments and Divisions within the McGill Faculty of Medicine, and plays an active role in the teaching and training of students. In addition, the Centre has several education initiatives as part of its commitment to the continuing professional education of its staff.
The Centre is always changing and evolving as new knowledge and new methodologies encourage new services and programs and improvements to existing ones. We encourage you to visit the Centre’s website to learn more and check back from time to time as we update the information.
Funds raised from events such as the Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers are of critical importance. They help to fund research, to procure the latest and most advanced equipment and to recruit the best people to work on our team.
We thank you for your dedication to this event.
Gerald Batist, MD
Segal Cancer Centre
Dr. Mark Basik
Multitasking in the fight against breast cancer
Dr. Mark Basik, a clinician, surgeon and researcher at the Segal Cancer Centre, certainly has his plate full. His dedication to the eradication of breast cancer sees him and his colleagues focusing on 3 main areas of interest.
Firstly, he is doing work on analyzing blood samples from cancer patients , taking them before surgery and comparing it with blood taken after their surgery, when the tumor has been removed, looking for a signature for the presence of cancer. This is laying the groundwork for the potential development of a blood test to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage.
One of the results of this work was the discovery of a blood biomarker that was found in patients who subsequently benefited from a drug that had fallen out of favour in treating cancer. This work is in the validation phase but looks promising and is a good example of the new trend toward personalising medicine.
A second area of Weekend-funded study for Dr. Basik is the tumour microenvironment. He is investigating how the cells that surround a tumour impact that tumours survival. In understanding this system, there is the possibility of discovery of new therapeutic targets for new or existing drugs.
Finally, Dr. Basik most recent work is looking at resistant tumours. In a 3-year, Quebec-wide study, tumours will be biopsied both before and after chemotherapy treatments and the team is hoping to explain why tumours are or become resistant.
Dr. Basik’s important work in breast cancer still needs your support.
Dr. Celia Greenwood
Looking for patterns
Dr. Greenwood is the most recent winner of the Weekend to End Breast Cancer Distinguished Scientist award and she comes to the JGH from the Hospital for Sick Children and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in Toronto. She is a statistician with research interests in methodology for the analysis of genetic and genomic data. Her methodological work spans family studies looking for patterns of inheritance of disease-causing genes, case-control studies looking for associations between anonymous markers and disease status, gene expression studies examining differences between patient groups or tissues, and estimation of copy number variation in the genome.
She led the statistical analysis team in a genome-wide association study of colorectal cancer, where a new locus was identified conferring increased risk. In the context of that study, the team proposed and used a novel stratified method for assessing false discovery rates, and developed a computationally-efficient method for empirically estimating large numbers of p-values for haplotype-disease associations.
Currently, she is collaborating with researchers at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), and the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) on analysis methods for copy number variation in ovarian and breast cancer tumours. In ovarian cancer, the goal is to find the best approach for identification of regions of the genome that are commonly altered in particular tumour pathology subtypes. The methods will help in finding genes that are likely to be driving tumour progression.
Dr. Raquel Aloyz, Ph.D.
Following the bad cells to understand how to kill them better
Raquel Aloyz is a research scientist with a keen interest in understanding the mechanisms involved in the fundamental processes leading to cytotoxicity and death of cancer cells to chemotherapy. One of the key problems of chemoterapy is resistance developed by cancer cells. Dr Aloyz is exploring the alterations leading to resistant to anticancer agents which are the result of changes in networks rather than in single pathways. Her Weekend funded work is not focused on a single piece but aims to have a larger view of this extremely complicated process.
In the past, her Weekend funded work has focused on a crucial molecule called Xrcc3 which is involved in repairing DNA damage in cells. She showed that cancer cells need Xrcc3 to repair the damage produced by chemotherapeutic agents and to survive. In a follow-up, Weekend funded study she recently discovered that this molecule is involved, not only in facilitating DNA repair and survival to chemotherapeutic agents but also is involved in the basic process giving rise to the malignancy.
The next step of this project will be to validate these findings in patients' samples utilizing the tumour bank in collaboration with Dr Mark Basik. Another important objective is to find better combinations of chemotherapeutic agents that will kill better breast cancer cells expressing higher levels of Xrcc3.
Dr. Aloyz’s important work to understand drug resistance in human breast cancer cells still needs your support.
Meet Nancy Drummond N, MSc
Pivot Nurse for Gynecologic Oncology and Clinical Nurse Specialist
A pivot nurse (or nurse navigator) is with the patient from the moment that they are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer. She is available to support the patient and their family throughout the entire trajectory of care.
Nancy works in close partnership with other nurses and professionals of the interdisciplinary team to help the patient and their family meet the patient’s needs. She also works to facilitate an open communication with the team to ensure continuity of care. She is available for on site and phone consultations to assess the patient’s needs (biological and psychosocial); teach them about their disease, investigations, and treatments; and guide them in each step of the process. Nancy works to teach patients about symptom management and can refer them to other professionals or resources as needed.
Dr. Walter H. Gotlieb
Walter H. Gotlieb completed his medical degree summa cum laude at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in his native Belgium; where he went on to obtain board certification in Ob-Gyn.
Following two years at the National Institutes of Health, where he obtained the National Cancer Institute Award of Outstanding Performance, he performed a three year fellowship in Gyn-onc at UCLA. He was then recruited by the by Tel Aviv University, Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he co-founded and built up the Department of Gynaecologic-Oncology from 1994 to 2003.
In 2003, he was recruited by McGill University. He obtained license to practice in Europe, Israel, California, and Canada. In addition to his clinical responsibilities, he is involved in scientific research in ovarian cancer as a Project Director in the Lady Davis Research Institute and Senior Scientist of the Montreal Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Cancer. His efforts focus on translational research and novel therapeutic tools for ovarian cancer, and together with Dr. Lau they have been the pioneers of “robotic” surgery in gynaecologic cancer in Canada.
A recipient of twelve national and international awards in the area of cancer research, Dr. Gotlieb is well published with over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts in reputable international journals. Dr. Gotlieb presently sits on the executive council of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, and is the secretary treasurer of the Gynecologic Oncology Society of Canada. He is senior editor of the International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer. His prior involvement with medical societies includes the executive council of the Israel Gynecologic Oncologists, the executive council of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada, the SGO 2006 program committee, the International Committee of the SGO, and Vice President of the Association des Gynécologues Oncologues du Québec.
Dr. Gotlieb is presently Associate Professor and the Director of Surgical Oncology at McGill University.
He is the proud father of five boys, and his passion is to help people. He loves his work, his collaborators and his patients, and it shows. The first characteristic that Dr. Gotlieb looks for in teammates is to be “a mensch”, a decent person who loves his fellow humans. He feels blessed to work in a culture that encompasses compassion and high standards of care for all.
Weekend Funded Facilities
Providing the tools to support the research.
The Weekend is instrumental in supporting several Core Facilities at the Segal Cancer Centre. These facilities are vital tools used by researchers in the course of their studies.
Breast Tumour Registry
A Breast Tumour Registry was created with the aim of maintaining a complete and high quality database of information on cancer cases diagnosed and/or treated at the Segal Cancer Centre. The Tumour Registry is a powerful resource for cancer care teams and researchers who can ask the archivists to search the database according to specific criteria and use the statistics obtained to generate reports and studies. Currently, the registry documents all cases of breast, colon and hematological Cancers at the Segal Cancer Centre. The researchers look forward to eventually documenting all cases of cancer at the SCC and sharing the data with other hospitals across Quebec.
Translational Radiation Oncology Laboratory
The Jewish General Hospital Radiation Oncology Division is one of the few centres in Canada and is unique in Quebec that has a translational science laboratory within its facility. This lab is dedicated to radio-biology, molecular biology and tumour biology basic science research and permits direct links from bench to the clinic.
Flow Cytometry Facility
Flow cytometry allows fast and efficient analysis of entire cell populations through the detection of multiple physical and chemical characteristics of each cell in the population. Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) technology allows for the isolation and collection of cells of interest within a population. Flow cytometry applications include the study of the DNA content of cells, cell growth and death studies and multicolour protein labelling assays, as well as functional and stem cell analyses. The information collected can be useful in studying the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs on cancer cells.
Cell Imaging Facility
Using Weekend funds, the Segal Cancer Centre was able to purchase a Confocal Spinning Disk Microscope and establish the Cell Imaging Facility.
A spinning disk system allows high-resolution, multidimensional and live-cell fluorescent imaging. With this type of microscope, it becomes possible to track a tumor cell or a group of tumor cells in real time. The system can be used to identify a number of new drug targets for chemotherapies and sensitization to other cancer therapies and will have a major impact on research.