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Overview and Background

In Canada, 40% of women and 45% of men will develop cancer in their lifetime with one in four Canadians expected to die from the disease.(1) The importance of cancer as a health problem drives the need for expeditious transfer of knowledge from basic scientific discoveries to clinical applications and back again.

Cancer care has a long history as an integrated component of health care in London, Ontario. As early as the 1950s, leading edge research was happening in London with the delivery of the world’s first Cobalt-60 treatment and the discovery of the vinka alkaloids as chemotherapy agents.

Supporting Transformative Translational Cancer Research in London, Ontario Today, there are almost 200 clinicians, scientists and trainees at the London Health Sciences Centre’s London Regional Cancer Program, Western University at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and across multiple faculties, and the Lawson Health Research Institute providing cancer care and conducting innovative cancer research. London is recognized nationally and internationally for its successes in translational cancer research – successes achievable as a result of the integrated and interdisciplinary approach. With the availability of citywide state of the art facilities that enable technologic developments and accelerate the pace of discovery, the London cancer research community is positioned to advance translational research: the bi-directional movement of knowledge from basic discovery in the laboratory to the clinic in order to benefit patients with cancer.

The Centre for Translational Cancer Research was established in October 2010 to engage and support citywide translational cancer research by linking researchers from multiple disciplines with academic clinicians as an important first step to address the complexity of cancer as a disease. This partnership of Western University, London Health Sciences Centre’s London Regional Cancer Program, Lawson and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is intended to accelerate the translation of knowledge to clinical practice by providing an academic framework that spans existing academic units and institutions. The goal of the Centre for Translational Cancer Research (CTCR) is to support bi-directional interdisciplinary translational cancer research. Building on the citywide cancer research strengths and researcher links between scientists and clinicians, interdisciplinary teams with a translational focus have developed in the areas of Breast, Head and Neck, Ovarian and Prostate cancer.

These pioneering translational cancer research teams provide a platform of proven expertise that will enhance opportunities to establish new research capability aligned with cancer disease sites teams such as Colorectal and Lung. The Centre for Translational Cancer Research facilitates knowledge transfer between teams to pursue research pertaining to major treatment goals such as early detection, prevention, novel therapies or technology platforms with potential for patient application.

Translational cancer research teams of scientists, oncologists, surgeons, medical imagers, pathologists and research personnel are actively engaged in groundbreaking research. These teams draw on the unique expertise of all the individuals involved and speed the flow of knowledge between the clinic and laboratory in order to accelerate innovation in cancer care. Our vision of the future is to further expand translational research efforts, building on the successes of established translational research teams:

This vision also includes an increased focus on sharing research findings with regional partners, including family physicians and community hospitals, with the goal of ensuring that cancer patients throughout Southwestern Ontario receive highest quality of care regardless of where they live.

(1) Canadian Cancer Society’s Steering Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Society Statistics 2011. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society;2011.