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New Cancer Research Institute launches in Halifax

Broadbased collaboration will yield solutions to cancer problem in Atlantic Canada

New Cancer Research Institute launches in Halifax

Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute to boost cancer research

Friday, April 3 – Cancer research in Atlantic Canada took an important step forward with the launch of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute in Halifax yesterday.

The new institute is named in honour of the late Beatrice Hunter of River John, Nova Scotia. Ten years ago, Mrs. Hunter bequeathed $12.5 million to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation for cancer research, in memory of her parents, Dr. Owen and Mrs. Pearle Cameron. Beatrice Hunter’s extraordinary gift was the catalyst that sparked a decade of rapid growth in local cancer research capacity.

“Beatrice Hunter would be proud to see the results of her gift so far,” says Alison Edwards, executive director of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. “In the past ten years, Dalhousie Medical School has attracted more than 15 top cancer investigators, dramatically increased its cancer research funding, and launched numerous high-impact cancer research initiatives. Mrs. Hunter would be delighted by her role in this progress, and even more so by the potential of the new cancer research institute in her name.”

The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute will provide a formal organizational structure to forge a common vision, strategic approach and coordinated action plan for cancer research in Atlantic Canada.

Spearheaded by the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute is a network of individual researchers and key academic, clinical and charitable organizations. These include: the Dalhousie faculties of Medicine, Health Professions and Computer Science; Cancer Care Nova Scotia, Capital Health, the IWK, the Cape Breton Cancer Centre and Atlantic Clinical Cancer Research Unit; the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society (Nova Scotia Division), Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation—Atlantic Region and the QEII Foundation.

“Cancer is such a complex disease. There are more than 300 types, and when a person has cancer, it affects every aspect of their life,” says Dr. Mark Bernstein, director of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and head of pediatric hematology-oncology at Dalhousie Medical School and the IWK Health Centre. “Solving the complex problems of cancer cannot be done in isolation. It requires the collective efforts of many people, in different fields, organizations and geographic areas.”

“Increasingly, national funding agencies are looking to fund broad-based research efforts with practical results,” says Dr. Gerry Johnston, chair of the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program and associate dean of research at Dalhousie Medical School. “The institute provides a powerful way for clinical, basic science, health services and population health researchers to work together on competitive research proposals that will make a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”

The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute has created an online forum for members to share knowledge and plan new research endeavours. The institute’s website (www.bhcri.ca) also offers a key entry point for people seeking training and careers in cancer research, and for those who want to support cancer research.

In addition to coordinating the Cancer Research Training Program for graduate students, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute is launching a monthly seminar series to bring researchers from all disciplines together to learn about each others’ findings and activities and to share ideas for putting research findings into practice for the benefit of patients.

“We have the highest cancer rates in the country here in Atlantic Canada and we need to work together to reduce this burden of disease,” says Dr. Bernstein. “The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute will help us build a thriving cancer research community with stronger ties across the region. The result will be better cancer care on the ground and, ultimately, better methods of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.”

For more information about the institute, visit www.bhcri.ca

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