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  • Terry Fox International Pediatric Cancer Award

    by TFRI Admin | Apr 21, 2016
    Are you a pediatric cancer researcher from a developing country, currently training in Canada? If so, you are are invited to apply for a Terry Fox International Pediatric Cancer Award. This is a new research award, made possible with funds from international Terry Fox runs. Deadline for applications: June 1, 2016. See the competition page for more information.
  • Rolland (Rolly) Murray Fox: 1935-2016

    by TFRI Admin | Mar 15, 2016

    Rolly Fox

    Rolland (Rolly) Murray Fox was born March 22, 1935 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Rolly was the third of nine children born to Rodney Fox and Bertha (Shale) Fox.  The early years were difficult financially for the large Fox family resulting in Rolly, at the youthful age of 9, calling Saint Michael and All Angels Church his home for 2 years.

    He would get a taste of the west coast when he attended a cadet camp in Abbotsford, B.C. Rolly would meet Betty Lou Wark on Winnipeg’s busiest and coldest intersection, Portage and Main, and they would marry in 1956. The following year their first child Fred was born, Terry would arrive in 1958, Darrell would follow 4 years later and finally Judith, the daughter Betty wanted, completed the Fox family in 1965.  Rolly would begin a 36 year career with CN Rail in 1954.   Working outside in the harsh Manitoba winters prompted Rolly to consider raising his family in a warmer climate. The Fox family would make the move to Surrey, B.C. in 1966 where they rented a house. With the move Rolly would lose 12 years seniority at CN and would have to start fresh in his new role as switchman on Vancouver’s north shore. 

    In 1968 they would purchase 3337 Morrill St in Port Coquitlam which would be the family home for the next 16 years.   Rolly and Betty insisted on good behaviour, good manners, that their children should respect their elders and to speak only when spoken to.  Rolly was a competitor, he despised losing, whether it was a simple card game or rough wrestling in the living room – he was determined to win at all costs a trait successfully passed on to his children.  In early 1977 son Terry would be diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  Rolly was devastated and bitter thinking that life had delivered an unfair and cruel turn – Rolly would say he wished he could change places with his son and he meant it. It is well known that Betty reacted negatively when Terry delivered the news that he was going to run across the country – knowing the will of his son Rolly simply said “when?”.

    When Terry died in 1981, Rolly and Betty were forced into roles neither were expecting or educated for but they had an endless passion for their son and inherently understood his values and vision.  Betty was the public figure sharing Terry’s story – Rolly was the pillar of strength and support who was always close behind.  He had a serious side but place him in front of a room full of friends and family and get ready to be entertained by an unscripted performance.   He would evolve over the years from someone who was scrupulous with his money to a man who wanted to give to others regardless of the financial implications. 

    Loneliness arrived in Rolly’s life with the passing of his wife Betty in 2011 after 54 years of marriage. Rolly went almost overnight from a homebody to a man never at home. He would meet Janet Shields during this time who was also experiencing loss with the passing of her husband. They would marry in the spring of 2013 – there was no denying Rolly’s happiness the last few years.

    Rolly was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4, in January.  He was not devastated or bitter, accepted it quickly, fulfilling a promise to Terry of being strong and positive. It may have been his plan to give those around him these last few weeks a legion of memories to last a lifetime.

    Rolly is survived by his lovely wife Janet, three children Fred(Theresa), Darrell(Bonnie), and Judith, step children Gary, Stephen and Joanne, nine grandchildren, Terrance(Melissa), Kirsten, Erin(Matthew), Jessica, Sarah, DJ, Tianna, Alexandra, and Connor, brothers, Rod, Terry and Doug, sisters, Nancy, Barbara and Jeanine.

    A “Farewell Party” will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, March 19th at Terry Fox Theatre 1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam. Please email your interest in attending the service to rollyfoxservice@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to The Terry Fox Foundation Online at: terryfox.org. Mail to: The Terry Fox Foundation, #150-8960 University Street, Port Coquitlam, V5A 4Y6: Call 1-888-836-9786.

  • New Investigator hopes oxygen-enhanced cancer tumours will improve treatment outcomes

    by TFRI Admin | Feb 10, 2016


    TFRI investigator hopes oxygen-enhanced cancer tumours will increase effectiveness of radiation for pancreatic and other cancers.

    While survival rates for many cancers have improved over the last decade, cure rates for some forms of the disease – such as pancreatic cancer – remain as low as just two to three per cent.

    “The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is abysmal,” says Dr. Ralph DaCosta, a molecular imaging scientist, noting that around 5,000 Canadians are affected by the disease each year. “One of the main reasons that I picked this particular cancer to study was because I thought we could bring a real level of innovation and new knowledge to understanding this complex tumor microenvironment.”

    He’ll use a $450,000 New Investigator award from TFRI to try to find new and innovative ways to study the complex tumor microenvironment to develop new treatment strategies for pancreatic cancer and prevent deadly tumour recurrences in patients from his laboratory at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN.

    Radiation and chemotherapy can be a very effective treatment for many cancers, but are often unsuccessful in treating pancreatic cancer. DaCosta’s research team has learned that advanced pancreatic tumours are often very “hypoxic”. This means they are low in oxygen, which decreases the efficacy of treatment, and increases the likelihood tumours will grow and spread aggressively.

    Further, the team discovered in animal models of pancreatic cancer that high-dose radiation therapy can actually increase tumour hypoxia, change the invasive behaviour of tumour cells, and modify the tumour microvasculature and microenvironment. The result? It’s harder to kill cancer cells.

    But there’s hope: Dr. DaCosta and collaborators in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy (University of Toronto) have developed a new injectable nanoparticle formulation comprised of manganese dioxide that generates oxygen in vivo, and makes a tumour less hypoxic. When used in conjunction with traditional radiation, early results suggest cancer cells can be killed more easily using a much lower treatment dosage.

    “The clinical impact is pretty profound if we can get this right. If you give a patient the nanoparticles, and make the tumour more oxygenated, you could be just as effective at killing tumour cells with a much lower radiation dose, and also reduce unwanted toxicity of the therapy to the patient,” Dr. DaCosta explained.

    Drs. Bradley Wouters and Rob Bristow, co-principal investigators of TFRI’s Hypoxia Program and senior scientists at UHN, will mentor Dr. DaCosta for the duration of the three-year award.

    “The work [he is] doing in pancreatic cancer…will bring new approaches to understanding the hypoxic environments of other cancer types under investigation in this program including cervix, head and neck, and prostate,” said Dr. Wouters. “I look forward to [his] future contributions to our Institute’s scientific success.”

    DaCosta says he was so excited to win the TFRI NI award he almost fell out of his chair.

    “It’s just great all-around and we’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” he said. “And the best part is if we can get this to work in the pancreas, we could apply the same methodology to other solid tumours.”

    To learn more about TFRI’s Program Project Grant in Research Pipeline for Hypoxia-Directed Precision Cancer Medicine visit: Our Work section.

    Project Title: Investigating radiation responses of pancreatic tumours, their vasculature and microenvironment using in vivo imaging to identify new treatment strategies
    Award: $450,000
    Mentoring Program: The Terry Fox New Frontiers Program Project Grant in Research Pipeline for Hypoxia-Directed Precision Cancer Medicine
    Mentors/PIs: Drs. Bradley Wouters and Robert Bristow

  • Blue Light Shines Brightly as a Highly Useful Oral Cancer Surgery Tool

    by TFRI Admin | Jan 26, 2016


    Terry Fox-funded researchers find that fluorescence visualization may drastically reduce cancer recurrence by clearly differentiating cancer cells from healthy tissue.

    New findings from a study nearly a decade in the making suggest that use of fluorescence visualization (FV) during oral cancer surgery drastically improves the accuracy of the removal of cancerous tissue and the preservation of healthy tissue, significantly reducing recurrence rates of oral cancer. 

    “Approximately one-in-three patients who undergo surgery to remove cancerous oral lesions will experience a recurrence of the disease within three years,” says Dr. Catherine Poh, study lead author and principal investigator on the Terry Fox Translational Research project - Canadian Optically Guided Approach for Oral Lesions Surgical Trial (COOLS).

    “Use of FV technology is currently not standard for all oral cancer surgeries to help surgeons decide how and where to remove diseased tissue, so this is a new way to perform oral cancer surgery and look at how this disease spreads.”

    The retrospective case-control observational study, published recently inAmerican Medical Association Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, included patients registered at the Department of Oral Oncology within the British Columbia Cancer Agency from 2004 to 2009. The study sought to assess the efficacy of FV-guided surgery in reducing recurrence at the site of the cancerous region and improving overall survival.

    The FV technique uses a regular white light filtered so that only blue light shines through. When the blue light shines on normal tissue, the tissue appears bright green. However, cancerous tissue under FV is easy to identify because it appears dark.

    Currently, surgical removal of cancerous lesions in the mouth requires cutting an extra 10 mm around the lesion (or tumour) in the hopes of removing cancerous cells that are often spreading and hard-to-see with unaided eyes. However, the study showed that even with standard use of the additional 10 mm margin, one-in-three patients will still experience local recurrence of the cancer.

    “Not using FV technology means sometimes under-cutting the affected area, or over-cutting in a direction we don’t even need to.”

    “With FV technology we found that the extension of this disease is not uniformly around the cancerous area, so a 10-mm margin around the tumour site may not always work,” explains Dr. Poh, who is also an oral pathologist and associate professor in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia

    The study’s findings showed that use of FV during surgery to remove lesions significantly reduced the three-year recurrence of cancerous tissue in the affected oral region. For patients with cancerous lesions, FV-guided therapy reduced their recurrence rate from 40 per cent to 6.5 per cent. Recurrence among patients with pre-invasive lesions dropped from 39 per cent to 9 per cent.

    According to Dr. Poh, Vancouver Coastal Health-affiliated head and neck surgeons in B.C. have already changed their practice and standardized use of FV during oral cancer surgeries. 

    “If the COOLS trial is supportive, this will have a huge impact for clinical practice,” she says. “It means the technology should be used as part of routine practice to assist the surgeon in deciding the surgical margin, which will likely improve outcomes in terms of being able to catch local recurrence. And having only one surgery compared to two or three and can save a lot of money for the health care system as well.”

  • Call for Abstracts

    by TFRI Admin | Jan 13, 2016
    Are you a graduate student, postdoctoral trainee or clinical research fellow on a Terry Fox-funded project or program? TFRI invites you to compete for a travel award to attend our 7th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) to be held in Vancouver, BC from Thursday, May 12 to Saturday, May 14, 2015. For more information see www.tfri.ca/asm
  • 2015 Research Portfolio now online

    by TFRI Admin | Nov 30, 2015
    TFRI_Portfolio_2015_thumbA full list of Terry Fox-funded research programs can be found in our 2015 Terry Fox Cancer Research Portfolio. The portfolio includes a scientific summary for each program, a list of the Principal Investigators and key program publications.
  • Full house at 'Genomics and Cancer' Symposium

    by TFRI Admin | Nov 18, 2015

    Vancouver -- Around 350 people attended the Gairdner Foundation 'Genomics and Cancer' Symposium at UBC on 17 November. An international set of presenters shared their research and highlighted how genomics has moved their work forward. TFRI was pleased to support the event, with many Terry Fox-funded researchers and trainees in attendance.


    Speakers at the 2015 Gairdner Foundation symposium on 'Genomics and Cancer'

  • Save the date - TFRI Ontario Node Symposium

    by TFRI Admin | Nov 13, 2015
    The TFRI Ontario Node Research Symposium will take place on Thursday 10 December. Due to a high response, the symposium has been relocated to the Mount Sinai Hospital to accommodate a larger audience! For more information see the Ontario Node Research Symposium page.
  • Researchers turn out for Terry Fox Morning Run

    by TFRI Admin | Nov 09, 2015
    Montreal -- Cancer researchers attending this year's Canadian Cancer Research Conference in Montreal rose early for the Terry Fox Early Morning Run. Darrell Fox took part and gave a short talk before the group set off - reminding participants of Terry's early starts. 


  • Vacancy: Executive and Events Assistant

    by TFRI Admin | Oct 30, 2015
    TFRI is seeking an Executive and Events Assistant to join the TFRI headquarters team in Vancouver, BC. Deadline for applications is November 18, 2015. For more details and to apply, visit the careers page.
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