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TFRI funded researchers are making a difference in all areas of cancer research, punching well above their weight in Canada and around the world. Here we highlight some notable research advances by our teams.

  • In 2016 the World Health Organization adopted a new classification of brain tumours and the work by the TFRI PPG Killing the Hydra by Dr. Michael Taylor and colleagues in delineating the molecular subgroups for this disease (medulloblastoma) now forms the basis for the standard of care in many cancer centres
  • An MRI-based early detection protocol for Li-Fraumeni developed by Dr David Malkin’s team in Toronto is now practiced globally and is in the new NCCN guidelines
  • TFRI’s pan-Canadian lung study team led by Dr. Stephen Lam developed a predictive model for detecting lung cancer in early stages when the disease has a greater potential to be curable. Their early detection model could be considered for use in lung cancer screening programs in both Canada and around the world. Their model outperformed others as a superior tool for saving more lives in Canada and around the world.
  • Our oncolytic virus team based in Ottawa and led by Dr. John Bell launched two human clinical trials evaluating the maraba oncolytic virus platform
  • Dr. John Dick’s team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has found a way to predict if leukemia patients will respond to standard treatment or not with the development of a novel, 17-gene signature test from leukemia stem cells. His team has also discovered that there are two distinct cancer stem cell populations that can lead to relapse in AML.  
  • Terry Fox’s PROFYLE study is providing hope to children who are out of treatment options and the study has both saved lives and extended survival for patients enrolled. More than 100 patients from across the country are involved in the program which sequences each child’s tumour with the goal of identifying new treatment options.

Our First Decade of Achievements, 2007-2018


  • TFRI Launches in October
  • National Biomarker Workshop is held (leads to several funded studies)


  • Lung, Ovarian, Oral, Prostate Translational Programs Launch
  • TFRI’s mission expands to include discovery research on dissolution of National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC)
  • TFF co-invests in Strategic Research Training Program with Canadian Institute of Cancer Research


  • TFRI launches New Investigator Program; holds Biomarker Validation Workshop
  • TFRI holds public dialogues across Canada to build awareness of translational research and precision/personalized medicine


  • TFRI launches pediatric brain cancer study (MAGIC) with Genome Canada
  • TFRI partners with Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick for trainee programs


  • TFRI launches GBM and colorectal studies (C4) in partnership with others


  • Canada-Taiwan project launches in partnership with NSC in Taiwan
  • Lung Lesion Nodule Calculator is published by Lung Study
  • TFRI takes over administration of PPGs (from CIHR and CCS)


  • TFRI expands international peer review to PPG programs;
  • New TFRI web site launches


  • TFRI holds Annual Scientific Meeting in St. John’s;
  • Partnerships with RubanRose allowed TFRI to fund a record number of PPGs (4); and with FRQS and BCCR to fund 6 NIs
  • Institute begins work on Cancer Centres Network


  • Translational programs for pediatric cancer (PROFYLE) and immunotherapy (Immunotherapy Network) are launched
  • TFRI launches its Links newsletter to highlight scientific advances


  • TFRI celebrates its 10th Anniversary at ASM
  • TFRI launches BC-ON Cancer Centres pilot
  • Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network brand is created


  • TFRI launches translational program in pancreatic cancer (EPPIC)
  • TFRI launches Montreal Cancer Consortium (MCC) pilot