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Vol 39  No 15
June 7, 2007


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Research chair focuses on cancer prevention and detection
by Deborah Inkpen


Dr. Ann Dorward

Dr. Ann Dorward has been named Memorial University’s Canada Research Chair in Molecular Signalling in Human Health and Disease. Dr. Dorward’s research emphasizes the value of the mouse as a model mammalian system to explore three major themes: cancer risk, cancer progression and new methods for early cancer detection.

The Cancer Institute of Canada estimated 37,000 men and 33,400 women died from cancer in 2006 and the number of cancer-related deaths is projected to increase as a larger proportion of the Canadian population reaches an advanced age.

Research in the field of primary cancer prevention and early detection is much needed to reduce cancer incidence and morbidity in Canada, while investigations to improve therapeutic options for people with advanced cancer should be focused on disease control, to improve survival rates overall.

Dr. Dorward’s research will focus on basic cancer biology and genetics, encompassing nutrition and pharmacological research in the areas of cancer prevention and therapy.

“Advances in cancer prevention, detection and therapy are of particular importance in the Atlantic Provinces, as regional cancer incidence and mortality rates on the east coast are elevated compared with the western provinces,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). “Dr. Dorward’s expertise is a very welcome addition to our institution as well as our province.”

“Calculating one person’s risk for the development of cancer is not a simple equation, being influenced by both their genes and their environmental exposures over a lifetime,” said Dr. Dorward. “Studying mouse models of human cancers help us determine which genes and which exposures are most important for the risk of developing specific cancers.”

Model systems also provide the opportunity for investigating the unique characteristics of cancer that are suitable for drug targeting or imaging. Dr. Dorward’s efforts support the current need for early cancer detection strategies and improved therapies for people who have already developed cancer.

The Canada Research Chairs program was established by the Government of Canada to enable Canadian universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence. In its 2000 budget, the federal government provided $900 million to support the establishment of 2,000 Canada Research Chairs in universities across the country.

The program is designed to enable Canadian universities to create outstanding research opportunities that will attract researchers with international reputations. For more information on the Canada Research Chair Program, please see www.chairs.gc.ca.

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