March 29, 2018

Canada’s largest health research platform teams up with University of Toronto to accelerate cancer and chronic disease research

The leaders of the CPTP stand in front of servers storing the Project's data.

Pictured (left to right): Dr. John Mc Laughlin, Executive Director of CPTP; Cindy Morton, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.; and Dr. Philip Awadalla, National Scientific Director of CPTP.

Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) enters a new era of scientific activity under the leadership of newly appointed National Scientific Director, Dr. Philip Awadalla

March 29, 2018 (Toronto) – The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (“the Partnership”) today announced The University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health will be the new national scientific partner of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) – Canada’s national population cohort for precision health. This new scientific partner will enable a strong national scientific vision for CPTP and support leading-edge research on the possible causes of cancer and chronic diseases, leading to more made-in-Canada discoveries and breakthroughs. In addition, the University has announced that Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) will be its strategic partner to deliver the expertise and services needed to lead this key research platform.

One in 70 Canadians, 30-74 years of age, are currently participating in CPTP, making it Canada’s largest-ever health research platform. Over 300,000 participants have voluntarily provided health and biological information, which can be used by researchers to conduct long-term population health studies, looking at people’s health, lifestyle or health risks. As study participants age, some may develop diseases such as cancer or heart disease. Researchers can then look back at their health data to search for factors that are linked to disease onset. These types of studies have in the past successfully pinpointed links between genetics, environments, behavioural factors and health on cancer development, for example.

The University of Toronto was selected to lead the next phase of CPTP following a comprehensive search by the Partnership. The leadership team of Drs. Philip Awadalla as National Scientific Director and John McLaughlin as Executive Director brings extensive experience building large-scale research initiatives to benefit health across Canada and are committed to continuing the unprecedented pan-Canadian collaboration among CPTP’s regional cohorts.

There are currently five regional studies participating in CPTP, bringing together scientists from eight provinces: The BC Generations Project, Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, the Ontario Health Study, Quebec’s CARTaGENE project and the Atlantic PATH (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island). The Partnership is also supporting the formation of a sixth cohort in Manitoba to expand the depth of CPTP’s national dataset and biological assets. These studies will continue to operate and provide data to CPTP over the next decades. As a single harmonized platform, together the studies will support the science of precision health, maximizing the size of the platform to capture potentially rare mutations associated with rare diseases, or subtle risk factors associated with chronic diseases.

Bringing this new scientific leadership to CPTP will attract researchers of national and international calibre who will not only use the platform for research, but will actively engage in its future direction. Harmonization and centralization of pan-Canadian resources has already attracted more international collaboration, improving the competitiveness of Canadian research and providing opportunities for made-in-Canada discoveries. The platform’s wealth of information has been collected in such a way that researchers worldwide can apply CPTP data to their own work or combine CPTP data with other global cohorts, allowing them to delve into rare cancers and chronic diseases as well.

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health’s strong track record of world-class public health and health services research, education and service combined with its impressive faculty with extensive experience leading large-scale studies and extensive research networks make it a natural home for CPTP. Together with OICR it will deliver on CPTP’s shared scientific vision to improve health in Canada and globally.

OICR has been a key partner and contributor to CPTP since 2009 and is home to the Ontario Health Study. OICR will continue to host the national dataset in a safe and secure environment. Several host institutions provide financial or in-kind support, including collecting and storing bio-samples, such as: BC Cancer Agency, Alberta Health Services, Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine and Dalhousie University.

CPTP has been the Partnership’s single largest investment and has been a cornerstone of the organization’s work for the past 10 years. The Partnership is committed to ensuring CPTP’s full potential is realized and will continue to provide funding as well as the supportive leadership needed to ensure a smooth transition to the University of Toronto and the ongoing impact of CPTP. At the end of the transition phase, the University of will assume all operational and scientific responsibility and leadership for CPTP.

Quotes

“I am pleased to congratulate the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health on its new role as national host of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project. Our Government is committed to supporting projects and partnerships that will help to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses so that Canadians can live healthy lives,” said The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health.

“The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project is a world class research platform that will grow in value over time and impact the health and longevity of millions of Canadians,” said Cindy Morton, CEO of the Partnership. “This new partnership with the University of Toronto and OICR is a significant milestone in CPTP’s evolution and will enable the best future for the platform, accelerate research and most importantly, honour the commitment of the 300,000 participants who volunteered to share information about their health, lifestyle, environment and behaviour to help unlock the mysteries of cancer and other diseases.”

“The CPTP enables precision health research because it is a living population laboratory, “ said Philip Awadalla, National Scientific Director of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, Professor of Population and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Director of Computational Biology, OICR. “By ‘deeply characterizing’ and following the health of Canadians, we can develop the tools that slow or prevent disease evolution in an individual. The future of this program is reliant on research and discovery by the research community and the continued participation of Canadians to unlock the genetic and environmental factors associated with the development of disease.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to lead this major program into its next phase as Canada’s premier health research initiative, in partnership with many contributors across Canada,” said John McLaughlin, who is also Chief Science Officer at Public Health Ontario, and Professor of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “While benefiting from the University’s massive research capacity and range of expertise, we will work collaboratively with our many partners to heighten scientific outputs and impacts, enrich the platform with new data linkages, and work with researchers across the nation who share our vision of how health and health systems can be improved for Canadians.”

More information on CPTP and its partners, the data and how the platform can be accessed is available at www.partnershipfortomorrow.ca.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Nick Williams
Communications Officer, Media Relations
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
416-915-9222, x5799 (office); 647-388-9647 (mobile)
nick.williams@partnershipagainstcancer.ca

Nicole Bodnar
Director of Communications
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
416-946-7521
nicole.bodnar@utoronto.ca

Christopher Needles
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
416-673-8505
christopher.needles@oicr.on.ca

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

As the steward of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, the Partnership works with partners to reduce the burden of cancer on Canadians. Our partner network – cancer agencies, health system leaders and experts, and people affected by cancer – brings a wide variety of expertise to every aspect of our work. After 10 years of collaboration, we are accelerating work that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the cancer control system, aligning shared priorities and mobilizing positive change across the cancer continuum. From 2017-2022, our work is organized under five themes in our Strategic Plan: quality, equity, seamless patient experience, maximize data impact, sustainable system. The Partnership continues to support the work of the collective cancer community in achieving our shared 30-year goals: a future in which fewer people get cancer, fewer die from cancer and those living with the disease have a better quality of life. The Partnership was created by the federal government in 2006 to move the Strategy into action and receives ongoing funding from Health Canada to continue leading the Strategy with partners from across Canada.  Visit www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca.

About the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project

The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) is Canada’s largest population health research platform. It contains a wealth of data from more than 300,000 Canadians aged 30-74 who have volunteered to share information about their health, lifestyle, environment and behaviour. Nearly half of participants have also provided a biological sample. CPTP aims to create a legacy that will benefit both current and future generations by strengthening population research in Canada to unlock the answers to why some people develop cancer and chronic diseases while others do not.

About the Dalla Lana School of Public Health

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health is a Faculty of the University of Toronto that originated as one of the Schools of Hygiene begun by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1927. The School went through a dramatic renaissance after the 2003 SARS crisis and it is now the largest public health school in Canada, with more than 850 faculty, 1,000 students, and research and training partnerships with institutions throughout Toronto and the world. With $34.4 million in research funding per year, the School supports discovery in global health, tobacco impacts on health, occupational disease and disability, air pollution, inner city and Indigenous health, among many other areas. For more information, visit the website http://www.dlsph.utoronto.ca/

About the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is a collaborative, not-for-profit research institute focused on accelerating the translation of new cancer research discoveries to patients around the world while maximizing the economic benefit of this research for the people of Ontario. Funding for OICR is provided by the Government of Ontario.