December 10, 2018

A holiday message from the President and Scientific Director

As we approach the holidays, I want to wish you all the best of the season. The remarkable achievements of OICR and the cancer research community over the last year would not have been possible without your dedication, support and collaborative spirit. Together we are continuing to make OICR a huge success with tangible impacts on the lives of cancer patients across the province.

Earlier this year I returned home to Ontario to begin my new position to lead OICR after 15 years in the U.S.. While I was aware of Ontario’s great strengths in cancer research, coming back in a leadership capacity has opened my eyes even more to the immense talent and world-leading cancer research happening right here at home.

This year we have been able to make great strides on multiple fronts in the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. New discoveries on novel mechanisms driving cancer growth have provided new targets for therapies that are improving the lives of cancer patients and their families. This is also creating significant benefits for Ontario’s society and economy. For this, Ontarians can be thankful and proud.

Some highlights, among OICR’s many achievements this year, include the success of our Translational Research Initiatives in major cancers of unmet medical need linking basic scientists and clinicians together to develop new precision medicine tools. We have continued major initiatives like our Collaborative Research Resources program as well as the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network and the Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board, which are supporting and enabling cutting-edge clinical trials for patients.

This year marked an unprecedented interest in the OICR-Cancer Care Ontario Health Services Research Network, with a record number of letters-of-intent submitted for our current grant program. OICR’s Adaptive Oncology Program has made outstanding contributions in cancer genomics on multiple fronts, helping guide physicians in better managing early-stage cancer for improved patient outcomes and quality of life.

One notable accomplishment made with our international partners was the completion of an analysis of more than 20,000 tumours comprehensively characterizing most known classes of genetic changes that over time lead to cancer. This work is critical in our efforts to develop new tools for cancer prevention and early detection. OICR has continued to lead the InternationalCancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). Together, we are now moving ahead with an even more ambitious project with our international partners to sequence 100,000 patient tumours, linking this to clinical databases in the next phase of ICGC called Accelerated Research in Genomics and Oncology (ICGC ARGO).

This year also saw the continued implementation of Ontario’s first multi-center genomic medicine program called OCTANE that is establishing standards to incorporate clinical-grade genetic sequencing of tumours to identify better treatment paradigms for our patients. Lastly, we cannot forget the excitement and growing success that has been generated byOICR’s Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline, which is supporting the discovery and development of novel first-in-class drugs. Working with FACIT, our commercialization partner, the CTIP program and OICR’s Drug Discovery Group, we continue to make significant strides towards bringing novel medicines into the clinic for our patients. FACIT’s investments in promising cancer innovations are beginning to reap tangible economic benefits for the province of Ontario.

It is important to recognize that these advances have come about through our strong partnerships with Ontario’s cancer centres and other collaborators in the province. OICR’s success is also being driven by our joint efforts with like-minded organizations around the world. This cooperation has advanced our shared goal of reducing the burden of cancer.

Again, I would like to thank everyone in the OICR family: our scientific and support staff, funded investigators, and research collaborators across Ontario, Canada, and the world for the successes of the past year. I also thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and the Government of Ontario for their continued support.  I wish you all a safe and happy holiday and a happy new year. I hope that you enjoy a well-deserved break with your family and friends. I look forward to working with all of you to continue our important work in 2019.

Happy holidays everyone and a happy new year!

Dr. Laszlo Radvanyi

President and Scientific Director