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The Oncopole is proud to announce its participation in the Montreal Cancer Consortium (MCC), the second pilot project launched by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) aiming to form a pan-Canadian network of linked cancer centres.

The MCC will receive $6.5 million over the next two years from several organizations supporting the initiative, including the Oncopole. As the project catalyst, TFRI is providing $2 million.

“This partnership is the outcome of an important mobilization effort across different Montreal hospitals and research centers involved in the fight against cancer. We are proud to contribute $750,000 to the consortium creation that responds to the co-ordination needed to bring innovative solutions to patients,” explains Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine, executive director of Oncopole.

The researchers involved will pursue research projects focused on improving precision and personalized medicine strategies for the treatment of cancer patients.

The pilot project will consolidate existing research strengths in the field and forge new multi-center collaborations across research centres and research-intensive hospitals in Montreal focusing on immunotherapy treatments for melanoma and acute leukemia.

The MCC brings together many organizations: Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC), Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (CR-HMR), Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, Jewish General Hospital (JGH), Génome Québec Innovation Centre, McGill University, Université de Montréal and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).

Four main projects the MCC will undertake:

  • Project 1: Inter-institutional co-ordination and integration of tissue and clinical data collection from patients treated within the MCC – Co-leads: Drs. Morag Park (GCRC), Anne-Marie Mes-Masson (CHUM), Wilson Miller (JGH), Josée Hebert (HMR) Gerald Batiste (JGH), George Zogopoulos (MUHC)
  • Project 2: Develop a collaborative framework to perform cancer therapy-response integrative profiling – Co-leads: Drs. Ian Watson and Peter Seigel (GCRC), Rejean Lapointe, John Stagg, and Francis Rodier (CHUM)
  • Project 3: Development of novel-pre-clinical treatment strategies to improve immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy and to overcome resistance in melanoma – Co-leads: Drs. John Stagg (CHUM), Wilson Miller (JGH), Christopher Rudd (HMR) and Ian Watson (GCRC)
  • Project 4: Development of new combination therapeutic strategies in leukemia – Co-leads: Drs. Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Lambert Busque, Christopher Rudd (HMR); Sarit Assouline (JGH), Francois Mercier (JGH)

For more information, read the Terry Fox Research Institute press release 

Montreal, June 5, 2018 – The Oncopole is proud to announce, as part of its first EMC2competition, an investment of close to $12M to support seven oncology projects in Quebec. This investment is made possible thanks to an unprecedented collaboration with leading funders, notably the Cancer Research Society, the CQDM and IRICoR. Together, the partners managed to double the Oncopole’s initial budget, an initiative supported by Merck.

A first investment of $1.5M by the Cancer Research Society was announced in February. The CQDM brings $760,704 to co-fund a project through SynergiQc, its program aimed at stimulating industrial research in a university setting in the biopharmaceutical field. The CQDM’s contribution is made possible by the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation du gouvernement du Québec (MESI) through the PSVT 2c program. Finally, IRICoR is supporting two drug discovery projects with a $600,000 contribution.

“The EMC2 competition is an innovative and winning formula for discovering cancer treatments. Carrying out these seven promising projects will result in major breakthroughs in oncology, which will provide additional tools for healthcare professionals, and especially for patients and their family”, points out Gaétan Barrette, Minister of Health and Social Services.

The Oncopole’s EMC2 competition

The Oncopole’s EMC2 competition brings together the expertise and strengths from the Quebec oncology research community and fosters collaboration between disciplines and institutions. Through this initiative, the Oncopole and its partners accelerate the mobilization of Quebec’s key players in order to tackle the public health challenge that cancer represents.

“After one year in existence, we are delighted to announce this major investment that brings forward our mobilizing role, with respect to both the research teams and the funders. We would like to thank our financial partners and congratulate the seven winning teams, whose projects will result in breakthroughs for the benefit of patients,” said Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine, Executive Director of the Oncopole.

Seven projects benefiting from substantial support

Following a competitive process and a thorough assessment of the 36 applications by an independent international peer review committee, seven projects were selected for funding. The teams made up of 61 investigators from 12 Quebec institutions will benefit from considerable financial support to continue their cutting-edge oncology research work.

Developing innovative anti-leukemic vaccines (Claude Perreault, IRIC): The goal of this project is to discover antigens exclusively present on leukemic cells that can elicit a strong immune response.

“We are delighted to partner with the Oncopole to co-fund the Developing innovative anti-leukemic vaccines project, led by Professor Claude Perreault of the IRIC. This research project is based on a unique technology that will result, for the first time, in developing vaccines that specifically target tumors when treating leukemia” explains Diane Gosselin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CQDM.

Optimizing prostate cancer treatments using molecular imaging and targeted radioligand therapy [Brigitte Guérin (CRCHUS), Frédéric Pouliot (CRCHUQc), Jean-Mathieu Beauregard (CRCHUQc)]: This project is aimed at developing new medical imaging tools in order to visualize and better characterize the various metastatic prostate cancer cells and thus, provide patients with better treatment.

Developing new targeted therapies to improve survival of children suffering from leukemias. [Brian Wilhelm (IRIC), Frédéric Barabé (CHUL), Sonia Cellot (CHU Ste-Justine)]: This project consists of identifying new drugs to improve survival rates with respect to high fatality acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in children.

Exploiting the Achilles’ heel of ovarian cancers in order to develop effective treatments [Anne-Marie Mes-Masson (CRCHUM), Francis Rodier (CRCHUM), Jean-Yves Masson (CRCHUQc)]: The goal of this project is to improve the current therapies for ovarian cancer in order to increase survival and quality of life for women who are suffering from it.

“IRICoR is proud to participate in the EMC2 competition, a key initiative involving a common goal: to support Quebec’s innovative oncology projects. Six clinical studies have been initiated on the basis of early projects supported by IRICoR, since it was created 10 years ago. The EMC2 funding program represents a tremendous opportunity to feed the Quebec pipeline with cutting-edge therapeutic solutions” points out Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR.

Targeting cancer stem cells to fight leukemia relapses (Trang Hoang, IRIC):  Leukemic stem cells spared by the current treatment depend on their interactions with a niche for their survival, revealing a vulnerability that this team intends to exploit in order to develop new compounds that prevent relapses following treatment.

Overcoming drug resistance in poor outcome breast cancers [Morag Park (McGill), Michael Pollack (HGJ), Sylvie Mader (IRIC)]: The goal of this project is to develop approaches to target treatment-resistant tumors, or for which no treatment is currently available, and thus reduce mortality.

 Reducing the burden of cancer for patients and the healthcare system: Collaborative governance of the Quebec Cancer Network [Dominique Tremblay (CRHCLM), Nassera Touati (ENAP)]: The purpose of this project is to analyze how, why, by whom, for whom and under what conditions the network’s governance contributes to practices resulting in added-value effects for patients, health professionals and the overall system.

This major collaborative investment promises significant outcomes that will benefit patients in complementary areas such as drug development, optimizing medical devices and improving the organization of cancer care.

“The EMC2 competition is a great example of the possibilities for research collaboration, and we are proud to contribute to it thanks to the unwavering support of our donors. It is by joining the efforts of researchers that we will succeed in outsmarting cancer. And we are convinced that tangible benefits will result from these projects involving some of the best oncology investigators in Quebec” explains Max Fehlmann, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Research Society.

You have experiential knowledge to share as a patient?


Who are we?

The Oncopole was created in February 2017 thanks to an initial $15M investment from Merck Canada, in collaboration with the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS). In line with its mission to create a dynamic and innovative hub for research in Quebec for the benefit of people affected by cancer, the Oncopole recognizes the complementarity of expertise between health professional and patients. Patient-partners, acting as active collaborators, bring an added value with their experiential knowledge. Therefore, the Oncopole is seeking your expertise and engagement for its new Patient-Partner Committee!

What are the patient-partners’ main roles within the Oncopole?

The mandate of the Patient-Partner Committee will evolve over time, but its first mission will be to help identify funding priorities and research projects likely to have a positive impact on patients affected by cancer. Guidance and recognized training provided to the committee members will ensure they can actively contribute to the Oncopole’s activities.

Who are we looking for? We are looking for patient-partners with the following assets:

  • Ability to share personal experience as a patient or as a natural caregiver
  • Make a constructive contribution, by offering ideas and opinions reflecting the voice of patients, family members and friends
  • Ability to work as a team with peers and professionals
  • Good communication skills (tact and sensitivity)
  • Availability for 6 to 8 team meetings per year in Montréal and 1 to 2 hours of reading per month

What will your collaboration with the Oncopole bring you?

  • Significant contribution to Quebec’s health system
  • Sense of personal accomplishment and achievement
  • Financial compensation for your participation

If you wish to contribute to the important initiatives of the Oncopole as a member of our Patient-Partner Committee, we invite you to fill out the short form available here. The deadline to submit your application is June 26, 2018. The selected candidates will be interviewed at the beginning of July.

*If you have any questions, please contact Maxime Dumais (mdumais@oncopole.ca)

We look forward to meeting you soon!

Montreal, April 9, 2018 – The Oncopole proudly announces the support of three new partners to help fund its first competition, EMC2 (Results to be published in June). This competition objective is to fund federative research projects to build on Quebec’s expertise and strengths in the field of oncology.

From the outset, CQDM will provide up to 40% of the budget for projects jointly selected with Oncopole that respond to their SynergiQc program criteria, while IRICoR will support drug discovery projects within their investment criteria. For genomics-related projects, Génome Québec will likewise provide substantial financial support up to $2M.

These funds will be combined to $1.5M already committed by the Cancer Research Society last February, which brings the total envelope for the EMC2 competition up to $11M in grants. These significant contributions represent a decisive landmark where these leading organizations recognize the value of the unique model put forward by Oncopole.

With the creation of an attractive collaborative hub for researchers and funding organizations, Oncopole is achieving its goal of uniting key players in the field of oncology and fulfilling its mission to make Quebec a centre of excellence in the fight against cancer.

Montreal, March 20, 2018 – The Oncopole and IRICoR have joined forces to launch the Scholarship Competition – Entrepreneurship in Oncology (CEO), offering the next generation of scientists an opportunity to take part in the first cohort of the new Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Development Program.

This practical and immersive program was launched by Montréal InVivo, Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Concordia University’s John Molson Executive Centre, in collaboration with IRICoR, for the purpose of developing entrepreneurial skills in life sciences. Those taking part in the program will benefit from over 150 hours of management training to enhance their knowledge of innovative company development strategies.

IRICoR and the Oncopole are proud to announce the awarding of 8 scholarships to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the field of oncology research: Nezahat Ozlem Arat (IRIC/UdeM); Simon Beaudoin (USherbrooke); Milad Dagher (McGillU); Jacqueline Ha (Jewish General Hospital, McGillU); Christina Mastromonaco (MUHC, McGillU); Laura Simon (IRIC/UdeM); Mona Wu (Jewish General Hospital, McGillU); and Yu Zhan (CRCHUM).

Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR, wishes to congratulate the winners and is delighted that her organization will tangibly contribute to training the next generation of scientists. “Developing entrepreneurial skills is at the very heart of our sector’s future. There is no doubt in my mind that the winners of these first scholarships will make the most of the program and that they will also mutually benefit from their already rich expertise”.

Mrs. Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine, Executive Director of the Oncopole, would like to point out “the excellence and diversity of the backgrounds of the applications selected” and is convinced “that it will be a very dynamic cohort”.

About the Oncopole

The Oncopole is a Quebec hub for research, development and investment to accelerate the fight against cancer. Created in February of 2017, it is the product of a unique co-creation process led by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) and made possible by an initial $15M investment from Merck Canada. The Oncopole’s mission is to act as a catalyst leveraging actions made by the key players in Quebec’s oncology and innovation research ecosystem. As a result, it aims to position the province as a leader in the field. Its priorities of action, namely research, entrepreneurship, commercialization and integration of innovation, as well as clinical relevance, are orchestrated in order to foster the mobilization of stakeholders, the discovery of innovative approaches to fight cancer and, ultimately, a positive impact for the benefit of patients. For more information, go to: oncopole.ca

About IRICoR (Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research)

As Université de Montréal’s drug discovery and project maturation cluster, IRICoR is a not-for-profit organization based at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), with the mandate to accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies in cancer, immunotherapy and related fields. Since its creation in 2008, IRICoR successfully invests in and supports cutting-edge projects with disruptive potential to rapidly translate innovation into patient-accessible therapies, through either co-development partnerships with industry or company creation. IRICoR seamlessly integrates business-related expertise with industry-level drug discovery in a world-renowned research institute, providing academics with access to a full drug discovery chain with one of the largest academia-based medicinal chemistry groups in Canada. For more information about IRICoR: iricor.ca

Within the framework of the Alternating Meetings of the Prime Minister of Québec and the Prime Minister of France, Rémi Quirion, Québec Chief Scientist, met with Olivier Exertier, Secretary-General of CLARA, and Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, Chair of the CLARA Management Committee, at the Hôtel de Matignon, in Paris, on March 8, 2018.

At that meeting, an agreement was signed between CLARA and the Québec Oncopole, bringing together key players in cancer research, including Université de Montréal, McGill University, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval, Université de Lyon, Université Saint-Etienne, Université Grenoble and Université Clermont-Ferrand. By establishing a formal collaboration between the two centers of excellence, the partnership will promote cross-fertilization with respect to common themes of interest such as genomics and precision medicine, cell therapy and the organization of cancer care. The announcement builds on productive scientific collaborations connecting CLARA and Canada since 2000, involving over 1,300 publications.

Véronique Trillet-Lenoir is delighted by this “joint mobilization that will foster exchanges between the two regions and contribute to the attractiveness of cancer research”.

The implementation of joint research programs and the mutual investment in student mobility scholarships will shape this international collaboration. Focusing on knowledge sharing between both parties, the partnership will also foster the organization of scientific symposiums bringing together experts from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and Québec. A first event is scheduled for November of 2018 as part of the entretiens Jacques Cartier, to be held in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Rémi Quirion said that he is pleased to see that a collaboration has taken shape, which he expects to be “a source of mutual enrichment that will provide international outreach through common research projects and the exchange of good practices”.

About the Oncopole

The Oncopole is a Quebec hub for research, development and investment to accelerate the fight against cancer. Created in February of 2017, it is the product of a unique co-creation process led by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) and made possible by an initial $15M investment from Merck Canada. The Oncopole’s mission is to act as a catalyst leveraging actions made by the key players in Quebec’s oncology and innovation research ecosystem. As a result, it aims to position the province as a leader in the field. Its priorities of action, namely research, entrepreneurship, commercialization and integration of innovation, as well as clinical relevance, are orchestrated in order to foster the mobilization of stakeholders, the discovery of innovative approaches to fight cancer and, ultimately, a positive impact for the benefit of patients. For more information, go to: oncopole.ca

About the Lyon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Cancer Cluster (CLARA)

The Lyon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Cancer Cluster (CLARA) is an initiative launched and funded by the public authorities (National Cancer Institute, Local Authorities and the European Regional Development Fund). It is part of the National Cancer Plans and aims to develop oncology research in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Since 2003, CLARA has been bringing together academic, clinical and industrial players throughout the region, in the service of a regional, national and international strategy for the fight against cancer with a twofold objective: the rapid transfer of discoveries to patients and the economic valuation of research. In addition to its commitment to all research stakeholders to promote their decompartmentalization and collaborations, the cancer cluster supports projects through a structured service offer developed in line with their needs. CLARA is also developing actions to open research to the humanities and social sciences and public health issues, putting the patient at the heart of research.

CLARA is under the auspices of the Fondation Léa et Napoléon Bullukian, a charitable foundation. For more information: www.canceropole-clara.com @canceroCLARA