(Thunder Bay, December 5, 2006) Today, Molecular Medicine Research Centre (MMRC) welcomed a new Founding Scientific Director and two grants totaling $350,000 for research which will benefit patient care and treatment.
Founding Scientific Director
MMRC, which links researchers from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC), Lakehead University, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) in Toronto, along with industry partner Philips Medical Systems, a division of Royal Philips, welcomed Dr. John Rowlands, Head, Medical Physics Research, Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre as the Founding Scientific Director, MMRC.
"The MMRC is the physical presence of a partnership intended to provide access to an incredible pool of research talent, resources, and technology," says Dr. Michael Julius, Vice President Research, SHSC, who was at the announcement to introduce Dr. Rowlands to the community. "Dr. Rowlands is a first-rate addition to MMRC's growing critical mass of research."
"I'm looking forward to joining the team at the MMRC," says Dr. Rowlands. "This region certainly has a lot to be proud of, as well as exceptional growth potential. I'm thrilled to be a part of it all."
Dr. Rowlands' addition to MMRC has been much-anticipated in Thunder Bay. As a result of the appointment of Dr. Rowlands, MMRC will engage in several research projects, including one to develop High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) equipment, guided by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that will use heat to destroy cancers deep in the body without surgery.
"We are pleased to have Dr. Rowlands leading the team," said Michael Power, Vice-President, Regional Cancer and Diagnostics. "The credibility he lends to MMRC via his research experience assists in the establishment of Thunder Bay as a global player in research."
Dr. Rowlands adds, "Two other projects I work with involve the development of novel injectable agents that light up when paired with conventional scanners and development of a new generation of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanner to produce higher resolution images at a lower cost."
"These approaches will enhance our ability to understand disease and its progression, lessening the need for invasive surgeries," said Dr. David Webster, Acting Medical Director, Nuclear Medicine, TBRHSC, President of the Ontario Nuclear Medicine Association, and qualified interpreter of PET.
Dr. Fred Gilbert, President, Lakehead University, says he is pleased with the announcement of Dr. Rowlands as the Founding Scientific Director of MMRC.
"As a member of the consortium, Lakehead is delighted to have Dr. Rowlands on board," Dr. Gilbert says. "Our goal is for Lakehead to be one of the top 25 research-intensive universities in Canada within the next 10 years. Dr. Rowlands and his team will certainly play a part in building the research community in Thunder Bay and in helping us to reach this goal."
Lakehead University was recently named Research University of the year (2005) in the undergraduate category by Research Infosource; it was ranked 1st overall in research income growth and 1st in research intensity in its category. Overall, Lakehead moved from the 38th to the 29th place among the Top 50 Research Universities this year. These exciting developments are complemented by research currently under way at Regional Cancer Care (RCC) and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
Research Grants - Two Projects Totaling $350,000 Announced
This volume of cancer research continues to grow as a direct result of the Northern Cancer Research Foundation (NCRF). The NCRF is pleased to announce a grant for $80,000 supporting groundbreaking scientific research by Dr. Ingeborg Zehbe, Career Scientist, RCC, and Dr. Marina Ulanova, Associate Professor, Medical Sciences Division, Northern Ontario Medical School (NOSM).
Their research in cervical cancer postulates that integrins, molecules that coordinate the response of cells in the cervical lining, could be inhibited in times of inflammation when their expression can send the wrong signal to normal cervical cells and cause those normal, healthy cells to become malignant.
"The anticipated results of this study will significantly improve our understanding of molecular mechanisms involved in development and progression of cervical carcinoma," said Dr. Ulanova. "It will provide an experimental basis for the design of novel drugs for the treatment of cervical cancer, based on integrin inhibitors."
The NCRF is also pleased to announce funding of $270,000 for another project that will impact patients and their families throughout Northwestern Ontario. Dr. Patricia Smith, Associate Professor and Chair of Social & Population Health Division of Human Sciences, NOSM, and Dr. Scott Sellick, Director, Supportive & Palliative Care, TBRHSC, will research and implement an inpatient tobacco cessation program in Northwestern Ontario hospitals.
"Programs offered at the bedside during hospitalization maximize people's success at quitting smoking," says Dr. Smith. "Quitting during hospitalization has benefits beyond general health improvement - healing occurs more rapidly, surgical complications decrease, and shorter hospital stays are required."
This research is pertinent to Northwestern Ontario, which has higher than average smoking rates when compared with the rest of Ontario. In Canada, tobacco use is directly related to over 85 percent of lung cancers and 30 percent of all other cancers. The long-term outcomes of this research will include the institutionalization of tobacco cessation initiatives in hospitals and a reduction of cigarette consumption across Northwestern Ontario.
"The ultimate outcome will be a decrease in tobacco-related diseases, complications, healthcare utilization, and healthcare costs", Dr. Smith adds.
The NCRF is proud to fund these two important research and patient care projects, according to Brian McKinnon, Chair, Board of Directors, NCRF. Research projects such as these generate excitement in the medical and academic fields as well as the community.
"Northwestern Ontario should be incredibly proud of this research as this region is entirely responsible for its funding," McKinnon says. "It's very exciting to see the tangible results of projects funded by this community's generosity."
The NCRF is dedicated to providing funds that stay here in Northwestern Ontario, with the specific goal of furthering research, improving patient care, and stimulating education and awareness for the residents of our region and community."
To reach any of the researchers, MMRC partners, or the new MMRC Founding Scientific Director, call Katherine Bruneau, NCRF, 684-7276.