Research is the foundation of successful cancer treatments. Not long ago, cancer was a death sentence for most children. Today, because of advances in research, the survival rate for childhood cancer is just over 80 per cent in wealthy countries like Canada. Still about 90,000 of the 250,000 children diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year succumb to the disease. These children need us to keep working toward a cure.

By supporting our research program, you are creating an environment ripe for scientific discovery, attracting the best and brightest researchers to Calgary. Research in Calgary impacts the care of Alberta children and children worldwide. It offers hope to families everywhere.

Kids Cancer Care research chairs

Established by the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation and other generous donors, our laboratory, translational and clinical research chairs oversee international research programs that are developing and testing potential new therapies that will one day save young lives without causing damaging health problems in survivors. Our psychosocial research chair is investigating the social and psychological impact of the disease on families with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of childhood cancer survivors and their families.

  1. Kids Cancer Care Chair in Pediatric Oncology: Dr. Jennifer Chan holds the Kids Cancer Care Chair in Pediatric Oncology. The research chair enables Dr. Chan and her colleagues to build capacity and infrastructure in the Childhood Cancer Research Program at the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute in order to advance pediatric cancer research. A clinician-scientist in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at U of C, Dr. Chan oversees the strategic vision and growth of a multi-displinary research program of laboratory and clinical researchers who are working collaboratively to better understand children's cancers in order to develop potential new therapies and test them in pre-clinical trials. Dr. Chan also oversees the Clark Smith Neurologic and Pediatric Tumour Tissue Bank. To learn more about Dr. Chan's research, click here     

  2. Kids Cancer Care Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care: The first of its kind in Canada, the Kids Cancer Care Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care is held by Dr. Nancy Moules of the University of Calgary's Faculty of Nursing. In her role as chair, Dr. Moules is expanding on a strong interdisciplinary research program that explores the psychosocial impact of childhood cancer on children, families, relationships, finances, mental health and on health care professionals. Concentrating on the unspoken experiences of pediatric cancer, which are typically overshadowed by the disease itself, she and her colleagues will seek to better understand these experiences in order to improve programs and services for children and families. To learn more about Dr. Moules' research, click here.

  3. Kids Cancer Care Chair in Translational and Clinical Research: Dr. Aru Narendran is a clinician-scientist in the departments of pediatrics and oncology and is the Kids Cancer Care Chair in Translational and Clinical Research. His singular mission is to move promising new therapies from the lab to the hospital for clinical trials in children. Dr. Narendran's research group focuses on the unique biology of refractory pediatric cancers, those that do not respond to therapy, in order to understand why some children relapse and their tumour cells become resistant to conventional treatments. His research team is currently developing a cancer vaccine for leukemia that is only years away from clinical trials in the hospital. His hope is that one day, standard treatment for children with cancer will include cancer vaccines to protect children from relapsing. To learn more about Dr. Narendran's research, click here.

     


International Residency Training Program

Every year, about 250,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. Despite recent advances in pediatric cancer research and care, the survival rate for children with cancer in developing countries remains extremely low—about 20 per cent. Although most pediatric cancers are curable, hundreds of thousands of children from these countries die unnecessarily because they lack access to prompt, adequate medical care.  

With your support, Kids Cancer Care is helping address the challenges of childhood cancer in developing nations by funding an international residency training program in pediatric hematology oncology and transplantation (HOT) at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

The program enables residents from developing nations to specialize in pediatric hematology and oncology, so they may develop the knowledge and expertise they need to train doctors and run a HOT program in their home countries. Residents in the HOT program oversee the in-patient and out-patient oncology clinics as well as the hematology clinic at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Some residents also take part in clinical research while in Calgary.  

To date, three doctors from India have trained in the three-year program and a doctor from Africa is currently training in the program.

“I am learning so much by being at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. As a clinician, I have learnt the use of advanced treatment modalities, which are not available in developing countries and will hopefully become available in India. I am learning how to be part of a multidisciplinary team where each person plays a very important role. I now realize that changes need to be made to the system back home where a physician alone is considered the important element of patient care”

International Resident

Terry Fox PROFYLE

For the first time in Canadian history, more than 30 pediatric cancer research and funding groups have joined forces through the Terry Fox PROFYLE initiative, a pan-Canadian project that will give young people, who have run out of conventional treatment options, a second chance at life. Thanks to your support, the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta is one of 30 partners collaborating in the national research effort.

Short for PRecision Oncology For Young people and spearheaded by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) in Vancouver, PROFYLE is providing $16.4 million to date to establish molecular profiles of patients’ tumours that are resistant to current therapies in order to identify potential new avenues of treatment.

While there has been dramatic improvement in treatments and outcomes for many pediatric cancers over the last three decades, for the 20 per cent of young people whose cancers continue to spread, return, or resist treatment, outcomes remain grim. Terry Fox PROFYLE was developed with these kids in mind.   

Watch the Terry Fox PROFYLE video here.

Read more about this initiative on our blog.


Experimental & Applied Therapeutics (EXPAT)

Kids Cancer Care’s $3.75-million investment into the experimental and applied therapeutics program is supporting collaborative research between researchers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary.

Paid over five years, Kids Cancer Care’s gift will help shed light onto some of the most perplexing and difficult pediatric cancers, which currently have poor outcomes. 

Collaborating with investigators across the hall and around the globe, the Calgary ExpAT group is working to discover, screen and bring to pre-clinical trial new therapies for children with high-risk cancers. The focus of the experimental and applied therapeutics program is threefold:

  1. To improve current understanding of childhood cancers;
  2. To innovate new therapies and test them in pre-clinical laboratory studies; and
  3. To lead and participate in cutting edge clinical studies with patients to test potential new therapies.

Discoveries made through this collaborative research will add to the growing body of knowledge in pediatric cancers and may one day lead to a cure for some of the toughest cancers.


Hughes Children’s Cancer Research Centre

The Hughes Children’s Cancer Research Centre (HCCRC), is a state-of-the-art research centre at the University of Calgary designed to advance interdisciplinary research into childhood cancers.

Named after the Hughes family, who made the lead donation of $750,000 in 2005, the centre is equipped with cutting-edge research equipment as well as both dry and wet labs. The HCCRC houses basic scientists, researchers and doctors, who work collaboratively to investigate the molecular makeup of cancer cells in cancers with low survival rates. By unlocking the secrets of these cells — how and why they behave as they do — researchers will be able to develop targeted treatments, which selectively kill cancer cells rather than all living cells and so reduce the long-term after effect on growing bodies.

Focusing on experimental therapeutics for cancers with low survival rates, HCCRC researchers are working to develop less invasive treatments that will help combat all cancers. The hope is that one day these treatments will save more lives and minimize the short and long-term side effects of cancer treatments.