Germline and Somatic Cancer Genetics: Tools for population based individualized cancer care

Today’s cancer treatment is dictated by the anatomic location of the cancer, its histology, and how far it has spread. The Human Genome Project and the development of new drugs targeted against specific features of cancer cells have led to the possibility of individualized cancer care. This is a fundamental shift in cancer management and will involve integration of each patient’s inherited genetic characteristics and the molecular signature of their tumour. My laboratory uses genetic tools to predict inherited cancer susceptibility and genomic based tumour characteristics to determine therapeutic options. In British Columbia, the central referral system for cancer patients provides the opportunity to deliver equitable individualized cancer care across a whole population. I am fully committed to this challenge and dedicate my research, clinical practice, teaching, and administrative skills to this task. My clinical work occupies <25% of my time and involves the genetic based care of familial cancers. The remainder of my time is divided evenly between (1) research infrastructure development and furthering the translational research of my colleagues and collaborators and (2) the pursuit of my own research interests. My major research projects focus on the genetics and molecular pathology of hereditary cancers, with the goal of streamlining cancer susceptibility testing and identifying therapeutic opportunities for hereditary cancers and their sporadic counterparts. Current projects include the study of gastric, breast, and ovarian cancer susceptibility. My research in hereditary gastric cancer is already shaping the worldwide management of this cancer susceptibility syndrome. To develop useful laboratory tests based upon tumour characteristics, I developed and now co-direct the Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre (GPEC) which is Canada's leading tissue based biomarker validation laboratory and a key element in the BC research landscape. My time spent directing GPEC and other such research entities is mutually beneficial as I am user of the research infrastructure I have helped to create. All of my projects are completely congruent with my stated vision of genetic based individualized cancer care for whole populations. Although this is an aggressive agenda, I believe my record in translational research during the first 4 years of my MSFHR scholarship indicates a great likelihood of future success.