UBC cancer researchers are part of a team that has been awarded the 2021 Team Science Award by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Dr. Poul Sorensen, a professor in the faculty of medicine’s department of laboratory and pathology, is the principal investigator of the UBC component of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation-Stand Up To Cancer (SUTC) Pediatric Cancer Dream Team. The group helps develop new immunotherapy approaches for high-risk childhood cancers.
The Dream Team is being recognized for significant contributions to the pediatric cancer research community including the genesis of over 319 published manuscripts, submission of 44 patent applications, creation of a new clinical trials network, generation of over $118 million to support innovative research, and for contributing to the treatment of over 1,113 children on early phase clinical trials, with many demonstrating durable complete responses.
Dr. Sorensen, also a distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Research Centre, the Asa and Kashmir Johal Endowed Chair in Childhood Cancer Research and an investigator with the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program, says he is extremely grateful for this award.
“I am deeply honored and indeed humbled to be a part of this powerful and effective team,” Dr. Sorensen said. “The Dream Team epitomizes the power of team science, as everyone on the team has a role to play, and is equally important for bringing new therapies to pediatric cancer patients. This group also captures the essence of translational medical research, in which diverse people from across different scientific, clinical, and other disciplines come together to share their expertise, in order to expediently deliver exciting new innovations to the clinic.”
The Dream Team now consists of about 200 researchers across 10 leading children’s hospitals and childhood cancer-focused research programs. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation and SU2C launched the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team with a grant of $14.5 million over a four-year term beginning in 2013. In that time, the team worked to improve and expand immunotherapy in childhood cancers. In particular, the team integrated insights from the field of genomics into immunotherapy to identify new therapeutic targets and develop new drugs. In 2017, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation renewed its commitment with an additional $8 million in funding. Furthermore, the eight institutions that were part of the consortium at that time, pledged to match the St. Baldrick’s Foundation grant to bring the total of additional funding to $16 million, including the BC Cancer Foundation for the Vancouver funding component.
“From establishing novel immunotherapies for pediatric cancer, to giving hope to thousands of children and their families through the clinical trial network it established, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation-SU2C Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has made incredible advancements in pediatric cancer research,” said Margaret Foti, chief executive officer of the AACR. “The AACR is proud to honor these two remarkable leaders of the program and all those involved in this project since 2013 with this prestigious AACR team science award.”
The AACR Team Science Award was established in 2007 to acknowledge and catalyze the growing importance of interdisciplinary teams to the understanding of cancer and the translation of research discoveries into clinical cancer applications. The award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary team of researchers for their innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or may advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer, or a team that has applied existing knowledge to advancing the detection, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of cancer.
The Vancouver team also includes:
- Mads Daugaard, associate professor, department of urologic sciences; senior research scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre, head, Molecular Pathology & Cell Imaging Core Facility, Vancouver Prostate Centre
- Alberto Delaidelli, PhD student, department of pathology and laboratory medicine, BC Cancer Research, Sorensen Lab
- Anne-Chloe Dhez, postdoctoral research fellow, BC Cancer Research, Sorensen Lab
- Htoo Z. Oo, Molecular Pathologist, Daugaard Lab
- Kirk R. Schultz, professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics and Co-Lead, Childhood Cancer & Blood Research Group, BC Children’s Hospital, director of the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program
- Patrick J. Sullivan, parent advocate
- Anne Steino, program manager, BC Cancer Research, Sorensen and Daugaard Labs
- Melanie Rouleau, program manager, BC Cancer Research, Sorensen Lab
- Haifeng Zhang, postdoctoral fellow, department of pathology and laboratory medicine, BC Cancer Research, Sorensen Lab
The entire list of team members honoured with this award is available here.