We are driving ovarian cancer research in Canada faster than ever before. The research we lead is changing the landscape of available treatment options. Ovarian cancer research is a priority that will not be ignored. After decades without real change, improved outcomes are possible – finally.
Research is at the core of our mission and our investments and provides hope for those affected. Ovarian Cancer Canada will continue to deliver on its track record of success, better understand how health inequities impact those affected by the disease, keep those with lived experience front-and-center and answer key questions to ultimately change the face of ovarian cancer.
We are building research capacity, unlocking insights into rarer forms of the disease, addressing urgent needs, and bringing hope to people across the country. We take a multi-pronged approach to ensure that all types of ovarian cancer, even the rarest forms, are prioritized to ensure that everyone benefits from the best available science as quickly as possible.
Ovarian Cancer Canada has earned international recognition for Canada as a leader in pioneering transformative research and discoveries. We are accelerating ovarian cancer research and taking it to new heights. We are on the cusp of breakthroughs that can change the face of this highly fatal disease – for good. The momentum is unstoppable and impossible to ignore.
Our research approach
Ovarian cancer cannot be addressed with a one-size-fits all approach. In fact, it represents a variety of different types of diseases, each with different origins and responses to treatments.
In consultation with communities of patients, clinicians and researchers, Ovarian Cancer Canada has created a three-pronged approach with a clear, single aim – to improve the outcomes of people diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Research models are developed by top Canadian ovarian cancer researchers.
We are finding the best research models for ovarian cancer and galvanizing a pan-Canadian consortium of ovarian cancer researchers with expertise in model development, characterization, and validation. Our research supports the development of a variety of models and tools that emulate the behaviour of ovarian cancer for scientific discovery in early phase testing and learning in research labs.
Novel treatments are tested in leading laboratories nationwide.
We are identifying the most promising novel treatments to be screened in the best research models (pre-clinical studies).
Personalized clinical trials are initiated across Canada.
We are advancing clinical trials using a personalized medicine approach. Ovarian Cancer Canada funds early phase clinical trials to bring the best new treatments to people living with ovarian cancer.
Leading to improved outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.
Through these activities, Ovarian Cancer Canada will have a significant impact on the outcomes of those with ovarian cancer, helping Canadians achieve better quality of life and longer survival.
Discover the latest updates and funded projects by Ovarian Cancer Canada.
Our research community
Just 25 years ago, there were only three scientists dedicated to the study of ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Canada is earning international recognition for Canada as a leader in pioneering transformative research and discoveries. We are building research capacity, unlocking insights into rarer forms of disease, and addressing urgent needs. Now, because of Ovarian Cancer Canada’s efforts to attract leading minds to this field and provide the raw materials researchers need, Canada’s ovarian cancer research community is 250+ strong and growing. These scientists are among the most collaborative and engaged in the world.
Ovarian Cancer Canada is fostering deep collaboration with research scientists across Canada, and securing funding that attracts leading minds to this field. This model of cross collaboration amongst research experts across the country has accelerated the speed at which we uncover insights and develop treatments.
We are creating integrated research teams which include patients who help provide real-time feedback and perspective to help researchers come up with better solutions even before clinical trials.
Together, we affect meaningful change.
Ovarian Cancer Canada is convening the research community, resulting in ovarian cancer advancements and progress across the country. Learn more about research funded by Ovarian Cancer Canada.
With the support from our community and partners, together, we can and will improve outcomes for people living with ovarian cancer and change the course of this disease for good.
Meet our patient partners
Ensuring ongoing and meaningful involvement from those who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and amplifying their voices, is at the heart of all the work being done by Ovarian Cancer Canada. This commitment inspired the development of the Patient Partners in Research program as a cornerstone component of our research.
“We deserve a voice at the table of researchers, oncologists and scientists. We are the ones undergoing the clinical trials, enduring the side effects of treatments, and putting ourselves on the line in hopes of fighting back against this brutal disease. Surviving is one thing. We want to have a full life – contribute, love, be loved. Surviving is not enough.”
Shannon Kadar, diagnosed in 2019
Ovarian Cancer Canada’s OvCAN Governing Council
Following 4 years of dedicated and collective efforts by Ovarian Cancer Canada, people living with the disease, family members, and other advocates across the country, in 2019 the Government of Canada announced a first-ever commitment of $10 million to fund Ovarian Cancer Canada’s OvCAN research initiative.
In consultation with communities of patients, clinicians and researchers, Ovarian Cancer Canada has created a three-pronged approach with a clear single aim over the course of five years: to improve the outcomes of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
A pan-Canadian, multi-disciplinary Governing Council has been established to provide scientific guidance and leadership to Ovarian Cancer Canada’s OvCAN research initiative.
Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden, Ottawa, ON
Dr. Vanderhyden has made a remarkable contribution to ovarian cancer research in Canada and the advancement of women in science. She has brought together the ovarian cancer scientific and clinical communities, and has galvanized and energized the Canadian ovarian cancer landscape.
Dr. Vanderhyden began researching ovarian cancer in 1995 upon joining the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre. Her work focuses on communication between ovarian cells and how it can be disrupted to possibly prevent ovarian cancer.
Dr. Vanderhyden was appointed to the Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research, established by Ovarian Cancer Canada in partnership with the University of Ottawa to propel research activity and invigorate the scientific community across the country. In 1997, a $1 million donation was put towards establishing the Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research by Ovarian Cancer Canada and the University of Ottawa also contributed $1 million. Named after the wife of Ovarian Cancer Canada’s founder, the position was the first of its kind nationally and is counted among the organization’s first major research accomplishments. Ovarian Cancer Canada continues to support laboratory expenses. Dr. Vanderhyden founded the Canadian Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research to convene leading researchers. Alongside Ovarian Cancer Canada, she also was integral in the development of Ottawa’s ovarian cancer tissue bank, part of our Tissue Bank Network.
- Dr. Brad Nelson, Victoria BC; Scientist
- Dr. David Huntsman, Vancouver BC; Pathologist
- Dr. Gavin Stuart, Vancouver BC; Oncologist
- Ms. Tania Vrionis, Windsor, ON; CEO, Ovarian Cancer Canada
- Dr. Lynne-Marie Postovit, Edmonton AB; Scientist
- Dr. Laura Hopkins, MD, Saskatoon SK; University of Saskatchewan
- Dr. Amit Oza, Toronto ON; Oncologist
- Ms. Donna Pepin, Toronto ON; Patient representative
- Dr. Helen MacKay, Toronto ON; Oncologist, The Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada representative
- Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden, Ottawa ON; Chair, Research Committee and Governing Council
- Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, Montréal QC; Scientist
- Dr. Jeanette Boudreau, PhD, Halifax NS; Dalhousie University
- Ms. Theresa-Marie Underhill, Halifax NS; Ovarian Cancer Canada Board of Directors
Ovarian Cancer Canada is leading an international movement to galvanize Canada’s ovarian cancer research community. Our unique approach to cross collaboration amongst research experts across the country accelerates the speed at which we uncover insights and develop treatments, increases research capacity, addresses urgent needs for data and tissues, and will improve outcomes for women living with ovarian cancer and change the course of this disease for good.
Ovarian Cancer Canada is leading new research initiatives in Nova Scotia that will impact Canadians across the country. These projects will fill gaps in ovarian cancer treatment and access, identify novel treatment opportunities, and empower leading minds from Nova Scotia as part of Ovarian Cancer Canada’s nationwide network of researchers and physicians identifying more precise treatment opportunities. This work is funded by a $1 million commitment from the government of Nova Scotia.
- Ovarian cancer in Nova Scotian patients: a longitudinal study to define alterations permitting tumor relapse and identify novel opportunities for intervention, Dr. Jeanette Boudreau, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
- Understanding ovarian cancer care and outcomes in Nova Scotia: an investigation using population-based linked data, Dr. Robin Urquhart, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
- Ovarian cancer biobank, Dr. Stephanie Scott, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), Nova Scotia
Ovarian Cancer Canada is leading research with great urgency to make the greatest impact in the shortest span of time. Thanks to a $1 million investment from the Government of Saskatchewan, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are building on existing health care systems and programs to address ovarian cancer.
- Creation of biobank, tumour testing & ovarian cancer drug prediction program – Dr. Laura Hopkins, Saskatchewan
- Perspectives of ovarian cancer patients and obstetrics/ gynecology specialists in Saskatchewan -Dr. Shaina Lee, Saskatchewan
- Effect of iron supplement on survival in ovarian cancer, Dr. Maryam Al-Hayki, Saskatchewan
Ovarian Cancer Canada initiated a partnership with the Cancer Research Society (CRS) in 2014, providing a granting framework for its largest ongoing research investment and established a dedicated category for ovarian cancer research in the annual CRS operating grant competition.
In support of this competition, Ovarian Cancer Canada provides funding for top ranked submissions and the CRS matches this funding to effectively double the impact of research donations. CRS also provides arm’s length review of submissions to identify promising studies for joint funding. Funding is awarded to two projects per year.
A Tissue Banking Network was established by Ovarian Cancer Canada with researchers in Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver in 2002 to ensure ovarian cancer tissue was available for research as needed. Tissue samples donated by people with ovarian cancer provide a building block for researchers studying ovarian cancer. These samples form the foundation of scientific models and tools that enable testing and learning in the lab which are vital to the discovery of new treatments. That’s why tissue banks have been and continue to be vital to Ovarian Cancer Canada. Today, our Tissue Banking Network is a virtual network of tissue banks located in Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
Tissue samples and their accompanying data are made available to scientists and physicians who are conducting ovarian cancer research. Samples collected include blood, cells from healthy ovaries; tissues from benign, borderline and malignant ovarian tumours of all subtypes; as well as the cells and fluid contained in ascites. Specific information on patients and samples are recorded in an extensive database that captures details such as histologic subtypes, stage and grade of tumours, and surgery and treatment dates.