The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research recently announced five large-scale initiatives to address different types of cancer. Importantly, each will enable discoveries that reach beyond the lab to impact patients and improve outcomes. This is translational research, where scientific findings are brought into the clinic to benefit patients.

One of the newly-launched projects focuses on ovarian cancer. Led by Dr. Amit Oza and Dr. Rob Rottapel, both from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, the study focuses on high grade serous ovarian cancer, which is the most common subtype of the disease. Specifically, their project examines how some ovarian cancer cells can adapt to survive treatment.

Research findings will contribute to the development of new treatments that override drug resistance.

“Our team is dedicated to learning from each of our patients to improve our understanding of this disease and importantly, how we can use this information to overcome resistance and develop new treatments that will change outcomes for women with ovarian cancer in Ontario, Canada, and abroad,” says Dr. Oza. “With this support from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, our clinical trial findings can be linked directly to the lab to influence and direct future studies involving patients.”

Pictured: Sharon Halpern; Dr. Amit Oza; Elisabeth Baugh, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Canada

Sharon Halpern; Dr. Amit Oza; Elisabeth Baugh, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Canada

Currently facing recurrence for a seventh time, Sharon Halpern is one of Dr. Oza’s patients. She spoke on behalf of the community when the project was announced.

“I’ve been living with ovarian cancer for almost 17 years, and there have been many times that I felt overwhelmingly vulnerable – that my life is out of my control,” says Sharon. “Being a part of this announcement, one that holds promise for my own destiny, is immensely uplifting.”

“This initiative is an important step forward in the right direction and will hopefully result in more effective, targeted treatment – leading to longer, quality lives for us,” she adds. “So, thank you to the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and all involved. And please, keep the support coming.”

The urgent need for greater investment in ovarian cancer research continues. While the impact of the Ontario announcement will be felt throughout Canada and internationally – there is still much to be done.

As Dr. Oza and Dr. Rottapel convene some of Ontario’s brightest minds to address a key issue facing those living with ovarian cancer – imagine what could happen if their peers across Canada had similar opportunities.

Federal funding to support ovarian cancer research would empower our country’s community of ovarian cancer researchers to prioritize and coordinate efforts based on where the greatest impact can be made as quickly as possible.

There isn’t time to spare.