You may have recently seen some news coverage around our campaign, “43.” We launched it on World Cancer Day to raise awareness about the startling statistic that every day, 43 Albertans hear the words, “you have cancer.”
At the Alberta Cancer Foundation, we hear about this disease every day. We know the statistics, the stories, the successes, the losses. But over the last little while that one number – 43 – has stood out for us.
Every day we hear from donors who want to do something about cancer, make more progress, save more lives. We couldn’t agree more.
We know we can change these statistics. Alberta is rich with bright minds, with a drive to innovate. We also have a role to shift philanthropy towards strategic impact if we want to make a difference for Albertans.
How are we going to do that? The Alberta Cancer Foundation has a plan to invest $120 million into cancer research, prevention and care by 2017. We’ve been busy since 2012 with this five-year target and we are well on our way. We know it’s a big number, but what’s even more important is the impact it will make across the province.
We have also changed the way we invest in research, ensuring that each decision we make is focused on improving patient outcomes. One of the first landmarks of this new research framework is our Transformative Programs, a competition that will accelerate discovery and translate scientific research into practice.
We originally received 56 calls for ideas and our expert review team narrowed it down to a short list. Twelve research teams then presented their ideas to a review team made up of high-calibre researchers from across the country as well as representatives from the business, investment and donor communities. We heard from researchers that this was one of the most rigorous reviews they have faced for this type of opportunity.
Based on recommendations from the expert review team, we have chosen to invest more than $7 million over five years in Transformative Program opportunities. Over the next few issues of Leap magazine, we will profile the four research teams that will receive that funding. The first researcher you will read about is Dr. Jana Rieger, who is leading a team to test a mobile app for head and neck cancer patients who have trouble swallowing and eating. Using work already done at the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine, the goal is to have this device in clinical trials within two years.
We look forward to hearing about the progress these teams make, the milestones they achieve and ultimately, how this research will improve the lives of Albertans facing cancer.
Myka Osinchuk, CEO
Alberta Cancer Foundation
Angela Boehm, Chair
Alberta Cancer Foundation