OICR was established with a mandate to act as a catalyst, working with cancer research institutions across the province, to undertake a strategic approach in Ontario and to focus on translation, development and commercialization of cancer research findings resulting in health and economic benefits for the province. Through the first five years, the Institute has been a strategic enabler and played a significant role in raising the international profile of Ontario.
OICR has enriched the cancer research community in the province by supporting the recruitment of leading international scientists and the retention of a significant number of bright, accomplished young investigators in Ontario. The Program and Platform leaders are an outstanding team of internationally recognized scientists. Most recently, we have welcomed Dr. John Bartlett, who joined OICR this year as the leader of the Transformative Pathology Platform. He is developing a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional plan to make Ontario a world leader in molecular pathology of cancer. He was Professor of Molecular Pathology in the Department of Pathology at the University of Edinburgh's School of Molecular and Veterinary Medicine and has played key role in the design and analysis of multi-centre clinical trials, several of which played pivotal roles in establishing new therapeutic regimens for breast cancer in the U.K. and Europe. In total, OICR, with its partners and collaborators, now supports 1,400 investigators, clinician-scientists, research staff and trainees located at our headquarters and in research institutes and academia across the province of Ontario, in Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Waterloo.
OICR is a new model of translational medicine that sits between academic institutions and receptors of scientific innovation in the private sector.
Through its program and platforms, OICR has effectively established a therapeutic target through to drug pipeline. Its drug development program, staffed with 30 scientists, is unique in Canada outside of pharmaceutical companies. OICR plays an international leadership role in genomics and the Genome Technologies Platform is a critical element of the Institute's translational program. It is a fundamental tool in evolving our understanding of cancer and the basis of personalized medicine in the clinic.
OICR has been instrumental in the support of important national and international collaborations. The International Cancer Genome Consortium, now has 40 projects underway around the world hosted by 13 countries. OICR's informatics team is already disseminating cancer genome data for over 3,000 tumours to researchers around the world using web-based tools.
Through its Commercialization program OICR is supporting the development of promising research applications to ensure that the discoveries of Ontario's cancer researchers move out of the lab and into the clinic. The 15 investments made by the Commercialization program's Intellectual Property Development and Commercialization Fund over a period of three years have resulted in:
- 8 new start-up companies;
- 6 industry co-development deals;
- 6 projects with manufactured prototypes;
- 3 private capital (VC) investments;
- 3 technologies licensed or partnered;
- 4 projects with sales revenues;
- 3 projects started first-in-man studies (devices).
A major event this year was the launch of the Ontario Health Study, which will grow over the next decades to be one of the largest population-based health studies ever conducted. Close to 40,000 Ontarians over the age of 18 have already registered with the Study to help researchers investigate the complex interplay of environmental, lifestyle and genetic components that increase the risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The Ontario Health Study will be supported by the newly created Genetic Epidemiology and Biostatistics Platform, which will develop the tools to analyze data for new knowledge about the causes and progression of cancer and related conditions. It will also assist in the translation of this new knowledge into prevention and health promotion strategies.
The plan for the future is to build on the foundation established and to continue to lead the translation of cancer discoveries into health services and products. The Institute is expanding its network of collaborations with both academia and the private sector, nationally and internationally, and is working with clinical leaders to bring results to the clinic for the benefit of patients worldwide.
We have entered into a period of exciting transformation that is leading to a new model to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer. OICR, in a short time, has taken a lead role in meeting the cancer challenge and with its focus on personalized medicine, which is highlighted in this year's report, is positioned to play a key part in this transformation.
As we close the year, we wish to thank Dr. Joseph Pater, who stepped down as a member of the Board of Directors for his wise advice and counsel. We welcome Mr. Allan Rock, Dr. Ben Neel, Dr. Michael Sherar, Ms. Susan Thompson and Dr. David Williams, who joined the Board this past year.
We also wish to thank Drs. Tony Pawson and John Potter, who completed their terms on the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) for their valuable contribution and welcome Drs. Karen Gelmon and David Mankoff to the SAB.
We gratefully acknowledge the continuing excellent support of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Research and Innovation. As champions of research and development in Ontario, they are helping to establish Ontario as a world leader in cancer research and innovation.
Our success would not be possible without the talent, dedication and hard work of the staff of the Institute. Their engagement and commitment to excellence drive the innovation that has made OICR an internationally recognized model for cancer research.
The Government of Ontario began this initiative five years ago to stimulate collaborations across the research institutions in the Province, reverse the "brain-drain", accelerate the translation of medical discoveries from theory to practise, and to reduce the suffering and loss of life of patients with cancer. We are proud of the progress that our wonderful staff has made on all these fronts. We hope that you enjoy reading this report about the remarkable advances made.
Dr. Tom Hudson
President and Scientific Director
Dr. Calvin Stiller
Chair, Board of Directors