McMaster University researchers are joining the Canadian Pediatric Cancer Consortium (CPCC) being established through a federal government grant to tackle childhood cancers.

The federal government is investing $23 million in the CPCC, the largest ever funding of its kind in Canada. The CPCC will lay the foundations for co-ordinated research in pediatric cancer, develop new therapies and train the next generation of pediatric cancer specialists.

The CPCC will be led by SickKids researchers David Malkin, staff oncologist and senior scientist, and Jim Whitlock, head of division for haematology and oncology. McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences researcher Stacey Marjerrison is a principal applicant, together with co-applicant Paul Gibson and collaborators Uma Athale and Vicky Breakey. 

“We at McMaster are thrilled to be able to advocate for our patients through this work,” said Marjerrison, CPCC leadership team member and associate professor of the Department of Pediatrics.

“My area of focus within the leadership team is to ensure that the voices and experiences of all families are integrated in this work, including those from geographically remote and ethnically diverse communities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis families, newcomers to Canada, those belonging to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and those with disabilities.”

Marjerrison said the CPCC will unite childhood cancer centres, researchers and organizations with advocates, patients, and families to ensure equitable access to state-of-the-art cancer care for every child in Canada. This will include the entire cancer journey including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. It will also address knowledge gaps in pediatric cancer research.

The CPCC’s funds come from the $30 million investment in pediatric cancer research announced in the 2021 federal budget. The money is being provided through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The CIHR has invested more than $1 billion in cancer research from 2016 to 2021.

“Because pediatric cancers cannot be treated like adult cancers, we recognize the need to provide dedicated funding for childhood cancer research,” said Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.

“We are proud to support the Canadian Pediatric Cancer Consortium and the work it does to find new and better treatments so children who have cancer can grow and thrive and lead productive lives.”

Malkin and Whitlock said that “The Canadian Pediatric Cancer Consortium will help support transformative change in the delivery of cancer care and research to all Canadian children, bringing together patient and family advocates, clinicians and researchers from across Canada.”

“By harnessing Canada’s collective capacity for world-leading science and clinical programs, the CPCC will establish a foundation for a national pediatric cancer strategy to deliver fast, fair, effective and safe care to all children with cancer.”

Adrienne Co-Dyre, CPCC co-lead and pediatric cancer advocate, said that “The pediatric cancer community is coming together with patients and families to forge a new path for health care in Canada.”

“The challenges facing pediatric cancer patients are unique and require unique solutions. This Canadian Pediatric Cancer Consortium sends the message that our call for more supports during and after treatment have been heard, and that our children deserve more – more access to the highest quality care, novel treatments and opportunities to live longer and healthier lives.”

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