Lisa PorterA team led by UWindsor biologist Lisa Porter has received a federal grant of more than $1 million to advance research on an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Cancer research gets $1 million funding boost

A team led by UWindsor biologist Lisa Porter has received more than $1 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to advance research on an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is the aggressive cancer that claimed the life of Gord Downie, lead singer for the Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip. Dr. Porter’s research focuses on finding new therapy directions to treat GBM.

The research began with funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, said Porter, the translational research director who helped found the Windsor Cancer Research Group.

“The results were so promising that we applied for this larger federal funding,” she said. “We are thrilled to have this support to continue the work.”

The funding, part of a $275 million announcement the federal health minister made earlier this week, will be spread over five years. It will be used to amass pre-clinical data, using samples for testing.

“While the goal is to move onto patients, we need to first complete all testing in the lab,” explained Porter.

The funding will support seven researchers, including students, who work in Porter’s lab. The research is being done in collaboration with Windsor neurosurgeon Abdalla Shamisa, Windsor oncologist Swati Kulkarni, Wayne State University researcher Ana deCarvalho, Michigan State University researcher Eran Andrechek and cancer researcher Daniel Schramek from the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto.

“It takes a lot of collaborators to move this forward,” Porter said.

Porter’s GBM research is one of 370 health research projects across the country included in this week’s funding announcement. CIHR is the major federal agency responsible for funding health and medical research in Canada.

“Health research has the power to help us tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing us as a society,” said Michael J. Strong, CIHR president. “As a researcher myself, I can say that the work is rarely glamourous, but it is always worthwhile.”

In making the announcement in Quebec City Tuesday, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said investments in health research are some of the most important the nation can make.

“These federally funded projects hold the potential for scientific advancements, new treatments and improved quality of life for Canadians living with a variety of health conditions while creating high-quality, middle-class jobs at hospitals and universities across the country,” she said.

─Sarah Sacheli