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Dr. Sandra Turcotte receives funding of close to a half-million dollars from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for kidney cancer research


(Moncton, N.B.)—July 10, 2014— Dr. Sandra Turcotte, Canadian Cancer Society Research Chair, biochemistry professor at the Université de Moncton and research scientist at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI), has been awarded an operating grant by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). With this funding, valued at close to $500,000 over the next five years, she will be able to continue her research aimed at developing new strategies for the treatment of kidney cancer. In advanced stages, renal tumours are resistant to conventional chemotherapy treatments. Dr. Turcotte's approach involves the discovery of small molecules that target a common mutation specifically found within the cancerous kidney cells. Her team's work in this area is promising and their approach is innovative.

"The awarding of this grant by the CIHR over a five-year period is excellent news for me and my team. It will provide us with some stability, and we will be able to concentrate on our research activities and on achieving our objectives," said Dr. Turcotte. "This funding will have a direct impact on the advancement of biomedical research and on the profile of my research community, namely the Université de Moncton, the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute and the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick."

CIHR is the federal agency that funds health research in Canada. From the more than 2,700 submissions received in this competition, some 400 grants were awarded to organizations across the country, a success rate of 14%. This is the first time in the last two years that a researcher from New Brunswick has been successful in securing this type of funding for biomedical research.

"I wish to congratulate Dr. Turcotte for receiving such a prestigious award. CIHR operating grants are the most difficult to obtain; they are awarded to research projects that are deemed amongst the best in the country by research peers. It is important that our promising young researchers receive such funding to enable them to develop their research programs and their teams and to ensure their success," explained ACRI president and scientific director Dr. Rodney Ouellette. This success also demonstrates the importance of supporting young researchers at the start of their career so that they can eventually be competitive at the national level.

According to Université de Moncton president and vice-chancellor Dr. Raymond Théberge, this achievement is perfectly in line with the institution's strategic plan. "The development of new knowledge, as well as its transfer and dissemination, expands the horizons of the university as well as its recognition as an institution of higher education," he said. "I am delighted that Dr. Turcotte's work is being recognized by her peers, especially in a context where criteria are increasingly challenging and competition is fierce."

Dr. Turcotte is one of two cancer research chairs in New Brunswick funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick and Atlantic Cancer Research Institute. The research chairs were established by the Society in 2009 as part of its continuing commitment to funding the best, most promising cancer research in Canada.

"This CIHR grant is a testament to the excellent research being done by Dr. Turcotte and her team, and we are exceptionally pleased with this outcome." said Anne McTiernan-Gamble, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick. "Our investment in Dr. Turcotte's research, together with the CIHR grant, will help further progress against a cancer which impacts an estimated 200 New Brunswickers every year."

"From quite early-on, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation identified Dr. Sandra Turcotte as a potential health researcher of high quality. In the past two years we invested in this young investigator by providing an establishment grant, as well as participating in a new investigator award with the Kidney Foundation of Canada-Krescent and two summer studentships for her lab, totaling $208,000," said Dr. Bruno Battistini, CEO of NBHRF. "This grant from CIHR is quite a natural return on investment that we should be proud of, and which recognizes New Brunswick's excellence in cancer research."

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 (ACRI) is a non-profit organization founded in late 1998 and housed at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton. Thanks to its unique expertise, ACRI has become a true centre of excellence in cancer research.

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