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‘Strength in numbers’

Efforts underway to grow scientific cancer research community

Research

By Jeff Green

A well-known health researcher is taking on a new leadership role.

Dr. Sherri Christian, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, has been named assistant scientific director in Newfoundland and Labrador for the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI).

Dr. Christian is focusing on enhancing local awareness of BHCRI, forging new partnerships and providing a strong and unified voice for cancer research in the region.

“Being a member of BHCRI has facilitated collaborations with other researchers in Atlantic Canada, and across the country, that never would have happened otherwise,” said Dr. Christian, who is cross-appointed with the Department of Biology, as well as the Faculty of Medicine.

“BHCRI is a great asset for our region and especially for the next generation of cancer researchers in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Fostering collaboration

A respected scientist, Dr. Christian is principal investigator of the $3.6-million Terry Fox Research Institute Marathon of Hope Atlantic Cancer Consortium pilot project, which was announced last year.

BHCRI helped co-ordinate that application and now is host to several aspects of the successful award.

“It is a great opportunity to expand one’s network and potentially find new collaborations that span disciplines.” — Dr. Sherri Christian

Dr. Christian encourages other Memorial researchers to learn more about the institute, including its funding opportunities for graduate students.

Last month, the institute announced that three graduate students are pursuing training as cancer researchers after receiving studentships from the institute’s Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP), which is providing stipend support over the next two years.

“Because the BHCRI community includes cancer researchers from all areas, from psychosocial to lab-based to clinical, it is a great opportunity to expand one’s network and potentially find new collaborations that span disciplines,” Dr. Christian told the Gazette.

“In addition, BHCRI offers opportunities beyond financial, for trainees and investigators, such as peer review of grant applications.”

Dr. Sherri Christian wears a red shirt, black jacket, necklace and black glasses.
Dr. Sherri Christian
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Christian began her association with BHCRI in 2009 as a trainee during her post-doctoral studies with Dr. Kensuke Hirasawa, professor of immunology, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine.

She became a member in 2010 and routinely provides leadership for many of its programs.

Since establishing her own research program, several of Dr. Christian’s trainees have also been involved with the CRTP.

Dr. Christian says the institute is important because it allows cancer researchers to connect with other health-related researchers in the Atlantic region.

“This strength in numbers is clear when looking at the Marathon of Hope Atlantic Cancer Consortium, which is looking to bring research in precision oncology to the region.”

The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute exists to foster a collaborative, productive and capacity-building cancer research effort in Atlantic Canada. Research from BHCRI members has been funded by a variety of funding agencies and charities such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cancer Research Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as well as local funders such as GIVETOLIVE and Craig’s Cause, among others.


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