The New Face of Cancer

An unusual institute is applying the newest concepts in life sciences—stem cell therapies, personalized medicine—to one of the oldest diseases.

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) does not take a typical approach to the disease. Many cancer researchers toil away individually, only sharing their results after peer review. But for cancer researchers to receive some of the roughly $39 million the institute distributes every year, they must meet regularly with OICR program leaders to share preliminary data. They also must present their unpublished data in a closed meeting of about 300 scientists and trainees. That yearly meeting is conducted to spur new interactions and collaborations.

Nor does the OICR ask the typical questions about cancer. As one of its first projects when it was formed in 2005, the OICR began to search for secrets about the ever-elusive cancer stem cells and their role in...

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