Lillian Siu
​Dr. Lillian Siu, a Senior Scientist and senior medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is President-Elect of the American Association of Cancer Research, the first Canadian to hold this role. (Photo: Mimi Yuejun Guo)

By Mimi Yuejun Guo

Dr. Lillian Siu was inspired to become an oncologist in her teenage years.

After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lillian accompanied her to hospital visits for 12 years, including receiving chemotherapy treatments at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"I felt very comfortable in the environment and it started to feel like home," says Dr. Siu, who went on to complete a medical degree in 1991 and a medical oncology residency in 1995, both at the University of Toronto.

"Then, I knew it was my calling to study cancer."

Today, Lillian is a global leader in drug development, and through her long career, she has seen life-changing advances that have revolutionized patient care.

She is also the first Canadian to be named President-Elect for the American Association for Cancer Research – the largest cancer research organization dedicated to accelerating the conquest of cancer.

"It is both daunting and exciting," Dr. Siu says of this prestigious global role. "I'm excited to learn different aspects of cancer research and foster collaboration with other cancer centres.

"I think in a world where disparity is a definite issue, it will allow us to break some barriers, ensuring that advancements and resources are accessible."

Dr. Siu has dedicated her life's work to early drug development.

When she started her career, there were only chemotherapy drugs.

"There was no immunotherapy or antibody drug conjugates," she says. "It was at the dawn of the molecular era that empowered drug discoveries."

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