Dr. Bob Bruce  

Dr. William Robert (Bob) Bruce is being remembered for his groundbreaking contributions to cancer research and his leadership in cancer science community.

Dr. Bruce was hired by the Ontario Cancer Institute in 1959 at the soon-to-be-completed Princess Margaret Hospital. Over the course of his 60-year career, he made important contributions to both cancer science and academia as a Professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Bruce passed away on Jan. 15. He was 92.

Dr. Norman Boyd, Scientist Emeritus at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, says Dr. Bruce's colon cancer research pioneered the use of risk factors that are precursors to the disease, testing ideas on the causes of illness. Through his work, he identified changes in the cells of the colon lining that are cancer precursors. Dr. Bruce used those changes to test and develop hypotheses linking diet and colon cancer.

"This novel approach to the study of cancer prevention has since been widely applied internationally in the study of cancers in other sites and to the conduct of intervention trials of cancer prevention," Dr. Boyd says.

Dr. Bruce was awarded the 1995 O. Harold Warwick prize for contributions to cancer prevention from the Canadian Cancer Society for his work on colon cancer.

Dr. Bruce began his studies at the University of Alberta where he obtained a BSc before moving onto the University of Saskatchewan to receive his MSc and PhD. He completed his MD at the University of Chicago.

Known for his innovative approach to science

After joining the Ontario Cancer Institute, he became a Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto in 1965 and then the Department of Nutritional Sciences in 1985.

Dr. Bruce would go on to serve in leadership roles as the Director of the Toronto Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research from 1980 to 1988, and as a Director of the American Association for Cancer Research from 1978 to 1982.

During his career, Dr. Bruce was known for his innovative approach to science, his immersion in multiple specialties and for generating, developing and discarding hypotheses. He published more than 200 papers and made significant contributions to several different areas of cancer research.

His career began in radiation physics and radiobiology before moving on to study the selectivity of cancer chemotherapeutic agents. He studied the selectivity of cancer chemotherapeutic agents, particularly on leukemia.

He also developed the first computer database for cancer cases in Ontario and studied spermatogenesis and genetic toxicity.

Dr. Bruce was recognized for his work with a number of awards over his career. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and awarded the McLaughlin Gold Medal in 1980 for important research of sustained excellence in any branch of medical science. He also received the Dameshek Award from the American Society of Hematology in 1970 for his work on leukemia.

Throughout his career Dr. Bruce was an enthusiastic collaborator and was proud to count many accomplished colleagues in Canada and around the world as friends.

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