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This week's federal budget includes $150 million support over five years to establish the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network – a vision shared by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI), the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and others.
"This is great news and the culmination of three years' work and the initial pilot project that began two years ago at the Princess Margaret with the BC Cancer Agency," says Dr. Bradly Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice-President, Science and Research, who was in Ottawa for the tabling of the budget on Wednesday.
"The opportunity is to integrate scientific discoveries and clinical research to accelerate delivery of precision medicine to every cancer patient."
In a news conference at the Princess Margaret in February 2017, then-Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott joined representatives of UHN, the TFRI and BC Cancer Agency to launch a $12-million pilot project.
The announcement in this week's budget establishes the network.
"We are thrilled with the announcement by the federal government to support the creation of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres," says Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI President and Scientific Director.
"Under this new Terry Fox Research Network, Canadian cancer centres, together with their research teams from coast to coast, will share data, harmonize resources and apply new technologies such as genomics, advanced imaging and artificial intelligence, so that no matter where they live in Canada, cancer patients will have access to precision medicine – so the right treatment can be given to the right patient at the right time."
Darrell Fox, brother of Terry, who died in 1981 at age 22 after having to abandon his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope in Ontario when his cancer recurred, said the network name is fitting.
"We have remained protective of the Marathon of Hope branding, using it sparingly and selectively, waiting for the right opportunity to maximize its meaning and value," Darrell said on behalf of the Fox family. "We have found that opportunity with the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network and precision medicine."
William Pristanski, Board Chair at The Terry Fox Foundation, said, "we are delighted with the federal government's momentous decision to invest in world-class cancer research by collaborating with the Terry Fox Research Institute and the major cancer centres across Canada to advance the principles of precision medicine.
"This co-investment to support the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network will bring us closer to the realization of Terry's dream of a world without cancer."