The Canadian Cancer Society Awards for Excellence in Cancer Research, which were announced on Thursday, Sept. 14, recognize individuals who have made, and are making, valuable contributions to the cancer research ecosystem in Canada. (Graphic: UHN)

Three prominent scientists from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have been honoured with prestigious Canadian Cancer Society awards for excellence in research – and will receive $20,000 each to support their work.

Dr. Frances Shepherd received the 2022 Lifetime Contribution Prize; Dr. Amit Oza, the 2022 O. Harold Warwick Prize; and Dr. Hansen He, the 2022 Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize.

Dr. Shepherd, a staff physician at the Princess Margaret and the Scott Taylor Chair in Lung Cancer Research, is an international leader in clinical and translational lung cancer research who has transformed the standard of care for lung patients in Canada and around the world.

"When I started as a medical oncologist, treatment of lung cancer was almost shunned," she says. "Chemotherapy drugs were not effective and were extremely toxic."

In her 40-year career, Dr. Shepherd has been instrumental in changing that, opening the door to lung cancer therapies that prolong patients' lives and increase cure rates.

"An early study we did found that giving patients chemotherapy after surgery prolonged survival and increased the cure rate by an astonishing 15 per cent," says Dr. Shepherd, who is also a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. "The study changed practise around the globe."

Dr. Shepherd has contributed to more than 600 peer-reviewed publications, and designed and led more than 100 innovative clinical trials which have changed treatment for people with early- and advanced-stage lung cancer.

Dr. Oza holds the Daniel Bergsagel Chair in Medical Oncology and is head of the Princess Margaret's Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, and Director of Clinical Research, and Co-Chair of the UHN Clinical Research Collaborative Centre.

A global leader in gynecological cancer research, Dr. Oza's research has focused on the design and development of early-phase clinical trials to test new anti-cancer drugs and to understand the biology that contributes to cancer response or treatment resistance.

He has conducted more than 100 clinical trials and notably played a key role incorporating novel targeted therapies into ovarian cancer to change the standard of care, particularly with bevacizumab and Parp inhibitors. He has more than 400 peer-reviewed publications and has received more than $50 million in grant funding.

The O. Harold Warwick prize is named for Dr. Warwick, a pioneering researcher in cancer control and treatment.

Dr. He, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret and co-lead of RNA Nanomedicine Initiative, is an experimental and computational biologist best known for his contributions to the field of cancer epigenetics and RNA biology. RNA is a go-between from DNA to protein that is recognized as one of biology's most versatile molecules.

Dr. He's research has uncovered new diagnostic and treatment strategies for prostate and other cancers. His findings have been translated into practical applications, including clinical trials and four patents for new approaches to target coding and noncoding RNAs for cancer therapy.

Dr. He has co-authored more than 100 publications in high-profile journals, including Nature and Nature Genetics.

The Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize is named in honour of Bernard and Francine Dorval whose long-standing support of the Canadian Cancer Society has helped raise $2 million to support research and programs.

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