Innovative Microscope Aids Researchers

Researchers with the Ovarian Cancer Research (OVCARE) program are using an innovative microscope to unravel the genetic changes that give rise to ovarian cancers and pinpoint when in the development of these cancers they begin to change and become dangerous.

The laser capture microdissection (LCM) system allows OVCARE researchers to capitalize on the team’s genomic prowess and helps accelerate the world leading ovarian cancer prevention program developed by VGH surgeon Dr. Dianne Miller. Much of this research requires the study of precursor lesions, which is difficult with standard techniques as these lesions are extremely small. The state-of-the art microscope enables the team to effectively isolate the cells of interest from the remaining cells in the tissue sample. This was an impossible task until the LCM was created.

“The LCM enables us to look for the genetic changes in individual or small numbers of cells that mark the beginning of cancer. We believe that understanding how cancer starts will lead to better prevention and treatment strategies. In our research the system is critical in determining whether we can use mutations as screening tools for ovarian cancer and when a woman should be considered at increased risk.” Dr. David Huntsman, Co-Director, OVCARE, VGH, BCCA

More than 2,500 Canadian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually; more than 1,700 die because of it. The LCM also benefits pancreatic cancer researchers to access molecular markers in bloodstreams, bypassing the need for surgical study. Understanding these lesions is key to developing a preventative approach.

Thank you to donors David and Darrell Mindell, Peter O’Sullivan and the Jemini Foundation for helping fund the new LCM System.


任何癌症都是可怕的,但其中以肺癌最为隐性 – 因症状通常不会在癌细胞扩散之前被发现。正因如此,在以五年为康复周期的调查,肺癌患者存活率少于18%。这不难想象,如透过早期筛查检测,有多少生命得以存活下来。


CT scanners can help diagnose lung cancer at an earlier stage, notes Dr. John Yee

柯江忠先生- 这位来自台湾的知名企业家,受妻子Emily的感染对肺癌筛查检测特别重视,Emily在台湾曾经是胸肺科的护士长,在前线体验肺癌所带来毁灭性的影响,尤其是对那些从没吸烟的病患。


作为一位成功的移民,柯先生相信回馈社会、分享财富、帮助他人能创造传奇,这同样也是自己与家人及Viva Pharmaceutical公司员工所分享的理念。

像其他的癌症一样,早期的筛查检测可决定疾病最终是可治愈的还是只能采取姑息治疗。温哥华综合医院的肺移植及胸肺科主官Dr. John Yee说: 我们知道低剂量的超声波扫描有助于肺癌的早期诊断,最多可减低两成的肺癌死亡率,毋庸置疑,肺癌的早期筛查检测的确能对人们的健康产生极大的影响。


肺癌筛查检测专家和计划的共同领导人Dr. Stephen Lam指出,最终结果将有助于推动在全省范围内肺癌筛查程序的开发,并为加拿大各地和全球医学研究作出贡献。


Mother and daughter battle the same cancer


Bonded through adversity


Young donor honours his great-grandpa


Five-year-old James donates his birthday money in memory of his great-grandfather.

For his fifth birthday, James wanted money, not gifts. The money wasn’t for a special toy. James wanted to use it to remember his great-grandfather, “Papa,” who died from pancreatic cancer when James was three. He told his parents he wanted the doctors to use the money for a cure. He didn’t want anyone else to get sick like Papa.

With $5 of his own, plus funds he raised from friends and family, James donated $220 to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation in Papa’s memory, becoming its youngest donor.

His parents Samantha and Stephen, and grandmother Leanna – a clinical nurse educator at VGH – are very proud of him.

His gesture also touched great-grandmother “Nan,” who was married to Papa for 50 years.

In fact, the diagnosis of terminal cancer came just weeks after Nan and Papa had returned from a special 50th anniversary vacation. Less than two months after that diagnosis, Papa passed away.

“Pancreatic cancer is an often silent cancer,” says Leanna. “Most patients, like my dad, don’t know that they are sick until it is much too late.”

James’ donation will provide hope to other patients by improving early detection screening and treatment options and increasing survival rates.

You can be any age to donate in memory of a loved one. Learn more

Fundraising to end blood disease

Warren Family HRP

Dr. Michael Barnett showing the Warren family around the Hematology Research Program at VGH in August 2013.

The Warrens have set the bar high. They are hoping to raise $1-million for the Hematology Research Program (HRP) at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) so that medical staff can continue to investigate cures for blood diseases. The family hopes for the day when no one else has to experience the loss they have suffered.

Chad Warren and his mother, Sandy, were both diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that starts in the plasma cells in bone marrow. Chad worked with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation to raise awareness of multiple myeloma and set the goal of raising enough money to sustain the HRP for several years.

After trying every treatment available, including two bone marrow transplants, Chad passed away in November 2009. A year later, Chad’s friends and family organized the first Chad Warren Charity Challenge event with funds raised directed to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. The mixed doubles tennis tournament now takes place every fall at the Hollyburn Country Club in Chad’s memory.

The HRP has made great strides for patients since Chad and Sandy were diagnosed – and new treatments have kept Sandy’s cancer at bay for 13 years – but there is still no long-term treatment or cure for multiple myeloma.

Chad was 34 when he passed away, but his legacy lives on through this annual fundraising event. Over $700,000 has been raised to date which will help support blood cancer research and impact countless lives of patients and their families.

Interested in hosting your own fundraising event? Learn more 

Innovative lung cancer screening pilot program to launch at VGH

RS0_3832August 26, 2015 – Thanks to a $1.2-million-dollar gift from philanthropists Jason and Emily Ko, Founder of Viva Pharmaceutical Inc., an innovative and potentially life saving lung cancer screening pilot program is launching at VGH.

More than 1.6 million people die from lung cancer each year, making it the most deadly cancer worldwide. In BC alone, an estimated 3,150 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and it will be responsible for 2,500 deaths.

The VGH Early Lung Cancer Screening Pilot Program will take its lead from a 2011 study at the US National Cancer Institute that showed a low-dose CT scan helps diagnose lung cancer at an earlier stage and can reduce lung cancer mortality by up to 20%.

“Similar to other cancers like prostate, breast and colorectal, early detection can mean the difference between a treatable disease or palliative care,” explains VGH respirologist, Dr. Stephen Lam, a renowned lung cancer specialist.

“The five-year survival for patients with lung cancer is less than 18% because most cases are diagnosed at a very late stage and the cancer has already spread throughout the body.”

The pilot program, drawing on the expertise of respiratory medicine, thoracic surgery and radiology, will pioneer a new model for lung cancer screening for British Columbians. It is the first large scale demonstration project of its kind in North America.

For Jason Ko, a successful business leader from Taiwan, this issue hits close to home. Lung cancer in people who have never smoked is especially prominent in Asian countries. In Taiwan, lung cancer mortality is highest in the world.

“Lung cancer is a cause that is very close to my heart,” says Ko. “Many of my friends, who were non-smokers, have been impacted by lung cancer. I wanted to give a gift that will impact people all over the world. My family and everyone at Viva Pharmaceuticals deeply believe in the philosophy of giving.”

Launching in 2016, the program’s goal is to enroll 2,000 high risk individuals over three years with a two-year follow-up thereafter. It is anticipated that results at the end of five years will drive the development of a province-wide program. In addition, learnings from the pilot will be disseminated to medical communities across the country, transforming early lung cancer detection across the globe.

“We are very grateful to Jason and Emily Ko and Viva Pharmaceutical, who have made this program possible at VGH,” says Angela Chapman, Senior VP of Philanthropy at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Our goal is to raise funds to support VCH’s vision of delivering innovative, transformational and sustainable healthcare and this program helps us achieve that.

To enroll in the program, patients can call 604-675-8088.

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Media Contacts:

Tiffany Kraus

Director, Marketing and Communications
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation
604 875 5196 C. 778 952 6147

About VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation:
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation raises funds for VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services. Since 1980, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation has partnered with donors to provide the funds essential to ensure that our hospitals and health care teams can deliver BC’s best, most specialized care for adults – from patient care to research, rehabilitation and local community health services.

VGH is BC’s only accredited Level 1 Trauma Centre and, together with UBC Hospital and GF Strong, the province’s main referral centre. Here, doctors at the forefront of their specialties care for patients, discover new treatments through internationally acclaimed research and educate the next generation of health care superstars. With donor support, the Foundation works hard to ensure that excellent care is here when you need it.

Donors score a home run for blood cancer care and research

John and Mitzi Cannon

Community leaders John and Mitzi Cannon

John and Mitzi Cannon have become respected community leaders. They have not only given their time, but along with John’s talent in gaining the support of his long term business connections, and in addition to John and Mitzi’s financial donations, have assisted greatly – along with other donors – in the ongoing challenge to fund the Hematology Research Program (HRP) at VGH. The HRP makes available new medications for those people dealing with blood and bone marrow cancers.

After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2001 and followed by a stem cell transplant in 2002, John was taken aback by the level of care and caring demonstrated by the complete team of hematologists and support staff at VGH. The decision was immediately made to give back wherever and whenever possible.

When first diagnosed with multiple myeloma there were only one or two drugs available to assist in the control of the disease. Today, thanks to the HRP, there are over 100 new medications being researched for multiple myeloma alone. Because of the HRP’s success, there are many patients throughout the province that, like John, are living extended and quite comfortable lives today.

John suggests there are many ways to give, by way of time, sharing personal contacts, and giving financially, to name a few. If every person could spare a small amount of time or give financially to the level they feel comfortable, then collectively it becomes a home run for VGH. The former commercial realtor and property developer is definitely an all-star performer on many counts. John has leveraged his extensive business networks to benefit many of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation’s initiatives, including the Night of a Thousand Stars Gala, which helps fund our hospital’s most urgent needs. This wonderful event is also a thank you to the health care workers at our hospitals. John also makes an effort to educate the younger generation on the importance of giving back.

John and Mitzi look forward to continuing their efforts to assist wherever possible and at the same time generate the interest of those around them to do the same.

OVCARE targets worldwide ovarian cancer rates

Dr. Dianne Miller_Summer Impact 2015

“It’s important to point out that the word ‘care’ is in OVCARE – and the people involved in this initiative unanimously care about women who are battling ovarian cancer: real women with real cancer that we want to eradicate.” – Dr. Dianne Miller, OVCARE Co-Founder

Dr. Dianne Miller’s tendency to question conventional wisdom has led to a sea of changes in the standard of treatment for the most deadly gynecological cancer. Co-founder of BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE), Dr. Miller is an internationally renowned surgeon, educator, clinician, and researcher. She acknowledges, “If passion is a prerequisite for change, then I think I probably have that.”

As a group, OVCARE has made several transformational discoveries that are fundamentally changing the way people think about ovarian cancer.

First came OVCARE’s pivotal discovery that ovarian cancer is not a single disease but five distinct subtypes that should be treated differently. “In the past these diseases were all treated the same,” Dr. Miller says. “We are now able to develop specific treatments which will improve the outcome for women with these cancers and ultimately save more lives.”

Next, they found that the most common and deadliest type of ovarian cancer arises in the fallopian tubes. This led to a radical new preventative strategy: a simple surgical procedure to remove the fallopian tubes during hysterectomies. Dr. Miller explains that, “Finding a better treatment is great but never getting the cancer in the first place is better!”

OVCARE’s research team is now leading a prevention campaign recommending greater adoption of this procedure worldwide. “We are able to use this knowledge to prevent many of these cancers,” Dr. Miller says. “Our goal is to decrease the incidence of ovarian cancer by 40-50% in the next 20 years.”

Dr. Miller is this year’s recipient of the distinguished Virginia Greene Award. This award, presented by Ovarian Cancer Canada, recognizes an individual’s outstanding contribution to the field of ovarian cancer.

Help our OVCARE team build hope for women with ovarian cancer.


Jack & Darlene Poole: transforming the future of health care