“Each dollar makes an impact; each dollar is an investment in the future.” – Dr. Amina Zoubeidi

If you have ever wondered if a dollar makes a difference, Dr. Amina Zoubeidi, Professor and Senior Research Scientist at Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC), will tell you that it does. Now a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cancer Therapy Resistance, her journey at VPC started almost twenty years ago as a post-Doctoral Fellow in translational prostate cancer research. Translational research applies discoveries generated in the laboratory to studies in humans, to understand how patients respond to new therapies. And she attributes much of her success to the generosity of donors.

When Dr. Zoubeidi began her post-educational career in urologic sciences, she wanted to find a program that would allow her to advance her translational research by asking clinical questions that would help a patient in some way. In the early 2000’s there were very few women working in prostate cancer research, and even fewer centres with a strong focus on translational research. It was important to Dr. Zoubeidi to find an environment that would support both herself, and other women specializing in urology, to advance to the next level of translational research. She wanted to ask different questions and forge an innovative path in the study of prostate cancer. Through much enquiry and reading, her sources pointed to the recently formed Vancouver Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital. With the support of Dr. Martin Gleave, now the current Director of the Vancouver Prostate Centre and Head of the Department of Urologic Sciences at UBC, Dr. Zoubeidi found a space to build her career advancing knowledge and treatment of prostate cancer.

Thanks to the environment of innovation and interdisciplinary learning that is fostered at VPC, Dr. Zoubeidi has forged her own path and developed her own area of research. As a Senior Research Scientist at VPC, her research aims to uncover how the standard care of prostate cancer therapy leads to treatment resistance and how it can be overcome through novel therapies.

“The Vancouver Prostate Centre creates a perfect environment rich of human capital and resources allowing us to ask clinically relevant questions centred on patients that can be answered in the laboratory. The Vancouver Prostate Center is a bridge between the clinic and the lab to expand our research.”

Today, Dr. Zoubeidi is a champion for the next generation of scientists. She stresses that the long-term success of VPC is dependent on the continuation of research and advancements they are making, and this is only possible through passing the baton to new scientists and clinicians joining the team.

And it’s not just the continuation of research that new talent sustains – they bring fresh outlooks on research, multi-disciplinary skills and capabilities using new technologies, and different perspectives on asking questions to solve problems. Attracting young clinicians and researchers will lead to the ongoing achievement that has made VPC a Centre of Excellence. She exclaims: “The future of urological research is not only in our hands, but also in the hands of the next generation of scientists. There is a bright future ahead and it is exciting!”

However, pushing forward novel research opportunities and attracting talent are not without challenge, and she highlights the importance of philanthropy to do that.

“Novel ideas are not necessarily going to be funded by established channels, so there is a need to find other ways to get funding. That is where support from VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and donors play a major role. They can provide funding that aids scientists to move their research to the next level, where they are more likely to receive grants from mainstream sources.”

Dr. Zoubeidi herself is an example of the impact of philanthropy. Much of the funding she received for her research when she first began at VPC came from organizations like VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “I would not be where I am today without philanthropy. Donations are investments – in human capital, in the next cancer treatment, in the end of cancer. Your investment can change generations. Each dollar makes an impact, and can change the life of a young scientist.”

Philanthropy is the spark to accelerate discovery and launch innovative advancements in care. VPC is at the cutting-edge of advanced care for prostate cancer and other urologic diseases in the world. Thanks to the work of the VPC, scientists like Dr. Amina Zoubeidi, and generous philanthropists who power the center’s work, they are able to expand their research scope beyond prostate cancer and contribute to the broader field of oncology and urology, fostering collaborations and knowledge exchange with experts from diverse specialties. At this pivotal moment, our community has the opportunity to build on the momentum the team has accrued and welcome the next generation of excellence at VPC.

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