The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program came into being January 2001. Robert Bras was being treated for Prostate and Gallbladder cancer at Princess Margaret, Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospital, all part of the University Health Network (UHN). From time to time he received care at Mount Sinai Hospital. Robert’s care was exemplary and the dedication of the doctors, nurses, clinicians, pharmacists and staff went beyond the call of duty.
Robert and I felt a desire to ‘give-back’. We asked ourselves in what form this giving back should take and after some consideration, we decided to create an endowment to help get on its feet, a drug development program at Princess Margaret Hospital. The Princess Margaret is Canada’s leading cancer centre and the only hospital exclusively devoted to the education, treatment and research of cancer. It is also recognized as one of the top five cancer facilities in the world and has gained an international reputation for excellence in both patient care and cancer research! Breakthroughs discovered by our scientists often have global impact, affecting cancer research and patient care around the world. Our research spans all avenues: from basic science to the development of groundbreaking treatments.
Under the brilliant directorship of Dr. Malcolm Moore, along with co-directors, Drs. Amit Oza and Lillian Siu, The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program was on its feet with an amazing group of members all dedicated to fighting this insidious disease – cancer. Our program is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team devoted to researching and developing new agents and therapies to eradicate cancer, primarily through early phase clinical trials. The Bras Family Drug Development Program (BDDP), also works in concert with its research arm, the Ontario Cancer Institute’s (OCI) drug discovery program to uncover biomarkers that will enable more targeted and effective drugs.
Since 2001, the program has garnered the credibility and international reputation needed to be chosen by pharmaceutical companies and large government agencies for testing the most promising new cancer drugs. This is obviously a wonderful opportunity for patients as well as an endorsement of the people who run the program in Toronto.
Funds contributed to The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program by our donors are used for the highest priorities – fellowship assistance, equipment, new facilities and technical support of clinical trials – that lead to new and improved treatments. Thanks to our donors, we are one step closer to our vision: TO CONQUER CANCER IN OUR LIFETIME.
Introducing a new agent into the clinical arena starts with first-in-man studies of new drugs or combinations of drugs (Phase I). These are highly specialized studies that need to be conducted very carefully, looking for safety, tolerability, toxicity and perhaps early hints of activity. Phase II studies take doses and schedules established in Phase I and formally evaluate them in specific cancers for their effectiveness.
At present, the Bras Family Drug Development Program (BDDP) has an extremely large portfolio of Phase I and II studies which is gaining our centre both national and international recognition, securing our rank as one of the top five cancer research centres in the world.
Translating the results of early phase clinical trials into treatments that change the standard of care is the ultimate validation of a new drug. The Bras Family DDP continues to work closely with colleagues from the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) Clinical Trial Group, which has led many Phase II trials that have major impact on countless patients around the world. The Bras Family DDP also collaborates with site groups throughout PMH/OCI.
In sum, The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program has grown since its inception in 2001, allowing patients to have increased access to innovative investigational trial. Patient accrual has also been growing every year with strong physician leadership as the key to the success of the program. Another critical factor in the success of the Bras DDP is the comprehensive and talented team that works behind the scenes to make sure trials are available for patients.
Our challenge is to continue to improve treatment for cancer. Our success is measured not only by the quality and rigor of our work, but also the impact we have on patients and their families. The program continues to succeed because of the dedication and enthusiasm of our entire team toward the goal of providing longer and better lives for cancer patients. WE WILL CONQUER CANCER IN OUR LIFETIME.
President, Advisory Committee
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