Something we must do

Sylvie Demers, honorary chair of the Goodman Gala

Sylvie Demers, chair of the Quebec market‎ at TD Bank, knows the bank must give back to the communities it serves. Working with the Goodman Cancer Research Centre has been a natural fit; very few families and communities have never been exposed to cancer. “We have a lot of employees and clients who are impacted by this disease in some way,” she said.

Demers is no exception. Her mother died from breast cancer when Demers was a child, and her sister received her diagnosis about a week before Demers accepted the role of honorary chair of the Goodman Gala.

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Building a Toolbox

Dr. Peter Siegel, Principal Investigator, GCRC

Dr. Peter Siegel is a scientist because he is curious about how things work. “Maybe that is the underlying drive for a lot of scientists,” he said. In his case, he wants to know how cancer grows and spreads—how cancer can metastasize.

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Team Effort

Sandy Martz, Goodman Gala vice-chair

Sandy Martz is one of the GCRC's dedicated volunteers and this year's Gala vice-chair.

There would be no Gala without guests, and no guests without invitations. Ever wonder how all the pieces get put together? Just ask Sandy Martz, the vice-chair of this year’s event and of the last two galas.

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Passion and patients

Jin Yong Patrick Park, Master's student, Laboratory of Dr. George Zogopoulos

Patients keep Jin Yong Patrick Park going. A master’s student at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, Park and his colleagues rely on the generosity of patients and their families to do their work. He is studying how the hereditary underpinnings of pancreatic cancer impact the efficacy of treatment. Someday, the work he and his labmates do could help people better understand their risk of developing pancreatic cancer and help physicians decide which drugs will be the most effective treatment for each patient.

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Wide-Reaching Impacts

James McGill Professor, Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre National du Québec, Michel L. Tremblay, PhD, GCRC

After his mother passed away from breast cancer, Dr. Michel Tremblay changed his plans immediately. Instead of continuing his graduate research in microbiology, he began a career in cancer research that has spanned decades and brought him to the Goodman Cancer Research Centre.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” Tremblay said. “Cancer has been and still is now one of the advanced research fields of medicine.”

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In Our Backyard

Sylvain Renzi, Gala Fundraising Team member,
President, ImportFab Inc.

These days, it seems cancer leaves few families untouched. Sylvain Renzi, one of the Goodman Cancer Research Centre’s dedicated volunteers and donors, is no exception. “My dad has cancer right now. But we’re counting our blessings. Even after two years, he’s still with us,” Renzi said. His grandfather and uncle both passed away after fighting cancer. His cousin and aunt also battled cancer.

“For me, cancer is a very important cause,” he said, “as you can guess! We need to keep on pushing basic research.”

When Renzi decided it was time to do something to fight the disease, he wanted to make his move close to home. In 2010, Renzi, the president of Pointe-Claire-based pharmaceutical manufacturer ImportFab, made his first gift to the Centre and joined the fundraising committee.

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Fueling research

Julie St-Pierre, PhD, Associate Professor,  GCRC

Dr. Julie St-Pierre has always been fascinated by what powers us – the hardworking cellular machines that give our cells the energy they need to survive and function. Her work may help us understand how cells are able to keep growing, even when they shouldn’t.

St-Pierre works in the field of oncometabolism at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC). She is interested in understanding how cancer cells fuel their growth.  Just as metabolism helps us break down food for the energy we need for our tissues and organs, these metabolic processes are also at work inside cancer cells. Mitochondria—self-contained structures that are responsible for transforming proteins and fats into energy our cells can use—are St-Pierre’s specialty.

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Looking ahead

Ruba Halaoui, right, and Sylvia Andrzejewski organize the Young Women in Bio programs

Sylvia Andrzejewski and Ruba Halaoui are not waiting until they’ve completed their PhDs at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) to begin inspiring the generation that could follow them into the lab.

Andrzejewski and Halaoui are members of the Young Women in Bio (YWIB) program, orchestrated by Women in Bio (WIB). When Andrzejewski and Halaoui lead an YWIB event in Montreal, a group of 14 and 15-year old girls greet them with smiles and questions: about what kinds of careers exist in science, what it is like to be a graduate student, and even how to choose a good supervisor. “It’s a good girl power club,” Andrzejewski said.

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In the Family

Nancy Kellett, BA’70, MLS’73, and her husband John Kellett, BCom’68

John Patrick, BA'42, MDCM’43, would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. So his daughter, Nancy Kellett BA’70, MLS’73, and her husband John Kellett BCom’68, decided now was the right time to give to McGill. Their contribution to the Goodman Cancer Research Centre’s Gala not only honours Patrick’s life, but also the role that McGill and the Faculty of Medicine has played in their lives.

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Linking the pieces together

Jutta Steinberger, Goodman Cancer Research Centre

Jutta Steinberger, PhD

Beginning a post-doctoral fellowship at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) was a return to Dr. Jutta Steinberger’s roots. Though she did her graduate studies in Vienna in structural biology, she wanted to broaden her scientific perspective while working a field that could impact people’s health. At the GCRC, she has the resources she needs to do just that as a recipient of a donor-supported GCRC award.

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The Realization of Roz’s Dream

Penny Echenberg, Gala Chair

Less than three weeks before the inaugural Goodman Cancer Research Centre Gala in 2010, the guest list surged from less than 500 people to 800. The venue, a large tent built on McGill’s Lower Campus for convocation in early June, would not be available for her team to decorate until just 48 hours before the event.

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Spreading the Word

Nicole Beauchemin, PhD, Professor,  GCRC

After Dr. Nicole Beauchemin beat her cancer, she knew she needed some time to talk. Not about her own experience, but about the cancer research she and her colleagues have done. Beyond information about their own case, people being treated for the disease need more information about the future of cancer treatments, Beauchemin believed. On April 20, she will do her part as the moderator of the Goodman Cancer Research Centre’s final Public Forum discussion of the season about leukemia in children and adults. 

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