Minister Ambrose celebrates Canada's Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Week and announces funding for Sarcoma Cancer Research

Supports Ground Breaking Research on Sarcoma Cancer

OTTAWA, June 17, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, marked Canada's Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Week, June 16 to 22, 2014 by visiting with researchers, clinicians, sarcoma cancer patients, and survivors at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI). The Minister was joined by Diana Arajs, Founder and Chair of the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada (SCFC), Dr. Jane Aubin, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice-President, Research and Knowledge Translation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr. Duncan Stewart, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of OHRI, and Dr. Shailendra Verma, a medical oncologist and sarcoma expert at The Ottawa Hospital.

As part of the visit, the Minister announced funding of $1.2M from CIHR to support a five-year research project that will be led by scientists at OHRI on aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of sarcoma that affects children and adolescents, and most often occurs in the arms, legs and torso. The main cause is the production of a new gene, which results from DNA damage in the cell and acts to create cancer cells. The scientists will carry out a genomic analysis of tumour stem cells, which will provide information to guide the development of innovative new strategies to treat this childhood cancer. The project is an example of the outstanding work being carried out by health researchers across the country with the support of the Government of Canada.

Quick Facts

  • Sarcoma is a type of cancer that attacks connective tissues within the body, often causing tumours in muscles, bones, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. While sarcoma affects people of all ages, it is especially common in children and young adults.
  • Canadian icon Terry Fox, who ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research, had osteosarcoma, a form of sarcoma cancer of the bones.
  • Close to 1,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with sarcoma each year, and tragically, approximately 500 will die from one of the 50 identified types of sarcoma.
  • Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested more than $1.15B in cancer research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • The Government of Canada is the largest single investor in health research in Canada. Currently, CIHR is supporting more than 13,200 health researchers and trainees across Canada.


"I applaud the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada for its ongoing work to raise awareness, promote research and support patients and their families. Our Government is pleased to support innovative research that will contribute to our shared goal of improving cancer treatment for Canadians."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"We are thrilled to be part of this important announcement. Our mission as an organization is to act as a resource for patients and their families, while supporting critical research projects and raising awareness about sarcoma cancer. The recognition of a national Sarcoma Cancer Awareness week is critical to elevating the understanding and awareness of this cancer, which tends to affect younger Canadians but receives limited attention.  We are thrilled to have Minister Ambrose's support."
Diana Arajs
Founder and Chair, Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada

"CIHR is committed to supporting research excellence and its translation into health benefits for Canadians. This project showcases Canada's leadership in the field of cancer stem cells. The results of this research will help find more targeted treatments for this disease."
Dr. Jane Aubin
Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice-President, Research and Knowledge Translation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

"The funding provided by the Government of Canada enables world class research that benefits cancer patients and their families. Sarcoma is a serious illness that often afflicts the most vulnerable in our society – children. Our researchers will use the support they have received from the federal government to create new understanding of stem cells in cancer in the hopes of developing new approaches to treating this debilitating disease."
Dr. Duncan Stewart
CEO and Scientific Director, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Vice-President, Research, The Ottawa Hospital
Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa

Associated Links

Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,200 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information: Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, 613-957-0200; David Coulombe, Media Relations, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563,; Jennifer Runza, Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada, 416-319-0014,



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