Photo of Gang Lab Member Tiffany Ho working on a microscope

The Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology (CPO) at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy is on the cutting-edge of developing technology aimed at advancing science and improving care for patients with cancer.

With 190 active members including 40 faculty and 150 trainees from across medical and scientific disciplines, the CPO is focused on the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments for cancer. “Ultimately, our goal is to advance the most promising approaches to clinical trials in collaboration with oncologists at the University of Toronto affiliated hospitals,” said Professor Raymond Reilly, Director of the Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology, and an expert in the development of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals.

Translational cancer research spans a very wide range of research from preclinical studies in cancer cells and animal tumour models to drug development and formulation to finally, advancement from the “bench-to-bedside” in clinical trials in cancer patients. “The CPO is contributing to all these steps. We have resources to support innovative preclinical studies and recently, we constructed a first-in-Canada GMP facility for radiopharmaceuticals to advance this class of drugs from promising preclinical studies to first-in-humans clinical trials,” said Reilly.

Supporting the next generation of scientists

The CPO supports the next generation of cancer researchers by providing a core equipment facility and training as well as scientific guidance to trainees. Through education and networking initiatives including a seminar series and a world-class research symposium which attracts some of the world’s top scientists, trainees can engage with scientific leaders and can present their evolving research. The CPO also provides graduate student scholarships to help support trainees in their thesis research.

“The CPO is pretty central because it functions like a meeting area or gathering area for a number of different cancer researchers as well as graduate trainees like myself,” said Tiffany Ho, PhD candidate in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a CPO trainee. Ho is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Professor Gang Zheng, a member of the CPO who holds a Canada Research Chair in Cancer Nanomedicine, and is a leading expert in the use and development of light-activable nanoparticles.

“I think a significant impact of the CPO is to provide an opportunity for pharmacy and pharmaceutical science to contribute to the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Reilly. “The CPO was established to concentrate efforts and promote the collaborations needed to realize crucial advances in science and treatment.” 

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