The Early Career Award in Cancer
The CIHR Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) offers its sincere congratulations to Dr. Bret Pearson as the 2013 recipient of the Early Career Award in Cancer. Dr. Pearson's project entitled "Understanding the mechanism of stem cell lineage development and tumour suppression using freshwater planarians" received the highest ranking (by percent (%) rank) in the 2013 Spring Operating Grant competition.
This award was established to recognize the excellence of research being conducted in Canada by a new investigator (under five years as an independent researcher) in the field of cancer.
Dr. Bret Pearson's Research Interest
As humans, our longevity and consistent ability to fix tissues is due to a specific cell type called "adult stem cell". Adult stem cells exist throughout the life of an organism and when they divide, they renew themselves and also produce a daughter cell in order to replace cells that are lost due to aging or injury. For example, human blood stem cells will replace the millions of blood cells we turnover every day. In addition, humans have highly active stem cells in skin, blood, lungs, and intestines, which also happen to be the most common sites of tumour formation. Thus, there may be a strong connection between adult stem cells and the development of cancer. Cancer stem cells behave very similarly to normal adult stem cells, but simply in a less-regulated fashion. It stands then to reason that if we can learn more about the biology of normal stem cells, we will understand how this biology goes awry during cancer development. Dr. Bret Pearson and his team use a non-traditional model system, the freshwater planarian a non-parasitic flatworms of the Turbellaria class, to investigate the role of cancer-causing genes in normal adult stem cell biology and discover new mechanisms that regulate stem cells. Freshwater planarians possess a large population of adult stem cells that can be easily manipulated and studied. Dr. Pearson seeks to discover new stem cell regulators that could lead to future therapies in human cancers.
About this Award:
This award was established to recognize the excellence of research being conducted in Canada by new investigators in the field of cancer. This award is given annually to a new investigator (under five years as an independent researcher) in the field of cancer with the highest ranking in the Open Operating Grant competitions.
For more information on ICR’s Early Career Award in Cancer please visit CIHR-ICR’s Website, or contact:
Anne Morrow, PhD
Institute Strategic Initiatives
CIHR Institute of Cancer Research