Government of Canada Announces New Stand Up to Cancer Canada—Canadian Cancer Society Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team

News release

Top researchers from across the country will tackle metastatic breast cancer and implement new strategy

August 12, 2019 – Montreal, QC – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Current treatments for metastatic breast cancer, including new immunotherapies, are ineffective for disease that has spread to other organs. That is why the Canadian research community is collaborating to accelerate cancer research to address the most pressing problems in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Today, Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced the new Stand Up to Cancer Canada (SU2C)—Canadian Cancer Society Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team. This team will focus efforts to implement advances in metastatic breast cancer research to improve the health of patients.

Drs. Nahum Sonenberg and Michael N. Pollak from McGill University will be leading the Dream Team composed of world-leading Canadian researchers from various disciplines. Together, they will study drugs to effectively treat metastatic breast cancer. More specifically, they will carry out a pan-Canadian clinical trial testing a new therapeutic strategy to determine how the drugs work and how future treatments can be improved. The multidisciplinary team will share data, methods and information among its members with advice from patient advocates to ensure progress in this innovative project.  Finally, they will develop plans to rapidly bring their successful approaches to the clinic for the benefit of patients.

The Dream Team will receive up to $6 million over four years from SU2C Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).  Scientific management and oversight is provided by SU2C Canada’s Scientific Partner, the American Association for Cancer Research International-Canada.

Mr. Miller made the announcement at McGill University, where he participated in a lab tour led by the Dream Team.  


“Congratulations to the researchers whose work will provide the knowledge and treatment we need to improve the health and quality of life of metastatic breast cancer patients in Canada and around the world.  We believe that health research is one of the best investments we can make as a nation and it is a priority for our government to invest in cancer research that seeks to offer the most appropriate and efficient care to people.”

Mr. Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs

“We are grateful for the opportunity to bring exciting results from laboratory research towards clinical application for women with advanced breast cancer. This is an example of efforts to bring progress in basic science to the clinic as quickly as possible.”

Drs. Michael Pollak and Nahum Sonenberg, SU2C Canada Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team members  

“Metastatic breast cancer accounts for the majority of deaths related to breast cancer and there is an urgent need for innovative new treatments to target this disease. That is why we are thrilled to partner with SU2C Canada and CIHR to support this game-changing project to help people with metastatic breast cancer live longer and have a better quality of life. As the largest national charitable funder of cancer research, we are committed to funding research that will help create a world where no Canadian fears cancer.”

Jennifer Wilson, Director, Research Operations, Canadian Cancer Society

“I commend the new Dream Team for addressing critical problems in metastatic breast cancer patient care. CIHR is delighted to collaborate with SU2C Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society to support this unique multidisciplinary team aimed at advancing scientific research in the interests of both today’s cancer patients and those who may develop cancer in the future.”

Dr. Stephen Robbins, Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Cancer Research

Quick facts

  • Ten years ago, nine American women from the entertainment and media industries created SU2C, which is part of the charitable organization Entertainment Industry Foundation, to end cancer by building awareness and educating the public about cancer prevention, and by raising funds to accelerate research that will transform cancer from a deadly disease to one that people survive. The success of SU2C inspired the creation of SU2C Canada in 2014.

  • SU2C’s signature initiatives are its “Dream Teams.”  The first was the SU2C Canada - Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Breast Cancer Dream Team and the second was the SU2C Canada Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team. The SU2C—Canadian Cancer Society Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team announced today is the third.

  • The pan-Canadian clinical trial planned by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team will involve about 40 patients receiving treatment at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and McGill University in Montreal.  

  • Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among Canadian women (after non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. Breast cancer can also occur in men, but is less common. 

  • Approximately 5% of newly diagnosed breast cancers are metastatic cancer. When breast cancer has metastasized (Stage IV), the 5-year survival rate drops to 22%.

Associated links


Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Brooke Kelly
Canadian Cancer Society

About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

About Stand Up To Cancer Canada
Stand Up To Cancer Canada is a Canadian registered charity (Reg: # 80550 6730 RR0001), launched by the U.S.-based Entertainment Industry Foundation in 2014. Stand Up To Cancer Canada (SU2C Canada) raises funds to support collaborative cancer research teams, as well as education and awareness programs conducted in Canada.

About Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934). 

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