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Pfizer Canada, Colorectal Cancer Canada and Thermo Fisher Scientific announce recipients of colorectal cancer grant


Two recipients were selected for initiatives aiming to improve molecular testing turnaround time for Canadians diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer and other tumour types

KIRKLAND, QC, November 27, 2023 – Pfizer Canada, Colorectal Cancer Canada and Thermo Fisher Scientific are proud to announce the recipients who will collectively receive over $300,000 in grants for quality improvement initiatives to empower Canadian healthcare centres without in-house molecular testing capacity, and to improve molecular testing turnaround times for individuals with metastatic colorectal cancer and other advanced cancers. The grant was guided by the need to improve timely biomarker testing so that more Canadian patients may have access to precision medicines that target their specific disease.

Grant recipients were determined by a review panel comprised of medical experts, a patient advocate and molecular pathology experts. The criteria considered for the grant included organizational capabilities, leadership and staff capacity, and strategic alignment with the request for proposal call. The criteria also included the innovation and uniqueness of the proposal as well as the methodology, approach and its feasibility.

“We are proud to partner with Colorectal Cancer Canada and Thermo Fisher to provide these quality improvement grants. Together we are committed to implementation of broader access to next generation sequencing (NGS) for Canadians with advanced cancer,” said Andrew Brown, Medical Affairs Lead, Oncology, Pfizer Canada. “This program will help support the integration of precision medicine into the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer and the collective effort to improve outcomes for advanced cancer patients.”

 “We are thrilled to partner with Pfizer Canada, Thermo Fisher and a team of dedicated healthcare professionals from across Canada to better understand the landscape for molecular profiling in non-academic community centres and provide them with the opportunity to improve patient care,” said Barry D. Stein president and CEO of Colorectal Cancer Canada. “We firmly believe that by awarding these grant recipients with the means to carry out their proposals, we will help improve the quality of patient care and outcomes. We also want to empower patients with the right information so that they can receive the right treatment at the right time. This is our combined challenge and an opportunity to save or prolong the lives of patients while ensuring their best quality of life.”

“In the last five years, the percentage of patients with tumors carrying molecular alterations that can be matched with targeted therapies has nearly doubled, meaning that more patients than ever can benefit from innovative precision therapies. However, a lack of rapid molecular testing means that many patients may not receive these therapies, as results often aren’t available in time to inform initial treatment decisions,” said Garret Hampton, president, clinical sequencing and oncology, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “We know when patients miss the opportunity to be put on an eligible targeted treatment it negatively impacts their outcomes, but in-house, rapid testing can shift this paradigm. The work done by researchers Dr. Kassam and Dr. Yoon is vital in understanding the impact in-house NGS can have on hospitals, health centres, and patients across Canada.”

Pfizer Canada and its grant partners have committed to funding the following two proposals:

Winner: Dr. Shaqil Kassam, MD. MSc. FRCPC, Southlake Regional Health Centre:
Next-generation sequencing use for treatment of cancer in resource-limited community centres (NUCLEIC)

The study addresses the need to optimize and streamline NGS processes in the community healthcare setting due to lengthy turnaround times and treatment delays associated with testing being sent out. The goal is to introduce in-house NGS testing, benefiting patients through faster and more accurate diagnoses; oncologists with improved treatment decision making; pathologists and laboratory technicians with increased workflow efficiency; and healthcare institutions with enhanced reputation, patient satisfaction and fiscal efficiency.

"In a community cancer centre, the importance of rapid NGS turnaround times cannot be overstated. NGS plays a pivotal role in guiding personalized cancer treatment strategies by identifying specific genetic mutations and alterations driving the disease. In this context, timely NGS results significantly impact patient outcomes and treatment decisions. By expediting the process from sample collection to data analysis and interpretation, community cancer centres can enhance the quality of care they provide, access more effective treatments, improve patient experiences and ultimately achieve better clinical outcomes for patients," said Dr. Shaqil Kassam.

Winner: Dr. Ju-Yoon Yoon, MD/PhD, MSc, FRCPC, Unity Health Toronto:
Implementation of dynamic informatics system to complement a comprehensive genomic profiling assay

This study will be used to develop and evaluate a dynamic tracking system that would allow for tracking of each of the biomarker testing workflow steps while keeping the clinical team updated. The initiative will also develop tools for visualization, and analysis of a molecular variant database. By coupling informatics with a dynamic tracking system, this project looks to facilitate communication between the lab and the treatment team.

"Molecular pathology has rapidly turned into a field of ‘data science,’ where we are bombarded with gigabytes of information for each patient, especially with larger NGS assays like our custom multi-cancer NGS panel. With support from Pfizer Canada, Colorectal Cancer Canada and Thermo Fisher, our project will aim to better manage the data flow through custom clinical and bio-informatics solutions. This grant will go a long way in helping us navigate the exciting but unfamiliar realm of ‘big data medicine’ and we are grateful for this generous support," said Dr. Ju-Yoon Yoon.

About Quality Improvement Grants
A quality improvement (QI) grant is a type of grant which consists of Pfizer funding to support independent projects for systematic and continuous actions that lead to measurable improvement in healthcare services and the health status of individuals and targeted patient groups and do not relate to a Pfizer asset.

About Pfizer Canada
Pfizer Canada ULC is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc., one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies. Our diversified healthcare portfolio includes some of the world's best known and most prescribed medicines and vaccines. We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Our commitment is reflected in everything we do, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships. To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit or you can follow us on LinkedInFacebookX or YouTube.

About Colorectal Cancer Canada
Colorectal Cancer Canada (“CCC”) is Canada’s patient led association dedicated to colorectal cancer awareness and education, support for patients and their caregivers, and advocacy on their behalf. CCC aspire to reduce the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer in Canada while improving the quality of life of patients, their families and their caregivers. Founded in 1998, CCC celebrates this year twenty-five years of advocacy on behalf of Canadian patients. Through its Get Personal program and numerous other educational initiatives, CCC has prioritized the improvement of timely access to molecular testing for Canadian metastatic colorectal cancer patients among its many important objectives. For more information, visit:

About Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenue over $40 billion. Our Mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. Whether our customers are accelerating life sciences research, solving complex analytical challenges, increasing productivity in their laboratories, improving patient health through diagnostics or the development and manufacture of life-changing therapies, we are here to support them. Our global team delivers an unrivaled combination of innovative technologies, purchasing convenience and pharmaceutical services through our industry-leading brands, including Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific, Unity Lab Services, Patheon and PPD. For more information, please visit

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