Pawel Buczkowicz awarded the ICR Publication Prize and Lap-Chee Tsui Publication Award

Friday, December 05, 2014
Pawel Buckowicz
PhD alumnus Pawel Buckowicz

Congratulations to PhD almunus Pawel Buczkowicz for winning the 2014 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) — Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) Publication Prize, and the CIHR Lap-Chee Tsui Publication Award. Buczkowicz received these awards for defining potential treatment targets for a common childhood brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

Working with the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology’s (LMP) Professor Cynthia Hawkins, Buczkowicz published his groundbreaking research in Nature Genetics in April 2014. Their research identified three subgroups of this cancer with distinct molecular features.

“In the past, DIPGs were considered to be one disease and were assumed to be similar to adult brain tumours,” said Buczkowicz. “For this reason, the treatments that were given to adults were also given to children — but these treatments were ineffective.”

DIPGs are known as one of the most challenging tumours to treat because cancer cells are intimately intermingled with normal brain cells in a part of the brain that cannot be surgically treated. Current chemotherapy is ineffective and focal radiation only provides temporary relief.

By identifying the three subgroups of this cancer, Buczkowicz and other researchers can now target tumours more effectively and provide hope for patients.

The ICR established the prestigious Publication Prize to recognize emerging Canadian researchers who are improving the health and quality of life of cancer patients through prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment.

The CIHR's Institute of Genetics Lap-Chee Tsui Publication Award is presented to a trainee who has published outstanding genetic disease research. The award honours Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui, one of Canada's best known geneticists, whose discovery of the gene for cystic fibrosis was a milestone in human genetic disease research.

"Winning either the ICR or the Lap-Chee Tsui Publication Award would be a tremendous honor; winning both is an exceptional achievement," said LMP Professor and Graduate Coordinator Harry Elsholtz. "With their paper, Pawel and his colleagues have made a major contribution toward defining the molecular basis of these deadly brainstem tumours."