CCTG receives matching infrastructure award from The Ontario Research Fund

Supporting the purchase of a histology slide scanner
(left to right) Shakeel Virk, Director Operations & Pathology Coordinator of the CCTG Tumour Tissue Data Repository, Dr David LeBrun, Academic Director, Queen's Laboratory for Molecular Pathology, Ms. Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, Dr Lois Shepherd Director of the CCTG Tumour Tissue Data Repository, Dr. Madhuri Koti, Queen's University (back) Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University.

Queen's University played host to a research funding announcement with Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University and Ms. Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands. Along with a number of awards, it was announced that CCTG has received matching infrastructure funding from The Ontario Research Fund to support the purchase of a histology slide scanner.

The Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure, Small Infrastructure program helps cover the costs of acquiring or renewing research equipment, for example; specimens, scientific collections, computer software or information databases.

The investment in the scanner will enable CCTG to share digitized slides from tumour specimens with expert pathologists across Canada, enlisting their expertise in diagnosis and classification of tumours as well as quantify new biomarkers that could lead to improved treatments in three new trials. It will also enhance CCTG’s precision medicine program by supporting computer-assisted analysis of digital images as well as CCTG's biobank capabilities to support future research.

In August, The Canadian Foundation for Innovation, John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) announced a funding award of $197,065 to allow CCTG to acquire a state-of-the-art digital histology slide scanner. Both the Ontario Government and the Canada Foundation for Innovation provide in-kind funding and this event acknowledges the other half of the funding award.

The investment will allow CCTG to investigate new therapies for patients with lymphoma, ovarian cancer and select rare tumours and new biomarkers that may identify patients that benefit. The new scanner was urgently needed to support the LY.17, OV.25 and IND.228 trials, which required computer-based analysis of thousands of digital image files within a restricted timeframe.

“We are very honoured to be chosen for this additional funding support,” says Shakeel Virk, Director of Operations Queen’s Laboratory for Molecular Pathology and Pathology Coordinator CCTG Tumour Tissue Data Repository. “We will start the tender process right away and plan to have the options reviewed by a panel of evaluators who will assess the merits of the available technology."

“Once in place, the scanner is will need to be integrated with existing software and databases as well as installing new software for image management and analysis. We look forward to a fully operational slide scanner by the summer,” confirms Shakeel.