BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 7
Meet Dr. Connie Eaves
Breaking ground in medical genetics and cancer research
Dr. Connie Eaves, a distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Agency and an
award-winning professor in the department of medical genetics at UBC,
has made groundbreaking contributions to understanding the stem cells
of normal blood, the mammary gland, leukemia and breast cancer.
She talks with DISCOVERY about her career path, research initiatives and
the latest in stem cell research and care.
DISCOVERY: What can you tell us
about your current research?
DR. EAVES: In the past decade, many
amazing tools have been developed to
investigate how normal cells control
their properties and how these are
altered in cancer. These tools make it
possible-for the first time-to measure the living properties of single,
even rare cells isolated from normal
and malignant human tissue.
We have learned that cancers are
composed of a variety of unique cell
populations that are also changing all
the time, like a hurricane. Since we
rarely know a cancer exists until it is
advanced, trying to identify the critical changes that caused it to develop
has become a very complex problem.
My group is focused on a different
approach in which we purposefully
create cancers (leukemia and breast
cancer) from normal cells. The reproducibility of these systems allow us
to address many questions: When
do the first critical changes appear?
What are they? Which changes can
be targeted to kill the cells selectively? We have already made some
significant breakthroughs using this
approach and are very excited about
its further potential.
The fruits of these efforts are likely
critical to finding cures for many
cancers that are currently fatal. They may
also provide new clues about the changes
that cause cells to produce cancers and
how to prevent this from happening.
-Dr. Connie Eaves
DISCOVERY: How do BC Cancer
Foundation donors impact your
DR: EAVES: I have been funded in
many ways by donor contributions to
the BC Cancer Foundation since I first
started as a scientist at the BC Cancer
Agency (then Institute) in 1973. Funds
raised by the Foundation were key
to the sustained growth and global
prominence of the Terry Fox Laboratory
(of which I was a co-founder) and the
Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant
Program of BC, started by my husband and my closest research partner.
This has enabled many joint initiatives between these two groups that
would not have been readily supported
otherwise, thus serving as an early
example of how progress is accelerated when basic research and clinical
efforts join forces.
DISCOVERY: What is next in
stem cell research and care?
DR. EAVES: There is a new and challenging need to understand what
makes a cell stable under some circumstances but not others (even in the
absence of a change in their DNA). The
fruits of these efforts are likely critical
to finding cures for many cancers that
are currently fatal. They may also provide new clues about the changes that
cause cells to produce cancers and how
to prevent this from happening.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Cancer - Fall 2017
BC Cancer - Fall 2017
Why I Give
Researcher Profi le
Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
Testing to prevent cancer in families
Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - BC Cancer - Fall 2017
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 2
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Contents
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Healthy Insights
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 5
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Why I Give
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Researcher Profi le
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 9
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 10
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Testing to prevent cancer in families
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 13
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Legacy Giving
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Regional Roundup
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 16