Fund trailblazing cancer research

Funds raised through the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) holiday campaign have a lasting impact on cancer outcomes in Canada by supporting the brightest minds in cancer research, fueling life-saving discoveries, and transforming our understanding of cancer. Dr Gilles Robichaud is one of the many researchers who has seen the incredible impact that donations can have. With his trailblazing breast cancer research, he hopes that donors know more breakthroughs are now possible because of their support.

Dr Gilles Robichaud, smiling at the camera.
Dr Gilles Robichaud

Inspiring a team to progress metastatic research

For as long as he can remember, Dr Gilles Robichaud always wanted to know how and why things work the way they do. His curiosity and motivation to be a strong leader led to his passion to study biological processes and genetics that dictate cell behaviour. He knew he wanted his work to have the most impact on communities, so he decided to focus his efforts on cancer research.

Being a cancer researcher is incredibly fulfilling not only because of the exciting monthly discoveries that piece together the roadmap of cancer processes, but also because of the collective and collaborative efforts from all disciplines. We’re all passionately working together to conquer a common goal – to end cancer once and for all.

When working in a cancer research lab, Dr Robichaud says there can be many exciting moments when the most subtle ideas discussed amongst friends and colleagues are revealed to be impactful and validated discoveries. Most notably was during a workplace social hour. A discussion began on how metastatic cells could generate so much energy in comparison to their non-cancerous counterparts, enabling the ability for the cancer to relocate in a completely different part of the body and reseed metastatic tumors. Eventually, they were able to demonstrate that cancer cells gain energy by generating engines (called mitochondria) through stealing those found in healthy cells. Cancer cells therefore benefit from greater energy production, which increase their malignant features and leading to a progression of the disease.

Dr Robichaud’s team is now building on this new understanding of metastatic cells to learn how to stop the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

Moving forward breast cancer research with the help of donors

Nine out of 10 deaths from breast cancer are caused by the disease spreading to other parts of the body, but what causes this spread is still not well understood. With Canadian Cancer Society funding, Dr Robichaud will build upon his previous research into breast cancer cells. The research team will use cells cultured in the lab to figure out how this upcycling affects the ability of breast cancer cells to spread. If successful, this project will identify new targets for anti-cancer therapy to stop breast cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

Throughout all his research, Dr Robichaud always considered himself lucky for being given the opportunity to pursue his ideas because he knows how difficult it can be to receive funding. But seeing first-hand how frequently new discoveries are made and are used to better detect, diagnose, and treat cancer gives him a lot of hope for people who have been impacted by cancer.

As a CCS-funded researcher, I am honored and very grateful. I know personally what it takes to raise these funds. Whether it be long hours standing at a donation booth or going door to door in the rain to create awareness. Fundraising is enormous work and uniquely depends on the generosity and kindness of CCS donors, volunteers, and fundraisers. 

Cancer never takes a holiday and neither do we. Your generous contributions when you make a tribute donation or when you donate monthly can be directed towards life-saving research, support programs for those facing cancer and their families and so much more.