Breast Cancer Canada, AstraZeneca Canada and Illumina Join Forces To Launch Breast Cancer Screening and Detection Grants

The funding comes as Breast Cancer Canada announced recipients of its annual Precision Oncology Research Grants

TORONTO — Today, Breast Cancer Canada, a national charity dedicated to saving lives through breast cancer research, announced a new research grant in collaboration with AstraZeneca Canada, a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company and Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies. Breast Cancer Canada also announced the recipients of its annual Precision Oncology Research Grants.

Breast Cancer Canada and AstraZeneca Canada will together award $200,000 to Canadian research teams using precision diagnostics and AI technology to advance the screening and detection of breast cancer. Illumina will help fuel the collaboration by providing in-kind donations of sequencing consumables. Eligible research teams must be focused on the discovery and development of advancing quality testing and analysis techniques for the general population in screening for breast cancer, accelerating the new age of personalized medicine. Breast Cancer Canada and AstraZeneca Canada will be looking for researchers that utilize new precision or personalized technology, including blood tests or imaging that identify breast cancer during screening, and machine learning that assists clinicians with more accurate breast cancer detection. The submission period will open on July 3, 2023.

“By investing in Canadian breast cancer screening research, Breast Cancer Canada and AstraZeneca Canada are advancing innovation technology to diagnose the disease earlier, faster and ahead of symptoms. We are looking for research teams to revolutionize breast cancer detection,” said Kimberly Carson, CEO of Breast Cancer Canada. “The progress we seek will address higher quality, less invasive and more accessible test techniques for Canadians.”

“At AstraZeneca, we’re committed to unlocking what science can do to redefine cancer care and set new standards for patient outcomes. That includes helping identify cancers earlier so patients have the best chance at a cure,” says Brian Seguin, AstraZeneca Canada, Head – Breast Cancer. “We’re proud to join forces with Breast Cancer Canada to support research that will not only help improve health outcomes for people with breast cancer, but also contribute to strengthening healthcare capabilities and capacity in the areas of screening and early diagnosis.”

“Illumina is pleased to join this effort and support research to leverage genomics and AI technologies to further innovate screening and detection capabilities for breast cancer,” said Nicki Berry, Head of Americas Region at Illumina. “We look forward to what these efforts will unlock towards improving personalized medicine for patients.”

The AstraZeneca Canada and Illumina partnership comes on the heels of Breast Cancer Canada’s second annual Precision Oncology Research Grants. Researchers from across Canada were invited to submit projects last December for funding consideration in 2023. The selected projects focus on one of the four divisions of precision oncology research identified by the Scientific Advisory Committee: basic science, screening and detection, personalized treatment, and patient-reported outcomes. All projects must also include an artificial intelligence (AI) component and a patient advocate actively participating in the research.

The following are the researchers that have been selected by Breast Cancer Canada for funding:

$75,000 Dr. Saima Hassan

Centre de Recherche de Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM)

Disentangling the immune landscape to predict response to immunotherapy and PARP inhibition in breast cancer
$75,000 Dr. Katarzyna Jerzak

Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre

Identifying microRNA predictive biomarkers for breast to brain metastasis
$75,000 Dr. Joanne Kotsopoulos

Women’s College Hospital

University of Toronto

Improving long-term outcomes following the diagnosis and treatment of BRCA1-associated breast cancer
$75,000 Dr. Hermann Nabi

Quebec City University Hospital Research Centre

Personalized risk-stratified breast cancer follow-up care
$50,000 Dr. Luc Sabourin

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Targeting Sox10 activity in HER2+ breast cancers
$50,000 Dr. Mohammad Reza Akbari

Women’s College Hospital

University of Toronto

Gene expression profiling in young-onset breast cancer patients with ER+/HER2- breast cancer (prognosis and chemotherapy)

Driven by their vision to end breast cancer, Breast Cancer Canada is committed to funding research projects that will directly impact Canadian patients, focusing on the rapid movement of research findings from lab bench to bedside. Grant recipient Dr. Katarzyna Jerzak, researcher at Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre will use her funding for the microRNA biomarkers. Dr. Jerzak and her team will focus on identifying predictive biomarkers for brain metastasis in patients with breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Canada’s Scientific Advisory Committee led the selection process and is committed to listening to breast cancer patients. All funded project teams are required to include a breast cancer patient advocate or a local breast cancer advocacy group as part of their research.

For more information on Breast Cancer Canada and the research projects they fund, please visit,

About Breast Cancer Canada
Breast Cancer Canada is a national charity dedicated to saving lives through breast cancer research. With a focus on precision oncology (personalized care), it is the only national breast cancer organization in Canada that has a clear mandate to raise money for research. The organization receives no government funding, meaning all research is funded through the generosity of donors. For more information visit,

About AstraZeneca Canada
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a focus on the discovery, development, and commercialization of medicines that transform lives, with a core scientific focus in the areas of Oncology; Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic (CVRM) disease; Rare Disease; Respiratory & Immunology; and Vaccine & Immune Therapies. AstraZeneca operates in more than 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

About Illumina
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. In 2023 we celebrate 25 years of innovation, which has established us as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit


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