Solving the mystery of how childhood brain cancer starts

March 19, 2013

A pioneering Ottawa scientist has been awarded funding to study for the first time a particular gene that may be involved in childhood cancer and could shed light on how cancer grows.

Dr. Valerie Wallace, Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, has received a $200,000 Innovation Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to study the development of medulloblastoma, the most common form of childhood brain cancer.

Dr. Wallace will investigate how a gene that is necessary for the normal development of blood vessels in the brain also contributes to the development of brain tumours. Dr. Wallace and her team have created a unique model that they will use to study— for the first time ever — the role of this gene in cancer growth. Her research will also examine how blood vessels surrounding cancer cells contribute to cancer growth.

“We’re grateful for the Canadian Cancer Society’s funding because it enables us to be creative with our research on how this cancer develops at its very earliest stages,” says Dr. Wallace. “Solving this important problem in cancer research could also lead to new therapies that have the potential to benefit all Canadians.”

The Society has long supported Dr. Wallace’s work. Including the new grant, she has been awarded a total of $2.1 million from the Society since 1999.

“We are proud to support innovation in research such as this that strives to answer fundamental questions about cancer growth,” says Luba Slatkovska, Senior Manager, Research, Ontario Division. “We couldn’t make this impact without the support of our donors and supporters.”

The Society’s Innovation Grants were developed to support innovative and creative problem-solving in cancer research. The goal is to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research.

A total of 37 grants representing a $7.2 million investment across the country were announced today, with 20 in Ontario alone. The Canadian Cancer Society is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada.

For more information about the Society’s research funding, visit

Media contacts
Christine Koserski
Public Affairs
Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division

Paddy Moore
Manager, Communications and Public Relations,
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-737-8899 x 73687
613-323-5680 (cell)