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Description of the competition and its promoters 

IRICoR and the Oncopole, in partnership with the FRQS, are launching the new LeadAction-Onco Competition. This joint call for projects is an opportunity for researchers from Quebec and the rest of Canada to accelerate the transformation of their projects in oncology and immuno-oncology into novel therapies for the benefit of patients.

Project eligibility

The researchers are invited to submit research projects that meet the following criteria:

  • Show great scientific and commercial potential;
  • Fulfill an unmet and clearly identified medical need;
  • For developing pharmaceutical compounds or biotherapies;
  • Between the stages of hit identification and pre-clinical studies.

Competition total budget: $2.4 M

Grant amount per project: maximum of $600,000 for 2 years.
Co-funding is not mandatory.

Important dates

Deadline for submitting the Notice of Intent: October 30, 2018, by 4:30 pm
Deadline for submitting the Complete Application: February 4, 2019, by 4:30 pm

Access the competition guidelines

For more information, please contact the following persons:

The Oncopole is organizing its first annual symposium on Nov. 1-2 in Montreal. This event will present a number of new research initiatives supported by Oncopole as well as a series of keynote speakers on topics such as drug development, recent advances in immuno-oncology, cancer research and data sharing in the era of personalized medicine. We are looking forward to foster discussions and networking between researchers, students, leaders in the field and various partners all dedicated to a better research community to lead the fight against cancer.

This year’s symposium takes place at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, located downtown.


The Oncopole is proud to announce its participation in the Montreal Cancer Consortium (MCC), the second pilot project launched by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) aiming to form a pan-Canadian network of linked cancer centres.

The MCC will receive $6.5 million over the next two years from several organizations supporting the initiative, including the Oncopole. As the project catalyst, TFRI is providing $2 million.

“This partnership is the outcome of an important mobilization effort across different Montreal hospitals and research centers involved in the fight against cancer. We are proud to contribute $750,000 to the consortium creation that responds to the co-ordination needed to bring innovative solutions to patients,” explains Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine, executive director of Oncopole.

The researchers involved will pursue research projects focused on improving precision and personalized medicine strategies for the treatment of cancer patients.

The pilot project will consolidate existing research strengths in the field and forge new multi-center collaborations across research centres and research-intensive hospitals in Montreal focusing on immunotherapy treatments for melanoma and acute leukemia.

The MCC brings together many organizations: Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC), Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (CR-HMR), Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, Jewish General Hospital (JGH), Génome Québec Innovation Centre, McGill University, Université de Montréal and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).

Four main projects the MCC will undertake:

  • Project 1: Inter-institutional co-ordination and integration of tissue and clinical data collection from patients treated within the MCC – Co-leads: Drs. Morag Park (GCRC), Anne-Marie Mes-Masson (CHUM), Wilson Miller (JGH), Josée Hebert (HMR) Gerald Batiste (JGH), George Zogopoulos (MUHC)
  • Project 2: Develop a collaborative framework to perform cancer therapy-response integrative profiling – Co-leads: Drs. Ian Watson and Peter Seigel (GCRC), Rejean Lapointe, John Stagg, and Francis Rodier (CHUM)
  • Project 3: Development of novel-pre-clinical treatment strategies to improve immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy and to overcome resistance in melanoma – Co-leads: Drs. John Stagg (CHUM), Wilson Miller (JGH), Christopher Rudd (HMR) and Ian Watson (GCRC)
  • Project 4: Development of new combination therapeutic strategies in leukemia – Co-leads: Drs. Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Lambert Busque, Christopher Rudd (HMR); Sarit Assouline (JGH), Francois Mercier (JGH)

For more information, read the Terry Fox Research Institute press release 

Montreal, June 5, 2018 – The Oncopole is proud to announce, as part of its first EMC2competition, an investment of close to $12M to support seven oncology projects in Quebec. This investment is made possible thanks to an unprecedented collaboration with leading funders, notably the Cancer Research Society, the CQDM and IRICoR. Together, the partners managed to double the Oncopole’s initial budget, an initiative supported by Merck.

A first investment of $1.5M by the Cancer Research Society was announced in February. The CQDM brings $760,704 to co-fund a project through SynergiQc, its program aimed at stimulating industrial research in a university setting in the biopharmaceutical field. The CQDM’s contribution is made possible by the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation du gouvernement du Québec (MESI) through the PSVT 2c program. Finally, IRICoR is supporting two drug discovery projects with a $600,000 contribution.

“The EMC2 competition is an innovative and winning formula for discovering cancer treatments. Carrying out these seven promising projects will result in major breakthroughs in oncology, which will provide additional tools for healthcare professionals, and especially for patients and their family”, points out Gaétan Barrette, Minister of Health and Social Services.

The Oncopole’s EMC2 competition

The Oncopole’s EMC2 competition brings together the expertise and strengths from the Quebec oncology research community and fosters collaboration between disciplines and institutions. Through this initiative, the Oncopole and its partners accelerate the mobilization of Quebec’s key players in order to tackle the public health challenge that cancer represents.

“After one year in existence, we are delighted to announce this major investment that brings forward our mobilizing role, with respect to both the research teams and the funders. We would like to thank our financial partners and congratulate the seven winning teams, whose projects will result in breakthroughs for the benefit of patients,” said Stéphanie Lord-Fontaine, Executive Director of the Oncopole.

Seven projects benefiting from substantial support

Following a competitive process and a thorough assessment of the 36 applications by an independent international peer review committee, seven projects were selected for funding. The teams made up of 61 investigators from 12 Quebec institutions will benefit from considerable financial support to continue their cutting-edge oncology research work.

Developing innovative anti-leukemic vaccines (Claude Perreault, IRIC): The goal of this project is to discover antigens exclusively present on leukemic cells that can elicit a strong immune response.

“We are delighted to partner with the Oncopole to co-fund the Developing innovative anti-leukemic vaccines project, led by Professor Claude Perreault of the IRIC. This research project is based on a unique technology that will result, for the first time, in developing vaccines that specifically target tumors when treating leukemia” explains Diane Gosselin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CQDM.

Optimizing prostate cancer treatments using molecular imaging and targeted radioligand therapy [Brigitte Guérin (CRCHUS), Frédéric Pouliot (CRCHUQc), Jean-Mathieu Beauregard (CRCHUQc)]: This project is aimed at developing new medical imaging tools in order to visualize and better characterize the various metastatic prostate cancer cells and thus, provide patients with better treatment.

Developing new targeted therapies to improve survival of children suffering from leukemias. [Brian Wilhelm (IRIC), Frédéric Barabé (CHUL), Sonia Cellot (CHU Ste-Justine)]: This project consists of identifying new drugs to improve survival rates with respect to high fatality acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in children.

Exploiting the Achilles’ heel of ovarian cancers in order to develop effective treatments [Anne-Marie Mes-Masson (CRCHUM), Francis Rodier (CRCHUM), Jean-Yves Masson (CRCHUQc)]: The goal of this project is to improve the current therapies for ovarian cancer in order to increase survival and quality of life for women who are suffering from it.

“IRICoR is proud to participate in the EMC2 competition, a key initiative involving a common goal: to support Quebec’s innovative oncology projects. Six clinical studies have been initiated on the basis of early projects supported by IRICoR, since it was created 10 years ago. The EMC2 funding program represents a tremendous opportunity to feed the Quebec pipeline with cutting-edge therapeutic solutions” points out Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR.

Targeting cancer stem cells to fight leukemia relapses (Trang Hoang, IRIC):  Leukemic stem cells spared by the current treatment depend on their interactions with a niche for their survival, revealing a vulnerability that this team intends to exploit in order to develop new compounds that prevent relapses following treatment.

Overcoming drug resistance in poor outcome breast cancers [Morag Park (McGill), Michael Pollack (HGJ), Sylvie Mader (IRIC)]: The goal of this project is to develop approaches to target treatment-resistant tumors, or for which no treatment is currently available, and thus reduce mortality.

 Reducing the burden of cancer for patients and the healthcare system: Collaborative governance of the Quebec Cancer Network [Dominique Tremblay (CRHCLM), Nassera Touati (ENAP)]: The purpose of this project is to analyze how, why, by whom, for whom and under what conditions the network’s governance contributes to practices resulting in added-value effects for patients, health professionals and the overall system.

This major collaborative investment promises significant outcomes that will benefit patients in complementary areas such as drug development, optimizing medical devices and improving the organization of cancer care.

“The EMC2 competition is a great example of the possibilities for research collaboration, and we are proud to contribute to it thanks to the unwavering support of our donors. It is by joining the efforts of researchers that we will succeed in outsmarting cancer. And we are convinced that tangible benefits will result from these projects involving some of the best oncology investigators in Quebec” explains Max Fehlmann, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Research Society.