Department of Oncology

Chair's Message

Welcome to the Department of Oncology, University of Alberta

 

Facts and Figures

Of Canada’s 17 medical schools, only 7 have an academic department that includes all of the medical and scientific faculty, staff and trainees dedicated to patient care, teaching and research in oncology. Our Department, the fourth largest in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and located at three sites on the University of Alberta campus, is comprised of 7 Divisions and 1 School and includes 9 administrative staff, ~220 academic appointments: 90 academic faculty, 45 clinical faculty, 13 emeritus professors and 70 adjunct professors.

 

Our leadership

In addition to the Department Chair, we have an Associate Chair (Graduate Education) Dr. Alan Underhill, and an Assistant Chair (Administration) Cynthia Henderson. The Joint Executive and Division Director (JEDD) committee functions as the Department’s decision making body and also serves as our Departmental Evaluation Committee (DEC). In 2019-2020 we plan to introduce three new leadership positions, with Associate Chairs each for Clinical Affairs, Research and Education.

 

Our academic Divisions and the School of Radiation Therapy

The Department of Oncology consists of the School of Radiation Therapy (Director: Susan Fawcett) and the following 7 Divisions (Directors): Experimental Oncology* (Dr. Roseline Godbout), Medical Oncology* (Dr. Scott North), Medical Physics* (Dr. Gino Fallone), Oncologic Imaging (Dr. Frank Wuest), Palliative Care Medicine* (Dr. Sharon Watanabe), Radiation Oncology* (Dr. Wilson Roa), and Surgical Oncology (Dr. Todd McMullen). Within the Cross Cancer Institute, several of these academic divisions (denoted by an asterisk) also comprise hospital departments. The Division of Oncologic Imaging is unique to the University of Alberta.

 

Our training programs

The Department is very active in the training of graduate students, medical residents, summer and undergraduate students, medical students, clinical fellows and postdoctoral fellows across the spectrum of disciplines related to Oncology.

 

The School of Radiation Therapy accredited radiation therapy program (RADTH) is one of only a handful in Canada sponsored by a medical school. We have Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) accredited residency training programs in Medical Oncology (Program Director: Dr. Sanraj Basi) and Radiation Oncology (Program Director: Dr. Brock Debenham), College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP) accredited training in Palliative Care (Certificate of Added Competence; Program Director: Dr. Sarah Burton-MacLeod) with subspecialty certification through the RCPSC (pending approval), and the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) accredited graduate student and residency training programs in Medical Physics (Therapy, Imaging: Diagnostic and Nuclear Medicine; Program Director: Dr. Gino Fallone). Furthermore, we offer specialized fellowships in Medical Oncology (Program Director: Dr. Jennifer Spratlin; eg. Phase I/Developmental Therapeutics), Radiation Oncology (Program Director: Dr. Rufus Scrimger; eg. brachytherapy, SBRT) and Palliative Care Medicine (Program Director: Dr. Sharon Watanabe). Our Medical Oncology subspecialty residency training program was among the first in Canada to adopt the RCPSC Competence by Design (CBD) framework.

 

Experimental Oncology provides formal graduate student and postdoctoral training in cancer research spanning the spectrum from discovery-based to translational research. Graduate students are accepted through the Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research (FGSR) approved graduate training program in Cancer Sciences (Program Director: Dr. Mary Hitt) with an average of 35-45 students enrolled in M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree programs.

 

Our facilities

The Department’s offices and the majority of its clinical and research training programs are located at the Cross Cancer Institute, an Alberta Health Services CancerControl tertiary-care comprehensive cancer centre, one of only two in the Province of Alberta. The School of Radiation Therapy is located at the University Terrace Building and has a state of the art Radiation Therapy Training Suite which houses a TrueBeam linear accelerator equipped with objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) capabilities. Several of our investigators and staff in the Division of Imaging Oncology work at the Medical Isotope Cyclotron Facility (MICF) encompassing a TR24 Cyclotron and a radiopharmaceutical GMP manufacturing facility located at the University of Alberta’s South Campus. Our Experimental Oncology research laboratories are located at the Cross Cancer Institute and at the Katz Group Centre (5th floor) adjacent to the Medical Sciences Building.

 

Within these four sites, the Department has state-of-the art infrastructure, including the Cell Imaging Facility (Manager Dr. Xuejun Sun) that serves as a core facility for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, an Image Guided Small Animal Irradiator, a high field human and ultra-high field animal MRI-MRS  systems (Scientific Director Dr. Gino Fallone), the VERTTM flight simulator for radiation therapy education, and Canada’s third combined PET/MRI instrument for patient diagnosis. Our trainees and faculty also work very closely with the Cross Cancer Institute’s Clinical Trials Unit (Medical Director: Dr. John Mackey), including participation in impactful and practice changing clinical trials and the opportunity to develop their own investigator-initiated trials. Training in Palliative Care Medicine occurs in the full range of health care settings in Edmonton, including our acute and chronic care institutions.

 

Our people

We have outstanding clinicians, educators and researchers in the Department of Oncology who are dedicated to improving diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer and related disorders. Some of our scientists and clinician-scientists hold endowed chairs funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation (ACF), some in partnership with philanthropic donors. The ACF chairs held by faculty in the Department of Oncology include: the ACF Chair in Palliative Care Medicine (Dr. Vickie Baracos), the Allard Research Chair in Experimental Oncology (Dr. Jack Tuszynski), the Dianne & Irving Kipnes Chair in Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (Dr. Frank Wuest), the Frank & Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research (Dr. John Lewis), the Mary Johnston Chair in Melanoma Research (vacant), and the Sawin-Baldwin Chair in Ovarian Cancer (Dr. Lynne Postovit). Other endowed chairs held in the Department of Oncology include the Dr. Anthony Noujaim Legacy Oncology Chair (Dr. Lynne Postovit), the Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Translational Chair in Cancer (Dr. Lynne Postovit) and the Muriel & Ada Hole Kids with Cancer Society Chair in Pediatric Oncology (Dr. David Eisenstat).

 

Our research

Throughout the Department of Oncology, we have funded projects and programs that cover the entire research spectrum from discovery and innovation, through to translational and clinical research and clinical trials. There is a significant emphasis on precision medicine. A few highlights amongst many include the following: (1) Our clinical trials unit (CTU) is a leader in patient accrual in North America and is closely linked to the Pre-Phase 1 program at the University of Alberta. (2) Investigators in the Division of Medical Physics have developed a Linac/MR machine that was the first worldwide and unique in its integrated image capture and treatment delivery to the patient. (3) Our Oncologic Imaging team have designed novel radiotracers that can be used for both diagnosis and therapy (theranostics). (4) Our Cell Imaging facility was recently awarded a large CFI infrastructure grant to ensure that our researchers have direct access to advanced microscopy and digital imaging equipment. (5) Palliative Care Medicine faculty are international leaders in symptom assessment and cancer cachexia research.

 

Our partners

Our faculty and programs in research and education of the Department of Oncology receive tremendous support from our partners, including AHS, CancerControl Alberta and the ACF. Furthermore, since its inception in 2014, members of the Department play an important role in the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta (CRINA) and one of our faculty, Dr. Lynne Postovit, continues to serve as the inaugural co-director.

 

Our history

The Department celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2018, the same year our partner institution, the Cross Cancer Institute, celebrated its 50th anniversary! It is a privilege to serve as the Department of Oncology’s fourth Chair, following Drs. Tony Fields (Acting Chair, 1993-1996), Carol Cass (1996-2007) and AJB (Sandy) McEwan (2007-2017) who continue to provide visionary leadership and guidance.

 

I encourage you to tour our web-site and consider joining one of our educational programs or research teams.

 

With best wishes,

 

David Eisenstat

 

David D. Eisenstat, MD, MA, FRCPC

Professor and Chair