Message from the Chair

Dr. Eduardo Franco Dr. Eduardo Franco
Interim Chair 2011 - 2013
Chair from 2013

In 2011 I took on the role of Interim Chair of the Department of Oncology, one of the most vibrant communities in the Faculty of Medicine.  It is a large department with 149 ranked faculty members and an additional 46 associate members each of whom mobilizes a team of research, clinical and administrative support staff and trainees.

In August 2013 I was named Chair of the Department and in this capacity I have been building on the same vision of “strategic pragmatism” that I have followed since 2011.  In brief, the goal is to derive strength from the existing multi-silo structure of the oncology network at McGill, with its centres and hospital units that have much to gain in maintaining their independence and direct representation in the Faculty of Medicine.  I continue to build on the strengths of this robust network, catalyze the academic and research interactions, nurture the careers of its faculty members, and ensure that the department meets its mission within McGill and provides a useful service to society.

The department’s research activities are broad in scope tackling cancer-related topics in the fields of basic and translational research, medical physics, cancer epidemiology, cancer prevention, cancer genetics, psychosocial oncology and palliative care. In addition, many of the clinicians conduct phase I, II and III oncology clinical research studies managed either through the Department of Oncology-based Clinical Research Program (CRP) or their respective hospital sites.  In 2011 I created a Departmental Mentorship Committee comprised of middle to senior level faculty to help guide junior members as they work to strengthen their academic profile through research, teaching and service initiatives.

The department is also involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education with education programs in palliative care as well as residency training programs in medical, surgical and radiation oncology.  While the department currently does not offer its own undergraduate or graduate level courses, its members teach oncology-related courses and lectures under the auspices of other units in the Faculty and supervise graduate students.  One of my goals as Chair is to enhance the teaching and training profile of the department.  To that end I have created an Education Committee whose mandate is to develop and implement strategies to improve and expand non-medical and medical undergraduate and postgraduate oncology teaching.

Since 2011, the Department of Oncology has been hosting the annual Gerald Bronfman Centre Symposium and Awards Ceremony to (i) honour the support of the Bronfman family; (ii) showcase the research being done to understand cancer at the molecular level, to prevent or treat cancer and to alleviate the patient’s physical and psychological symptoms throughout the cancer trajectory;(iii) honour members of the department who have made outstanding contributions in one of the following categories: Research and Clinical Service, Teaching and Mentorship, Clinical and Research Support, Lifetime Achievement.  The award winners in the first three categories are chosen by the awards committee which I created in 2011. The event takes place in late November/early December and includes a renowned national or international keynote speaker as well as two speakers from the department.  The theme in 2011 was cancer prevention and control with keynote speaker Dr. Simon B. Sutcliffe and Department speakers Drs. Michael Pollak and Michel Tremblay.  In 2012 the theme was basic cancer research with keynote speaker Dr. Ann Chambers and Department speakers Drs. Morag Park and Antonis Koromilas.  In 2013 the theme was psychosocial oncology with keynote speaker Dr. Linda Carlson and Department speakers, Drs. Zeev Rosberger and Carmen Loiselle.

In 2012 I created the Steering Committee for Clinical Research in order to provide support and guidance to the Department’s Clinical Research Program.  I also created the Financial Oversight Committee to provide input as to how the Department can best reduce costs as we navigate the new fiscal realities.

We saw in 2012 the maturity of a revolutionary idea: the Rossy Cancer Network (RCN).  Launched officially at McGill in the summer of 2012 it has become a vibrant force in bringing the quality of cancer care at McGill to the level of the world’s top cancer centres.  The Department of Oncology serves as the hub for the RCN and as a conduit for the numerous academic activities that will link the oncology community to the various work streams in improving cancer care and patient satisfaction.  Lessons are being learned as we continue to make the RCN a reality in close cooperation with our partners at the hospitals.

Eduardo Franco, DrPH, FRSC, FCAHS
James McGill Professor
Minda de Gunzburg Chair in Oncology
Chair, Department of Oncology
Director, Gerald Bronfman Centre for Clinical Research in Oncology