New lab at Brandon University aids fight against breast cancer

A large group of people stand in a laboratory with pink walls
Brandon University Breast Cancer Cell & Molecular Research Laboratory team members are joined by guests at Wednesday's grand opening ceremony.

A state-of-the-art new lab at Brandon University (BU) houses a research team working to save lives through early detection of breast cancer.

Researchers, supporters and members of the community gathered for the grand opening of the BU Breast Cancer Cell & Molecular Research Laboratory (BCCMRL) on Wednesday in BU’s John R. Brodie Science Centre. The lab is led by Dr. Mousumi Majumder, Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology at BU. Dr. Majumder and her team aim to develop a highly sensitive blood test capable of spotting breast cancer early in its development.

A woman cuts a Brandon University ribbon with a large pair of scissors
Dr. Mousumi Majumder, Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology at BU, cuts a ribbon at the opening ceremony.

“Current treatments can save up to 98 per cent of women with breast cancer if the disease is detected early enough,” said Dr. Majumder. “Our goal is to develop tests that can catch breast cancer earlier and using less invasive methods than current diagnostical tests. In addition to the enormous benefits of spotting cancer earlier, this will also mean less discomfort and hardship for women who are at high risk of breast cancer.”

Majumder and her team are focusing on markers that are linked with breast cancer and can be spotted through a simple blood test.

The BCCMRL will facilitate that work with 1,000 square feet of research space, allowing up to 20 researchers and students to produce high-quality data and publish peer-reviewed scientific articles. The creation of the lab was made possible through the generous support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Research Manitoba and VWR International (Avantor).

“Developing a blood test that will enable the early detection of breast cancer will be an important step toward saving lives not only across this country but around the world,” said Roseann O’Reilly Runte, CFI President and Chief Executive Officer. “This very meaningful work offers much hope for the future treatment of cancer once detected in the earliest stages.”

“Through investments in infrastructure like the BCCMRL, we can support important research focused on finding ways to detect breast cancer earlier and ultimately save lives,” said Karen Dunlop, CEO of Research Manitoba. “At the same time, we are laying the foundations to attract, train and retain the best and brightest researchers to Manitoba.”

The BCCMRL attracts national and international funding and facilitates new research partnerships provincially, nationally and internationally. Dr. Majumder has received more than $2.5 million in external funding for her research program, including $830,400 from a Vancouver-based foundation. She holds a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant and a grant from the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, which has highlighted her work as part of a national information campaign.

A man and a woman remove a cover from a plaque mounted on a wall.
Dr. Kofi Campbell, Brandon University’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic), left, joins Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology, Dr. Mousumi Majumder, in unveiling a plaque outside the new lab.

“We’re all excited by the promising results of Dr. Majumder’s research and the prospect of a new tool in the struggle against this devastating disease,” said Dr. Kofi Campbell, BU’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “I can only imagine what great discoveries are yet to come from this new lab and the support from so many partners with a common goal.”

Dr. Majumder’s research has also provided tremendous opportunities for her student trainees, who have received several scholarships and awards from Canada’s Tri-Agency research bodies and other organizations.

“Several BU students have benefitted greatly from the ability to learn from a brilliant researcher on a project that is of vital significance to many of us,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, Associate Vice-President (Research) at BU. “The opportunity to take part in research of this magnitude is giving these students a tremendous kick-start to their academic careers, and having a first-class facility in which to work will accelerate their research development and expertise.”


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