Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Established 2005
Research Type Translational
Field of Research Genomics, Bioinformatics, Medicinal Chemistry, Imaging, Cancer Stem Cells, Immuno- and Bio-therapies, Clinical Trials, Health Services Research
Director Thomas J. Hudson
Staff 200
Address 101 College Street
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Affiliations Cancer Care Ontario, Terry Fox Research Institute, Pfizer Global Research, GE Health Care, International Cancer Genome Consortium, Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, NCIC Clinical Trials Group
Website www.oicr.on.ca

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that focuses on the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer[1]. OICR intends to make Ontario more effective in knowledge transfer and commercialization while maximizing the health and economic benefits of research findings for the people of Ontario[2]. OICR was launched in 2005 by the Government of Ontario, which provides funding through the Ministry of Research and Innovation. The Institute employs more than 200 people at its research hub at the MaRS Centre in downtown Toronto and funds more than 300 scientific staff at hospital-based research institutes and universities around the province.



Ontario Cancer Research Network

OICR’s predecessor organization was the Ontario Cancer Research Network (OCRN), a not-for-profit corporation established by the Government of Ontario in November 2001 to increase translational research related to the development of new cancer therapies. OCRN’s four main program areas were: the Ontario Tumour Bank, Clinical Trials Programs, the Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board and the Cancer Research Fund. The organization was headed by Robert A. Phillips, PhD. All of OCRN’s programs continue to function within OICR.

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

In May 2005 the Government of Ontario announced its intent to launch a new cancer research institute in the province. OCRN was asked to evolve into the new institute, which would later be named OICR. OICR was formally launched by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in December 2005 [3]. OICR was designed to continue OCRN’s translational research programs while building new research capacity in the province[4]. Thomas J. Hudson, MD was appointed President and Scientific Director of OICR in June 2006[5] and Robert A. Phillips was appointed Deputy Director. Dr. Hudson consulted with the Ontario cancer research community and external experts to develop a strategic research plan for the institute in 2006. In February 2007 the completed strategic plan was approved by the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

In its first five years, OICR focused on creating or enhancing existing cancer research infrastructure in Ontario, recruiting outstanding scientists to the province and launching new programs and technology platforms to establish the foundation necessary to build translational research and commercialization within the province. Robert A. Phillips retired as Deputy Director in 2009. The current Deputy Director of OICR is Nicole Onetto, MD.

Research Programs and Platforms

Innovation Programs

Technology Platforms

  • The Imaging Pipeline Platform
  • Transformative Pathology Platform
  • Genome Technologies Platform
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Informatics and Bio-computing

Translation Programs

  • The High Impact Clinical Trials Program
  • The Health Services Research Program
  • The Patents to Products (Commercialization) Program

Other Programs

OICR Leaders

  • Rima Al-awar, PhD – Platform Director, Medicinal Chemistry
  • John Bartlett, PhD - Platform Director, Transformative Pathology
  • John Bell, PhD – Program Leader, Immuno- and Bio-therapies
  • Janet Dancey, MD – Program Leader, High Impact Clinical Trials
  • John Dick, PhD – Program Leader, Cancer Stem Cells
  • Craig Earle, MD – Program Leader, Health Services Research
  • Aaron Fenster, PhD - Platform Leader, Imaging Pipeline Platform
  • Thomas J. Hudson, MD - President and Scientific Director, OICR
  • John McPherson, PhD – Platform Leader, Genome Technologies
  • Michele Noble, MBA – Corporate Secretary, OICR
  • Nicole Onetto, PhD – Deputy Director, OICR
  • Lyle Palmer, PhD – Program Leader, Ontario Health Study
  • Robert Rottapel, MD – Program Leader, Selective Therapies Program
  • Lincoln Stein, PhD – Platform Leader, Informatics and Bio-computing
  • Frank Stonebanks, MBA - Vice-President, Commercialization and Chief Commercial Officer, Patents to Products (Commercialization) Program
  • Jane van Alphen, BScN, MBA, Vice-President, Operations, OICR
  • Martin Yaffe, PhD - Program Leader, One Millimetre Cancer Challenge


OICR occupies three labs and more than 56,331 square feet (5,233.3 m2) of space in the MaRS Centre in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Discovery District, the MaRS Centre’s neighbours include the University of Toronto, the Provincial Legislature, University Health Network (including Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto General Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute), The Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital. It is also located just north of Toronto’s financial district. OICR funds research in other affiliated labs and institutions located in Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Waterloo.


  1. ^ OICR website
  2. ^ Ministry of Research and Innovation
  4. ^ Ministry of Research and Innovation
  5. ^ Has Ontario found 'THE NEW MESSIAH' of cancer research? Globe and Mail, November 13, 2006

Coordinates: 43°39′35.29″N 79°23′20.08″W / 43.6598028°N 79.3889111°W / 43.6598028; -79.3889111

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