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Morag Park, Ph. D.

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Morag Park, Ph. D.
Morag Park, Ph. D. Full Professor Departments of Biochemistry, Medicine and Oncology, McGill University

Bio

  • Diane and Sal Guerrera Chair in Cancer Genetics
  • Director, Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre

Dr. Morag Park joined McGill University in 1989 and is now a professor at its Departments of Biochemistry, Medicine and Oncology. She is a fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, a James-McGill professor and holds the Diane and Sal Guerrera Chair in Cancer Genetics at McGill University. Dr. Park received a master’s degree with first class honours from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1978, her doctorate in Viral carcinogenesis from the Medical Research Council Virology Institute in Scotland, in 1983, and completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institutes for Cancer Research in Washington, DC, USA, in 1988. She joined the Ludwig Cancer Institute at McGill University in 1988. She was Director of the Molecular Oncology Group at the McGill University Hospital Centre from 2006 to 2008, Scientific Director of the Institute of Cancer Research for the CIHR from 2008 to 2013, co-chair of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance from 2008 to 2010, and has been Director of the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre from 2013 until now. Dr. Park is a research leader in the field of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and mechanisms of oncogenic activation of RTKs in human cancers. She exerted leadership in the study of breast cancer microenvironment. She established the Breast Cancer Functional Genomics Group (1999) and the breast tissue bank at McGill University and is a member of the scientific board of the provincial Cancer Research Network as well as a member of the Advisory Council for Research for the Canadian Cancer Society. She is the chair of the Tumour Microenvironment Network of the American Association for Cancer Research (2015-2017). She has had more than 190 of her papers published in top-ranked journals.

Why Choosing Breast Cancer?

She became interested in breast cancer because of the impact that it has on the lives of many women and their families. The high prevalence of breast cancer, 1 in 9 women, and the relatively young age of many women who are affected by breast cancer, makes this cancer an important research challenge over other types of cancer. The development of excellent breast cancer preclinical models and the ability to study human tumour tissues through extensive tumour banks allows us to gain a new understanding of the disease, to focus on why some tumours fail to respond to treatment, and to thus set the goal to develop new therapeutic strategies.

A Scientific Accomplishment You Are Proud of

Using the breast tissue bank supported by the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation we were the first to perform a large study comparing the tumour cells to the normal cells that surround and support the growth of the tumour known as stroma. This was one of the first studies to demonstrate that changes in the breast cancer stroma/microenvironment are strongly correlated with disease outcome. From this work, we developed a predictive signature for patient outcome. This study was recognized as one of the Top 10 Discoveries in Québec in 2008.

Research Focus

  • Cancer biology
  • Etiology (causes)
  • Prevention
  • Screening, diagnosis, or prognosis
  • Treatments
  • Oncopsychology
  • The development of scientific models
  • Other

Distinctions

2002 – William Dawson Scholar, McGill University.
2004 – Jeanne Manery-Fisher Memorial Lecturer, Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences
2006 – James McGill Professor McGill University
2007 – Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada
2014 – Chair of the American Association for Cancer Research Tumor Microenvironment Network
2015 – Canadian Cancer Research Alliance Award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research

Projects Funded by the Foundation

1999 – Breast tumour functional genomics group
2002 – New molecular methods for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment
2008 – Gene expression and phenotypic characterization of circulating tumor cells: Towards an understanding of the seeds of metastasis
2014 – High-throughput in vitro and in silico platforms to target codependencies between stroma and tumours