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Salah Mahmud Speaking with colleagues

Salah Mahmud, director of the Vaccine and Drug Evaluation Centre, speaking with colleagues

Preventing cancer: Research into the use of common medicines might help

February 3, 2015 — 

WHAT: February 4th is World Cancer Day. Symbolized under the tagline ‘Not beyond us’, World Cancer Day 2015 takes a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and they are within reach. This year in Canada, an estimated 191,300 new cases of cancer (excluding about 76,100 non-melanoma skin cancers) will develop. That translates into an expected 76,600 deaths in Canada in 2014. The Canadian Cancer Society says about 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes and about a quarter of those will die of the disease.

WHO: Dr. Salah Mahmud is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada Research Chair in Pharmacoepidemiology and Vaccine Evaluation. In 2012 he received the Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Junior Investigator Award.

HIS INSPIRATION: Dr. Mahmud’s motivation stems from a personal account with the disease when he was a child. He says, “One of my first childhood memories was the memory of my grandfather taken out of our family home for the last time because he was dying from bone cancer. He essentially had no effective treatment. That personal memory and what I encounter in my clinic practice is what keeps me going”

HIS GOAL: In July 2014, Dr. Mahmud was also appointed the Director of the Clinical Trials Platform at the George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare and Innovation. Dr. Mahmud is now engaging in high quality, practice-changing, and patient-oriented research to study the effects of commonly used medication such as Aspirin, in the prevention of cancer.

The George and Fay Yee Centre for Health Care Innovation (CHI) believes that the meaningful involvement of the community (including patients, families, friends, caregivers, and members of the public who may not have access to the health care system due to geography or systemic barriers) throughout the entire research process will lead to improved patient outcomes, enhanced patient experiences and improved access to care for Manitobans.

For example, in clinical trials, community involvement will enhance the quality, appropriateness, acceptability, transparency and relevance of research, ensuring it addresses first and foremost issues of importance to patients and the community. Through the Manitoba Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Unit, CHI has been moving the community involvement in health research agenda forward since its inception in 2013, and as part of the establishment of the Manitoba Patients as Research Partners Network, they will host a workshop in April 2015, bringing together members of the community, health care consumers, patient engagement experts, health care providers, decision-makers, and health researchers from across Manitoba to help both inform and launch the development of a provincial engagement strategy.

SUCCESS: With combined funding from the Government of Canada, Government of Manitoba, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Cancer Society and the University of Manitoba, Dr. Mahmud has developed a Canadian Centre of Excellence, the Vaccine and Drug Evaluation Centre. His work looks into how common drugs affect the development and prevention of cancer in large groups of people. Combing through mountains of data using Manitoba’s Health database, Dr. Mahmud’s funding has allowed him to expand his team of researchers to over 20.



FUNDERS: Canada Research Chairs program, Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Manitoba Government, University of Manitoba, Canadian Cancer Society – Manitoba Division






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