The Doctors of BC Terry Fox Medal is awarded to outstanding individuals who have a track record of making a difference in cancer care. It is our pleasure to share that Dr. Dixie L. Mager, distinguished scientist emeritus at the Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Research Institute, is the recipient of this year’s prestigious award.
A trailblazer whose research has long been ahead of its time, Dr. Mager has pushed the boundaries of our knowledge of normal and diseased molecular biology. Dr. Mager has dedicated her career to broadening our understanding of leukemias, solid tumours and normal development, as well as training generations of researchers and clinicians who continue scientific and medical discoveries in academia, clinic and industry.
Significantly, the impact of her work goes beyond a single disease and has informed our understanding of genomics and gene dysregulation in malignancies. Dr. Mager’s research and discoveries have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms of chromosomal anomalies that are recurrent in most cancers as well as the effect of epigenetic changes on the genome, with implications on cancer treatment. Her work on complex gene regulation has furthered our understanding of how immune cells function and how they can be manipulated to potentially target cancer cells.
Dr. Mager is a collaborator, who has worked with clinicians and scientists across fields on acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, lymphoma and colorectal cancers. She has also generated and contributed to publicly available catalogues and databases that benefit the wider scientific community.
Throughout her long and impressive career, Dr. Mager has published 12 book chapters, 160 abstracts and more than 140 manuscripts including publications in high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics, Cell Stem Cell, PNAS, PLoS Genetics and more.
She obtained her PhD at the University of Toronto in 1980, under the supervision of Dr. Alan Bernstein, one of the most renowned contemporary Canadian scientists, studying the mechanisms of erythroleukemia development. There, she also collaborated with Dr. Tak Mak to show clonal heterogeneity in erythroleukemia, with implications on our current understanding of cancer complexity and relapse.
As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Mager worked with Nobel laureate Dr. Oliver Smithies, on discoveries that provided early glimpses of human genome complexity. She built upon this work further after establishing her independent research group in 1985 at BC Cancer’s Terry Fox Laboratory, focusing on elucidating the effects of mobile DNA on normal and malignant biological processes.
Beyond her scientific achievements, Dr. Mager has dedicated herself to teaching and mentoring, having been a faculty member at the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Department of Medical Genetics since 1986. She has directly supervised numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and undergraduate students. Since her retirement in 2020, Dr. Mager continues to mentor students at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, especially in the Medical Genetics and Interdisciplinary Oncology program at BC Cancer. She is active in the recruitment and mentoring of new career researchers and reviews scholarship and fellowship applications.
Congratulations, Dr. Mager, on receiving this year’s Doctors of BC Terry Fox Medal.
Dr. Dixie L. Mager receiving the Doctors of BC Terry Fox Medal from Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president, Doctors of BC, at the 2022 BC Cancer Summit.
The Terry Fox Medal recognizes individuals conducting clinical practice, research, or teaching/education who have achieved national or international recognition based on the following:
• a distinguished career of achievement in their area of focus;
• a seminal advance through the conduct of their endeavors;
• advancement in the conduct of cancer medicine and cancer control.