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More than 300,000 Canadians enrolled in multi-decade research initiative to monitor disease trends

Over the past 10 years, more than 300,000 Canadians have volunteered to be part of a program that will track the development of cancers and chronic diseases in the population over several decades to better understand the risk factors.
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The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) is the work of hundreds of Canadian researchers within several regional data-gathering centres, including in British Columbia as part of the BC Generations Project located at BC Cancer. Between 2009 and 2012, BC Generations recruited 30,000 volunteers.

Now a new Canadian Medical Association Journal paper describes how 307,017 participants, aged 30 to 74, have been recruited into the CPTP with informed consent from the general population of eight provinces in Canada. The majority of these participants provided a blood or other type of sample and about a third completed a physical assessment. All the data in the CPTP are de-identified, but it will provide researchers with a platform for assessing the effects of genetics, behaviour, environment and societal factors on health.  

The CPTP research platform was established so that any researcher can submit a proposal to access portions of the data. More than 80 scientific programs have already begun research with CPTP, and received independent funding from national and international funders.

Several studies have already appeared in journals such as Science and Nature Genetics which have discovered new genetic processes associated with disease development. Some scientists are using the cohort to answer questions about why cancer rates vary across the country. For example, BC has much lower rates of certain types of cancers compared to Atlantic Canada.

These types of longitudinal studies can provide powerful information that lead to improving health outcomes. The Nurses Health Study, first established in 1976, was one of the largest-ever cohort studies and it revealed important evidence about and risk factors associated with breast cancer while the Framingham Heart Study provided key information about cardiovascular health. 

BC Generations, funded by BC Cancer Foundation, was initially led by BC Cancer Distinguished Scientist, Dr. Richard Gallagher, who then handed the baton to Dr. John Spinelli, Vice President of Population Oncology at BC Cancer. It is now co-directed by BC Cancer Distinguished Scientist, Dr. Nhu Le, and Dr. Trevor Dummer, Associate Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia and Affiliated Scientist at BC Cancer.

Funding for this program arose as a partnership across many national and provincial organizations including the BC Cancer Foundation, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Heart and Stroke Canada, Genome Quebec, Ministère de l'Économie, de la Science et de l'Innovation, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Innovation. 

More information about the CPTP and its regional partners (BC Generations, Atlantic Path, CARTaGENE, Ontario Health Study and the Alberta Tomorrow Project) and details about accessing the data can be found at:

Media inquiries:

Kevin Sauve
Communications Officer, BC Cancer
Provincial Health Services Authority
PHSA media line: 778-867-7472

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