Dr François Bénard is the Scientific Director of the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging at the BC Cancer Research Agency. This research program strives to develop new radiopharmaceuticals for cancer diagnosis and characterization as well as find improved methods to predict and monitor tumor response to therapy, using functional imaging tools such as positron emission tomography coupled with computed tomography (PET/CT).
The current research program is supported by research grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. Ongoing projects in the program include the development of radiolabeled peptides to improve breast cancer diagnosis, the optimization of methods for tumor imaging with micro PET/CT, treatment response monitoring to novel therapeutic agents in breast cancer, radiolabelled oligonucleotides for mRNA targeting in vivo, radiolabelled antibodies for HER2/neu targeting in breast cancer and hypoxia imaging in the treatment response evaluation to system therapy in non resectable lung cancers. The Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging also supports several phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials by providing services for PET/CT imaging, involving several key collaborators in medical and radiation oncology from various tumour groups, notably the breast and lymphoma tumour groups. Several other physicians contribute to the Centre of Excellence for Functional Imaging, including Dr Don Wilson (Medical Director), Dr Daniel Worsley and Dr John Powe.
Current key collaborators currently include researchers in the departments of Breast and Molecular Oncology (Dr Sam Aparicio) and Advanced Therapeutics (Dr Donald Yap and Sylvia Ng) at the BC Cancer Research Centre, Dr Urs Hafeli (Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC), Dr Anna Celler (Radiology, UBC), researchers at TRIUMF (Tri-University Meson Facility; Dr Mike Adam and Dr Thomas J Ruth) and at the Université de Sherbrooke (Dr Brigitte Guérin, Dr Roger Lecomte and Dr Eric Turcotte).
The resources available for researchers in Functional Cancer Imaging include a PET/CT scanner (Siemens Biograph 16 Hirez), a small animal PET/CT scanner (Siemens Inveon PET/CT), biology laboratories for receptor-binding and molecular imaging studies. A new facility is under construction to house a new 19 MeV variable energy cyclotron, radiochemistry and cold chemistry laboratories, and eventually a new PET/CT for clinical research. Optical imaging instruments (bioluminescence, fluorescence) are also available at the BC Cancer Research Centre through the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD).