University of Calgary

Cancer scientist appointed to direct national research initiative

UToday HomeJune 18, 2013

Dr. Stephen RobbinsDr. Stephen RobbinsA University of Calgary cancer researcher has been appointed by one of Canada’s top healthcare institutes to help lead a research initiative aimed at delivering a more personalized approach to healthcare for Canadians.

Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), announced the appointment of Dr. Stephen Robbins as incoming scientific director of CIHR’s Institute of Cancer Research.

“His excellent reputation in the field of oncology, recognized leadership in translational research and commitment to teaching excellence will be invaluable in advancing the work of the Institute and of the CIHR Personalized Medicine Signature Initiative in this next phase of their evolution,” Beaudet said.

Robbins is an associate professor in the departments of Oncology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Calgary, as well as the director of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, one of seven institutes within the Faculty of Medicine.

He is currently a scientist of Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and the associate director research for Alberta Health Services Cancer Care, as well as former Canada Research Chair. He joined the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary in 1996 after training at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Dr. J. Michael Bishop.

Robbins’ research activities include deciphering how extracellular signals are recognized by cells to control cellular proliferation and differentiation. During his research career, he favoured a more translational approach, which led to defining new therapies for malaria, the discovery of a novel class of anti-inflammatory agents and new therapeutic targets for brain tumours. He has also developed and fostered the use of the Microarray Technology to define molecular blueprints of various childhood cancers.

“I am very honoured to be the new scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Cancer Research and look forward to fostering and promoting innovative research across all aspects of the cancer care continuum from prevention to treatment to survivorship,” said Robbins.

In addition to maintaining a productive research program, Robbins is also committed to teaching. He has won several awards and distinctions for outstanding teaching, including the 1999 and 2002 Watanabe Award for Overall Excellence, as well as the 2003 McLeod Award for Excellence in Teaching with the Faculty of Medicine.

“We are thrilled that one of our scientists has been recognized for his outstanding research in the field of oncology and is now leading a Canadian initiative,” said Ed McCauley, vice-president (research) at the University of Calgary. “Dr. Robbins is an ongoing, daily contributor of our Eyes High vision of becoming a top-five research institution. His experience and leadership will help the University of Calgary contribute to cancer research on a national scale."

The CIHR is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.