News Release – October 14, 2009
Vancouver – Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency announced today an ambitious goal to recruit 40,000 British Columbians to participate in the largest health research project ever conducted in this province. All BC residents aged 40 to 69 are eligible to join.
The BC Generations Project will help researchers learn more about how environmental exposures, lifestyle and genetic makeup contribute to the development of cancer and other chronic diseases. It’s part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow, a 30-year pan-Canadian study to collect health information and biological samples from 300,000 Canadians.
This massive collection will form a high quality, highly-secure data pool that can be used in cancer research studies for decades. And because many of the risk factors for cancer are also risk factors for other diseases, the project will also benefit approved research into the causes of chronic illnesses such as heart and lung disease or diabetes.
“By studying many people from all walks of life, we’ll have a powerful tool for pinpointing the factors that contribute to cancer and chronic diseases among British Columbians,” said Richard Gallagher, Principal Investigator of the BC Generations Project and Head of the Cancer Control Research Program at the BC Cancer Agency. “This new knowledge will guide our efforts to protect future generations from these devastating diseases.”
The success of the Project depends on the generosity of British Columbians to commit 90 minutes to attend a BC Generations Assessment clinic. Participants are asked to complete a questionnaire about their health and lifestyle, have various physical measurements taken, and provide a blood and urine sample.
The Project aims to recruit 40,000 participants over the next few years. An assessment clinic is currently operating in Vancouver, and a Victoria-area assessment clinic will open next year. The Project is also piloting a mobile assessment van to visit locations throughout the province.
The BC Generations Project maintains stringent protocols around participant confidentiality and access to information. The Project enlisted former BC Privacy Commissioner David Flaherty to assess all aspects of its practices and systems. “I think British Columbians can feel good about participating in the BC Generations Project, with confidence that their personal health information will be kept private and secure,” he said. In fact, Flaherty intends to join as a participant when the Victoria assessment clinic opens.
In Vancouver, participant Jane Marr explained her reasons for joining the BC Generations Project: “As someone with longevity in my family, I’m very excited about the prospects of this research helping others achieve the same. I’m especially interested in environmental influences on disease, and would love to have my children and grandchildren benefit from this research.” Marr has also recruited some of her friends to become participants. “We all feel strongly about disease prevention.”
It doesn’t matter whether participants are healthy, or have illnesses or disabilities. “We encourage all BC residents 40 to 69 to consider joining the BC Generations Project – and to tell their friends and family about this important initiative,” said Gallagher.
“Cancer touches everyone and is a complicated set of diseases,” said Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice-President of Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer – the study funder. “By using modern data collection and exposure measurements – and focusing on environmental and lifestyle risk factors – this study will make a major contribution to worldwide cancer research. This is the gold standard of studies.”
The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer has committed $6.1 million to the BC Generations Project. The Project is also supported by the BC Cancer Agency, the BC Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, and the BC Lung Association. The Director of the BC Generations Project is Dr. Marilyn Borugian, a senior scientist at the BC Cancer Agency.
To learn more or to sign up for the BC Generations Project, please visit bcgen-2017-10.dev, or call 604-675-8221 or toll-free 1-877-675-8221.