August 23, 2011
Dr. Rayjean Hung, Lunenfeld Principal Investigator and leading cancer epidemiologist working within the Prosserman Centre for Health Research, has received an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
The award will enable Dr. Hung to further her research into Wilms tumours—a rare type of kidney cancer that affects young children.
“This award will help me to establish a research team for etiological studies on Wilms tumours. The results of these studies will help us understand why and how the illness occurs in children, leading to better prevention and treatment strategies,” said Dr. Hung.
Recruited to the Lunenfeld from the renowned International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France in 2007, Dr. Hung is renowned for her work in cancer epidemiology. The international scope of her work allows Dr. Hung to provide scientists in Ontario with an important link to cancer research worldwide, and brings renewed attention to the study of cancer being done in the province.
Dr. Hung made headlines in 2008 for her role in an international study that uncovered, for the first time, an important genetic region associated with lung cancer risk. The study demonstrated that chromosome 15 is associated with lung cancer, which provided new clues on how smoking tobacco can cause this cancer.
Dr. Hung and her team are engaged in various projects studying tobacco-related and childhood cancers, providing insights into primary and secondary prevention. She is involved in studies of a number of smoking-related cancers including cancers of the lung, head, neck, and pancreas. Her current childhood cancer research focuses on embryonal tumours that result in cancers such as Wilms tumours and neuroblastoma (cancers that develop from nervous tissue).
The Ontario government is providing $10 million to support 71 emerging researchers and their teams at 19 institutions across Ontario through the Early Researcher Awards program. Lead researchers receive up to $140,000 through the program. The Early Researcher Award program helps Ontario scientists build their research teams of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians. The goal of the program is to improve Ontario’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent.