The Institut du cancer de Montréal is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support fundamental and clinical research while preparing the next generation of cancer researchers through education and training.
The Institut du cancer de Montréal (Institut) was the first francophone cancer research institute in North America. The Institut was founded in 1947 by the pathologist Louis-Charles Simard and his fellow gastroenterologist Antonio Cantero. These two doctors from the Hôpital Notre-Dame formed a collaboration in order to better understand a disease they had been diagnosing with increasing frequency: cancer. Although the Institut is independent, it originally operated out of the Hôpital Notre-Dame, benefiting from a modern hospital environment. Several years later, in order to better serve its mission of educating young researchers, the Institut joined the Université de Montréal.
In the following decades, the Institut continued to refine its missions. The researchers of the Institut went on to attain international attention under the banner of “The Montreal Group” when the prestigious journal Cancer Research dedicated its editorial to the teams work. This recognition consolidated and rewarded the team’s effort and encouraged the Institut to continue its training program.
In 1994, the Institut and the Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital Notre-Dame came together in order to create the Centre de recherche Louis-Charles Simard. This new entity took over the administrative responsibilities of the research activities. The Institut, now a foundation, shifted its aims towards fundraising in order to finance research and training in oncology.
In 1995, following a major fundraising campaign organized jointly with the Hôpital Notre-Dame, the J.A. de Sève pavilion was built to house research laboratories and the Institut’s administrative offices.
The Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), which brought together multiple hospitals including the Hôpital Notre-Dame, was founded in 1996. The Institut took advantage of this situation in order to establish connections with this new entity. Under an agreement between the CHUM and theInstitut, the CHUM extended its financial support to all researchers in the cancer axis of the Centre de Recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM). The researchers became members of the Institut who actively participate in the Science Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Board of Directors of the Institut on all matters relating to program funding.
Continually confronted by the many changes in the field of health, the Institut du cancer de Montréal has continued to reinvent itself in order to adapt to the ever changing needs of the times. As a result, it has always kept the missions that underpinned its creation intact: encouraging excellence in research and training in the field of cancer.
50 years: In 1997, in order to celebrate the Institut’s 50th anniversary, a major fundraising campaign was undertaken under the honorary presidency of Mrs. Andrée Simard-Bourassa. The resulting funds are now known at the “Fonds Robert-Bourassa pour la recherche sur le cancer”, in honour of the former Premier of Quebec who was treated by medical researchers of the Institut. Mr. Bourassa’s former colleagues and collaborators helped organize the fundraiser as part of the campaign cabinet, chaired by Mr. Pierre Fortier, who went on to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institut.
60 years: In 2007, in order to celebrate the Institut’s 60th anniversary, another major fundraising campaign was launched under the presidency of Mr. Raymond Garneau. Mr. Pierre Lortie was asked to chair the campaign for the creation of the “Reverse the Brain Drain” funds. This program’s objective was to financially support the repatriation of young researchers who had completed their university studies in Canada but left the country to pursue their careers. In order to maintain these funds, the “Casino contre le Cancer” fundraiser was created, which continues to contribute to this program since its establishment in 2009.
In November 2013, the Institut and its researchers relocated to the newly built CRCHUM. This center is equipped with spacious laboratories and cutting-edge services and equipment making it an ideal scientific workspace.
In addition to advancing their cancer research projects, all Institut researchers devote a significant portion of their time to training the next generation. The Institut assists them in this role by, for example, providing research grants, scholarships, and subsidizing specific programs such as the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment, organization and the funding of a series of scientific conferences, "science days" and training workshops. All these actions are the means used by the Institut to facilitate the work of its researchers to help them advance research.