Dr. Connie Eaves

03
Oct 2017
0 Comments

Commemorating the discovery of stem cells

Posted by

A bronze portrait of Drs. James Till and Earnest McCulloch has been placed at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.  Created by artist Ruth Abernathy, she depicts an intense conversation between two colleagues that is interrupted when a friend arrives.  …

A bronze portrait of Drs. James Till and Earnest McCulloch has been placed at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.  Created by artist Ruth Abernathy, she depicts an intense conversation between two colleagues that is interrupted when a friend arrives.  The two scientists turn to greet their friend with warmth. The piece encourages engagement and stools are provided for visitors to join the discussion.

The installation located at the entrance to the West Atrium between the new glass Atrium and The Heritage Building which is an ideal setting for a discovery made 55 years ago that has propelled science forward with the potential to cure devastating diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease amongst others.

There is a sister installation at Science World in Vancouver that was unveiled about a year ago.  Both works were commissioned by Drs. Allen and Connie Eaves who had the privilege to learn from Drs. Till and McCulloch and have gone onto make significant contributions to the field.

Click to read more Close
20
Oct 2016
0 Comments

Celebrating the 55th anniversary of one of Canada’s greatest medical discoveries

Posted by

Fifty-five years ago, Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch identified stem cells and provided the theoretical underpinning for bone marrow transplant procedures that have saved the lives of countless leukemia patients.…

Fifty-five years ago, Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch identified stem cells and provided the theoretical underpinning for bone marrow transplant procedures that have saved the lives of countless leukemia patients. It also opened up the field of stem cell science.

To commemorate the breakthrough, which ranks as one of Canada’s greatest medical discoveries, Science World at TELUS World of Science in Vancouver will unveil a bronze portrait of Drs. Till and McCulloch on Sunday.

“It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Dr. Till and Dr. McCulloch’s discovery and their long-time collaboration,” says, Dr. Allen Eaves, President & CEO of STEMCELL Technologies Inc. that commissioned the work of art. “Their work changed the course of cancer research and paved the way for what we now call regenerative medicine.”

Both Dr. Eaves, who co-founded the Terry Fox Laboratory with the BC Cancer Agency, and his wife, prominent cancer researcher Dr. Connie Eaves, were greatly influenced by Drs. Till and McCulloch during their time at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. Connie was a post-doctoral fellow who worked closely with them and Allen used their methodology in his own cancer research, which led him to set up the first bone marrow transplantation program in Western Canada.

The sculpture was created by renowned artist Ruth Abernethy, whose public portraits in bronze have celebrated the achievements of several prominent Canadians. She is probably best known for her depiction of Glenn Gould sitting on a bench at CBC in Toronto and Oscar Peterson tinkling a piano outside the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. She will attend the unveiling Sunday to talk about her work and sign copies of Life and Bronze: a Sculptor’s Journal.

The accomplishments of Drs. Till and McCulloch are also celebrated in the book Dreams & Due Diligence: Till and McCulloch’s Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy. Author Joe Sornberger will be at the unveiling Sunday to sign copies of his book.  The book is available for purchase on our website by clicking on this link.

The public is welcome to attend the unveiling at Science World at 1455 Quebec Street on Sunday at 1 p.m. Next spring, a sister bronze portrait will be installed at the MaRS Building in downtown Toronto.

Click to read more Close
25
Feb 2015
0 Comments

What is Connie Eaves excited about?

Posted by

Recently, we asked several of Canada’s leading stem cell scientists to tell us about what they think will be the next big thing in regenerative medicine.

Recently, we asked several of Canada’s leading stem cell scientists to tell us about what they think will be the next big thing in regenerative medicine. Where do they see things going? What are they excited about? For today’s instalment, we interviewed Dr. Connie J. Eaves is a Distinguished Scientist at Vancouver’s Terry Fox Laboratory, which she co-founded. A Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, she is world-renowned for her pioneering research in basic blood stem cell biology, which led to new treatments for leukemia. She also isolated breast stem cells and is a leading thinker in the field of breast cancer. Here’s what she’s excited about in 2015.

I was a co-author of a Nature paper in December that was led by Drs. Samuel Aparcio and Sohrab Shah (University of British Columbia) and described the changing genomic composition of breast cancer xenografts — that is fragments of patients’ breast tumours growing in special transplanted mice that have no immune system.  In such mice, many patients’ tumours can grow as if they were still in the patient. You can thus track how the tumour evolves in relation to the original tumour.

This model has significant implications for developing new ways to treat cancer, because you can use the tumours created in the mice to determine which treatments work best and how that compares to the mutations that were present in cells that disappeared and those that may be unique to the cells that proved resistant. Groups all over the world are trying to use this approach, so we’re excited about that.

My lab has another paper in the works that has to do with making human breast tumours starting with normal human breast tissue. We have developed a protocol in which normally discarded breast tissue samples obtained from women undergoing cosmetic surgery are infected with a mutant cancer-causing gene and then produce tumours when transplanted into immunodeficient mice.

The reason this is extraordinarily exciting is because people have been trying to do this this for years with blood cells and it’s been difficult: you can count on one hand the number of different mutant genes (out of many tried) that can produce a leukemia when put into normal human blood-forming cells.  Indeed, this has been very discouraging in the leukemia field.

The idea is, if you could study the early events that cause leukemia or breast cancer, then you would be able to look into the first changes that occur and get a handle on those. You could then look for those changes in a patient’s samples and try to target them specifically.  Since they are the first events, they are likely going to be in every daughter tumour cell in that patient and hence better (more universal) targets.

One of the problems with treating many tumours is their genetic instability, which leads to the genesis of a tremendous diversity of subclones of cells carrying additional new mutations. Thus when you use a treatment strategy that can kill a dominant clone, there may be another 100 subclones that are not eliminated lurking at lower levels that then regrow.  That is why the idea of understanding how a tumour starts to develop from its earliest stages is so captivating.  Being able to do this with human breast tissue was unexpected and opens the door to all sorts of experiments. So we’re very excited about this new line of work.

Click to read more Close
13
Feb 2015
0 Comments

Tricky science made simple, Valentine’s edition

Posted by

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of hearts. And when we think of hearts, we think of their life-sustaining role of pumping blood.…

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of hearts. And when we think of hearts, we think of their life-sustaining role of pumping blood. But where does that blood come from? How does it get made?

A great resource to find answers to those questions and understand the role of stem cells in blood formation is now available. “What is a hematopoietic stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Connie Eaves is the latest video in Stem Cell Shorts series that explains how hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) produce new blood cells.

Contained in the bone marrow, HSCs can produce new blood cells or regenerate the blood production system. In fact, bone marrow transplants have treated patients with a variety of blood cancers and disorders, including multiple myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma for decades.

Dr. Eaves, a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, is a leader in the field of hematopoietic stem cell biology. Her work has led to advances in treatment for leukemia. Currently, she is researching the unique properties of normal and cancerous stem cells in a variety of tissues to improve treatments for breast cancer and leukemia.

The new video, produced by Ben Paylor, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Mike Long, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, is co-sponsored by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation and the Stem Cell Network.

All the videos — including “What is a stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Jim Till, “What are embryonic stem cells?” voiced by Dr. Janet Rossant, “What are induced pluripotent stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Mick Bhatia, “What is stem cell tourism?” voiced by Prof. Timothy Caulfield, “What is a cancer stem cell?” narrated by Dr. John Dick, “What is a retinal stem cell?” voiced by Dr. Derek van der Kooy and “What is a hematopoietic stem cell?”  – are now available on the Foundation’s You Tube channel. Click here to view them.

The final instalment of the series,“What is a neural stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Sam Weiss, will be released soon. Stay tuned!

Click to read more Close
Back to Top