To achieve this goal the institute divided its operation into four strands: two of the strands were the research areas - the study of advanced radiation therapy and biology, which worked separatively but cooperatively; a third was patient care; and the fourth element was leadership, provided by the clinical chiefs, the heads of the research divisions, and the administration, in particular the institute's first administrator, John Law. Together these strands helped create a philosophy that made the Ontario Cancer Institute unique and provided the basis for its national and international success. Essential to these successes was a new graduate department, Medical Biophysics, based in the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies. This department, which provided an innovative, research-based doctoral and masters program, meant that the OCI could accurately be described as a centre for cancer treatment, research, and education. McCulloch describes how the first quantitative assay for stem cells played a major role in bringing OCI research to the international stage as well as influencing other science and much of the clinical thinking in the Institute. Other major advances that brought international recognition have been the identification of the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to resist death from the effects of a variety of different tumours and the isolation of the gene that encodes the T cell receptor, a critical part of the immune apparatus for dealing with foreign cells and viruses. McCulloch also details how lack of space to meet growing demands was a continuing source of frustration and disagreement, and how sometimes serious interpersonal problems hindered the forward thrust of development. Describing these events as well as institute's successes, he provides an insight into the history of Canada's premier cancer research centre.
Subjects: Health Sciences
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