First annual Future of Health Forum focuses on research and innovation in cancer care

Blog September 20, 2019

Posted by Joanna Schlosser

First annual Future of Health Forum focuses on research and innovation in cancer care Featured Image

Accelerate Okanagan, BC Cancer, Interior Health, and The University of British Columbia have joined forces to host an annual forum on the Future of Health.

Designed to foster connection and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas around research and innovation in health, this year’s forum addresses cancer and follows the patient journey from preventing and detecting the disease through to diagnosis and treatment to finding ways to support survivors and a patient’s quality of life.

“Our hope is that we have created an environment where clinical and academic colleagues can share their perspectives on the complex problems facing the health-care system today,” says Dr. Ross Halperin, Regional Medical Director for BC Cancer — Kelowna. “Our strategy is to attract and engage the regional innovation community to assist in developing innovative solutions.”

“We have attracted top talent from across the country to take the stage at this event,” explains Anne-Marie Visockas, VP Research & Planning with Interior Health Authority. “I think this speaks volumes about the collaborative nature of Canadian health care and our community’s reputation for innovation”.

Subject matter experts will explore the current state of cancer care in B.C. and the innovative research that is shaping the future of health in our province. The keynote will be delivered by Dr. Connie Eaves, an international leader in stem cell research and winner of the prestigious 2019 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her paradigm-shifting discoveries and advocacy for early-career scientists and women in science.

“Dr. Eaves is an extraordinarily creative and accomplished biomedical scientist at the forefront of cancer research.  Her work establishing the role of cancer stem cells in breast cancer and leukemia have led to paradigm-shifting insights.” says Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the University of British Columbia.

“She is dedicated to training the next generation of researchers to help find cures for cancer and her research is a superb demonstration of the value of collaborating across disciplines.” 

The closing reception will include a screening of The Nature of Things documentary, Cracking Cancer. This short film recounts the journey of seven cancer patients at BC Cancer as they take part in the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program — a cutting-edge clinical research initiative that is changing the way oncologists view cancer treatment. In the program, oncologists aim to identify and treat cancer-causing genetic mutations specific to each patient.

The POG program is spearheaded by Dr. Janessa Laskin and Dr. Marco Marra at BC Cancer. 

“The strength of our region lies in our ability to collaborate and innovate. This event is another example of these skills at work,” says Brea Lake, Acting CEO at Accelerate Okanagan. “Our hope is that this documentary will give hope to those living with cancer and inspire our innovative and entrepreneurial community to join in building the future of health and cancer care right here in BC.”

For more information on the event, visit

Quick Facts:

  • 1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in B.C. 
  • The number of new cancer cases in B.C. will increase by 57% from 2012 to 2030 as a result of the aging population, growth of the population, and people living longer
  • Approximately, 60% of adults diagnosed with cancer are expected to live at least five years post initial diagnosis

About the Collaborators:

Accelerate Okanagan(AO) is a not-for-profit organization that gives entrepreneurs the mentorship, connections, and community they need to build technology driven ventures.  At Accelerate Okanagan we work with everyone from students to well established companies. Aspiring entrepreneurs, startups, job seekers, career-changers, companies looking to expand and grow, and companies with proven track records come to Accelerate Okanagan to learn and foster their success. Our programs are designed to meet the ever-changing needs of our community. To find out more, or

BC Cancer, part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit

Interior Health ,one of five provincial health authorities, is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and providing health services in a timely, caring, and efficient manner, to the highest professional and quality standards to more than 740,000 people living across B.C.’s vast interior. For more information, visit

UBC Okanagan is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. To find out more, visit:

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