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The Centre acts as a focus for prostate research and treatment activities throughout the Province.

At its core is the physical plant, which is located at the Vancouver General Hospital, and home to 9 principal investigators who oversee the largest concentration of prostate-specific research and treatment programs in the province.

The attached flow chart outlines some of the existing appointments, collaborations and partnerships which make up the "virtual component" of the Centre.With a state-of-the-art facility at its heart and an ever-growing network of partnerships, the Centre is able to draw on expertise from a wide range of disciplines to enhance its programs.

Research and Treatment Facilities

Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre (VHHSC) is western Canada's largest hospital and is the major teaching hospital affiliated with the University of British Columbia.  Part of the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, it serves patient needs ranging from community outreach programs for the citizens of Vancouver to specialized tertiary service for the people of British Columbia.

The Prostate Research Laboratory currently occupies over 10,000 square feet of space in the Jack Bell Research Centre.  It now occupies both the 2nd and 3rd floors at the JBRC and we are planning further expansion within the next three years to accommodate newly recruited scientific staff and their teams. The clinical research and care facility is currently in the Heather Pavilion on D floor, but will be expanding into the new ambulatory centre to be constructed on the VGH Campus (completion projected for 2004).  The Education and Resource Centre is located in Heather Pavilion, C floor and will also be moving into the new ambulatory centre, to provide a central resource for prostate cancer patients and their families.

Laboratory Research at the Jack Bell Research Centre


The focus of our laboratory activities is to understand the changes in cells that lead to both the development of prostate cancer and its spread throughout the body. The research encompasses the effects of environmental factors on prostate disease, the identification and targeting of genes critical to the progression of the disease, the development of new drug and gene therapies and, most recently, the development and refinement of advanced diagnostic techniques and research into complementary and alternative medicines.

Our research is linked to a human prostate tissue bank with a database which documents treatment outcomes and survival rates. This invaluable resource allows researchers to test hundreds of human samples as well as numerous animal models and cultured cells. The bank will continue to be sustained because of the close links between the research lab and our surgical scientists.

The Laboratory boasts the latest in technologies and is home to BC's only fully operational Gene Array Facility for functional genomics and bioinformatics. Currently there are seven senior scientists - Dr. Paul Rennie, Dr. Martin Gleave, Dr. Colleen Nelson, Dr. Michael Cox, Dr. Emma Guns, Dr. Piotr Kozlowski and Dr. Chris Ong - and their teams of post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, graduate students and undergraduate students working full-time in the laboratory.

Clinical Research

One of the Prostate Centre's greatest strengths is the close interaction between our scientific and clinical investigators. This integrated team approach allows for the rapid movement of discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic and has already resulted in clinical trials of promising new therapies. These include novel applications of hormonal drug therapies and the targeting of genes responsible for resistance to conventional treatment. Recently, we are also collaborating on the development of clinical trials evaluating complementary and alternative therapies.

It can cost $200 million or more to develop a single new drug treatment, which could prevent, treat or even cure cancer. Researchers at Vancouver Hospital hope to lead the development of many more of these treatments.

The clinical research team has been involved in multi-centre national and international studies for the past 17 years. The team consists of 2 uro-oncologists, Dr. Goldenberg and Dr. Gleave, 2 medical oncologists, Dr. Nick Bruchovsky and Dr. Kim Chi, a Nurse-Scientist, Dr. Joyce Davison, 2 full-time clinical research nurses, a data manager and clerical staff. All studies are carried out under the auspices of UBC Ethics and VGH Department of Research Affairs.

Dr. Nick Bruchovsky accepted the position of Clinician-Scientist Emeritus with the Prostate Centre in the Fall of 2001.

Clinical Treatment

The Prostate Clinic, located in the Heather Pavilion at VGH, sees approximately 1000 new prostate cancer patients per year, referred from all over the Lower Mainland, BC and Canada. The Clinic's faculty includes two urologists, two medical oncologists and one clinical fellow. There are usually at least 1 urology resident and a medical student rotating through the Clinic.

Surgery, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy are the primary forms of treatment for prostate disease. Until recently, treatment methods had not changed significantly in nearly 50 years. As new and improved therapies move past the clinical trial stage, they become available to the general population. Thanks to innovative work done by the clinicians and researchers affiliated with the Prostate Centre at VGH as well as others in the international community, patients are now being given a wider range of treatment options, ranging from "watchful waiting" to highly refined surgical procedures. The physicians at the Centre are regularly referred patients from across the province, the country and elsewhere for second opinions and/or ongoing care.

Environmental, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research

Many men with prostate disease explore the route of complementary and alternative medicine. This includes the use of plant and animal extracts, herbal therapy, pH therapy, Cesium, green teas, PC-SPES, essiac, shark cartilage as well as native healing practices, Asian healing methods, environmental modifications, relaxation therapy, acupressure, healing touch and the like. We recognize the need for gathering scientific data vs. anecdotal accounts of the efficacy of complementary medicine and our researchers are working to develop and direct research protocols designed to study these therapies both at the bench and at the bedside. The Prostate Centre has partnered with the Tzu Chi Institute and BC Cancer Agency to create an Integrated Prostate Health Program, which provide support to men and their families who are seeking an integrated approach to treating, or lowering their risk for, prostate disease.


Training Programs

All of the clinicians and scientists at the Prostate Centre have faculty appointments in the Department of Surgery at UBC. Most hold cross-appointments in other Departments such as Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Experimental Medicine, Genetics, Pharmacology, Nursing and Physics. All of them supervise undergraduate, graduate, clinical fellows and/or post-doctoral fellows. Our reputation as a leader in prostate cancer treatment and research has attracted numerous students over the years. They have
come from across Canada, the USA, Japan, China, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, Russia and the Middle East to study and to refine their skills.

The faculty actively participates in the Medical School curriculum, and students and residents are trained in the Clinic and operating room on all aspects of urological care of the prostate patient. In addition to supervising residents through the Division of Urology, there is an active program in place to train clinician-scientists, with Clinical Fellows working on projects which bridge basic and clinical research.

The excellence of our training programs led to two milestones in 2001. Through funding provided by the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative, Dr. Michael Cox and Dr. Martin Gleave created the Prostate Education and Training Centre, the only one of its kind in Western Canada and one of only two such centres nation-wide. The establishment of the Prostate Centre's Training and Education Centre is a first step towards encouraging young students to seek their advanced education in Canada and young scientists to pursue careers in Canada. The end result will be an increase in the number of Canadian independent investigators with an interest in prostate cancer. Over the next three years, the Prostate Centre will train 5 Clinical Research Fellows, 3 Post-doctoral Fellows, 3 Graduate students and will be providing funding for 4 Medical Student Summer Fellowships.

In order to develop closer ties to the university, the Prostate Centre proposed the creation of the University of British Columbia Centre for Prostate Research. In the Fall of 2001, the UBC Senate sanctioned the creation of this academic Centre of Excellence. In addition to forging closer ties to other researchers and faculty members at the university, the UBC Centre for Prostate Research encourages advanced training for graduates and post-graduate students in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment.

Clinical Fellows MD-PhD
Urology Residents

Continuing Education

The Prostate Centre hosts a weekly seminar program in which experts in prostate disease and related topics are invited to give a presentation and meet with the principal investigators and students (see attached). These seminars are attended by more than 60 students, technicians, scientific and clinical staff every week. In addition, we have videotaped some of the visiting professors and guests and compiled these videos as an important reference source in the Education and Research Centre and video clips are inserted onto our website. Members of the Centre also participate in the weekly Division of Urology Grand Rounds.

The researchers at the Prostate Centre annually teach a month-long module on prostate cancer for UBC's Cancer Biology Program. This course is offered to graduate students from a variety of scientific disciplines including Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The Prostate Centre also participates in both UBC's and UVic's Co-op Education Programs with students accepted for the Summer and Fall semesters.

For 10 years, Dr. Goldenberg has co-chaired a highly rated national seminar in prostate disease. The conference, entitled "Issues and Controversies in Prostate Cancer", is held every spring in Whistler, and is attended by 120 to 150 urologists, radiation and medical oncologists from throughout North America.

Patient and Family Resources

Men need to be able to make informed decisions about their treatment options. The Prostate Education and Research Centre is an important information resource for families, patients and other health care professionals. Ongoing research into some of the psycho-social aspects of prostate disease diagnosis and treatment will lead to improved methods of providing information to patients and their families which, ultimately, will help them to make more informed decisions about treatment options. The program is led by Dr. Joyce Davison, a nurse-scientist with an appointment at the
UBC School of Nursing, who is conducting research into the effects of educational information on treatment outcomes.

At present, local urologists regularly refer patients to the Prostate Education and Research Centre for counseling. In addition to providing information to men and their families, the Prostate Cancer Resource Library is available to health care professionals, researchers, clinicians, university graduate students, post-doctoral and clinical fellows, and members of the general public from across the country. People have access to a variety of books, videos, professional articles, and internet web sites to provide you with information on topics such as: prostate cancer, benign prostate diseases, treatment options, sexuality issues, personal stories, decision making, community resources, latest research findings and complementary therapies (eg. nutrition, exercise)

Community Support Programs

- Canadian Cancer Society

The investigators at the Prostate Centre regularly participate in fund raising and public awareness events hosted by the Cancer Society and are panel members for NCIC grant reviews. One of the Directors is also on the Management Committee of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative which was established to
administer the additional funding provided by Health Canada for prostate cancer research. The CCS, BC & Yukon Division, has partnered with our educational team to develop forums and seminars for the general public and to create an educational video on erectile dysfunction in prostate cancer patients.

- Support groups, community programs and professional organizations

The Prostate Centre has forged close ties with the support groups in BC and across Canada and our researchers are regularly invited to speak to these groups. Many of the investigators are also on the board or executive committee of organizations such as the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative, the Canadian Prostate Cancer Network, the Canadian Prostate Health Council, the Canadian Urological Association, the Canadian Urologic Oncology Group, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Western Section of the American Urological Association and the Northwest Urological Association.


Besides the prostatelab.org website, our another ongoing projects is the development of our Website (www.prostatecentre.com) which will provide extensive information on all aspects of prostate disease. Much of the information has been taken from the recently published 3rd edition of Dr. Goldenberg's book entitled "Prostate Cancer: All you need to know to take an active part in your treatment". This is written in laymen's terms and is considered to be one of the best on the market and used by patients across North America.

We have also included taped interviews and video clips with experts in prostate disease who are invited to the Prostate Centre as guest speakers as part of our weekly seminar series.



The "Virtual Component"

The Prostate Centre benefits from strong alliances with associates in a wide variety of fields both at UBC and in other institutions, which complement the expertise already on hand at the Prostate Centre and offer innumerable opportunities for collaborative investigations.Our goal is to foster relationships and research development at each site within the 'virtual family', with an overall goal of achieving a unified, widespread, integrated program for prostate disease treatment and research.

Current Affiliations

University of British Columbia

All of our researchers hold cross-appointments and collaborate with UBC faculty in other departments at the University of British Columbia including Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacology, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT), Medical Genetics, Zoology, Physics, Experimental Medicine, Nutritional Sciences, Neurosciences, Molecular Biophysics, Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Radiology and Epidemiology.

BC Cancer Agency

The BC Cancer Agency provides clinical treatment to cancer patients from throughout the Province.  The research arm of the BCCA, the BC Cancer Research Centre, houses 7 research units.  Many of their physicians and researchers have undertaken projects which may have direct implications on prostate disease research and treatment.   Currently, there are several ongoing collaborative projects with members of the departments of Advanced Therapeutics, Epidemiology, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology and Cancer Biology at the BCCA.  The senior scientists at the Prostate Centre at VGH currently hold cross-appointments in the Department of Cancer Endocrinology. The BCCA has been the Prostate Centre's partner in the Health Canada funded Vancouver Centre of Excellence for Prostate Cancer since 1999.

Genome BC

A significant new achievement has been our partnership with Genome BC. The Genome BC Microarray Platform has been built upon the existing capacity and expertise of the Prostate Centre's Gene Array Facility as well as the UBC Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics. This exciting new program will serve the needs of the Cancer, Cardiovascular, Forestry, Salmon, Pathogenomics and Microbial Envirogenomics research communities by providing complete integrated solutions for array-based analyses. Dr. Colleen Nelson, a senior scientist at the Prostate Centre, has been appointed as Director of the Genome BC Microarray Platform.

Tzu Chi Institute

There is significant interest in studying the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines. In addition to the CAM research projects at the Prostate Centre , the researchers are actively involved in the Integrated Prostate Health Program at the Tzu Chi Institute.

Other University and Health Care Organizations

Over the years, the investigators at the Prostate Centre have forged strong links with other researchers and clinicians around the world. The associate members list outlines just some of the collaborations and partnerships which currently exist with institutions such as the BC Women's & Children's Hospital, University of Victoria, University of Virginia, UCLA, UCSF, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University and others.


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