Dr. Brenda Gallie to receive Collaborative Leadership Research Grant at 2019 Young Investigator Draft presented by CSL Behring


The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.

These Young Investigators will pursue rare disease research in one of five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.

To learn more about the Young Investigator Draft and to purchase tickets click here.

Researcher: Dr. Brenda Gallie

Category: Collaborative Leadership Research Grant

Education: Dr. Brenda Gallie, a native of Canada, started her education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in the pre-med program and received her MD as well. She did her residency at the University of Toronto and her post-graduate research training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where she began her research on the rare disease retinoblastoma. Currently, Dr. Gallie is President of the International Retinoblastoma Consortium, Director of the Retinoblastoma Program at the Hospital for Sick Children, Paediatric Ocular Oncologist at Calgary Children’s Hospital, Professor at the University of Toronto, and Adjunct Scientist and Lead of Health Informatics Research in the University Health Network TECHNA Institute.

Research: The Gallie Lab under the direction of Dr. Brenda Gallie has been focused on all aspects of the rare disease retinoblastoma. Dr. Gallie has developed a highly sensitive and cost effective methodology for identification of retinoblastoma (RB) gene mutations at The Hospital for Sick Children and has demonstrated a beneficial impact on health care quality and economy. This work has achieved the only efficient and sensitive test for RB mutations in the world. Ongoing basic research studies address the molecular basis for the retinal tissue specificity of induction of cancer by RB mutation. These studies in retinoblastoma tumors have defined the major mechanisms of multidrug resistance of the tumors. In response, Dr. Gallie and her collaborator Dr. Helen Chan developed a chemotherapy modification which has resulted in the best-yet success to save eyes with retinoblastoma. This world leadership in retinoblastoma has led Dr. Gallie to design, with the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, a randomized clinical trial to test the components of this protocol.

In Their Words: “I worked on a case in 1973 and we had an opportunity to present that case to the city rounds. So I went to the Toronto Library and discovered a paper published in 1971 from a pediatrician who loved numbers. He had a 25-child sample and from those pure numbers he found there was only one thing in the cancer that allowed these children to have bi-lateral retinoblastoma. He figured all this out with a pencil. No fancy stuff just plain clinical research. And when I read that I knew this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.” – Dr. Brenda Gallie

Dr. Brenda Gallie and her research partner Dr. Nancy Olivieri (left).

For nearly five decades Dr. Gallie has been a pioneer and research ambassador for children with retinoblastoma. For her work, she was appointed to the Order of Ontario 2006 and Order of Canada 2014 in recognition of her more than 40 years or research in retinoblastoma.

The mother of two daughters and four grandchildren loves the outdoors and even sleeps in a clear glass bubble outside at her home in Toronto so she look up at the stars and still have that feeling of being outdoors. She also has a very deep passion for horses and owns a stable about 45 minutes outside of Toronto.

Her tireless pursuit of finding solutions for children diagnosed with retinoblastoma is inspiring. Her impact on the rare disease is global and with the help of new technology and continued advances through research she continues to raise the bar and break new ground in the search to find a cure.

“I mean there is an awful lot of collaborating along the way to make anything positive happen. It takes a lot,” Dr. Gallie said. “When you break it down some of the stuff we have done with science might seem scary when you start working with children. But none of it has been scary to me because I know the science.

“A lot has changed in science since I started but to me it’s still the same principle. All I’ve ever done is gather all the science we possibly could and then figure out how to apply it to people.”

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