Welcome to our website! We are 16 years old. Our site was created in January 2001, as my husband Robert fought prostate and gallbladder cancer. We created the Bras Drug Development Program to give other cancer patients the choice of receiving new drugs, a choice my husband didn’t have. Sadly Robert passed away September 4, 2002.

Robert was gutsy, smart, strong, impatient, stubborn, challenging, fun loving, and hardworking husband and father to our blended family of 6. He was an entrepreneur with a big and generous heart, and would go out of his way for those in need. And so it was fitting that The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program (BRAS DDP) was born and set about creating new drugs for all cancers, and 16 years later we have done just that!

Today, our program is led by Director, Dr. Amit Oza, and Co-Director, Drs. Lillian Siu, Philippe Bedard. Principal investigators, Drs. Albiruni Razak, Anna Spreafico, Aaron Hansen and Staff Physician, Dr. Stephanie Lheureux. The BRAS DDP has grown into Canada’s largest and premier drug development program with 10 doctors and more than 80 staff including: nurses, coordinators, managers, fellows and scientists. The team has treated more than 5000 patients on over 200 clinical trials, developed and led by BRAS DDP investigators from Princess Margaret and a consortium of sites through Canada!

The BRAS DDP investigators continue to push the boundaries of our understanding of cancer and how we can advance the next generation of precision anti-cancer agents. Whether this means honing in on particular changes in the DNA of cancer, like targeting its Achilles’ heel, or harnessing the power of the immune system, the BRAS Drug Development Program has contributed important new information over the last year to help conquer cancer.

Drs. Lillian Siu and Phil Bedard have led the filed looking at how to incorporate genomic testing to improve precision of cancer treatment. There have also been major new programs initiated in women’s cancers, with significant new funding from major philanthropic donors, pharmaceutical companies and granting agencies. These new initiatives will allow us to learn from every patient – to understand why treatments work or fail, to understand the biology and importantly, to try and improve effectiveness of treatment using this information.

Phase I clinical trials are the bridge between the laboratory and the clinic. They represent the first time a promising new agent, which has been tested extensively in the lab, is given to humans. The purpose is to understand what the drug does to the body and what the body does to the drug. The goal is to determine whether it’s safe and whether there is any hint of activity to warrant further development. The Phase I program is the larges in Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in first-in-human clinical trials!

Within the Phase II setting, our staff have been closely involved with participating in key trials examining the effect of PARP inhibitors (DNA–repair enzyme), exploiting key vulnerabilities in cancers such as ovarian, targeting this Achilles heel with well tolerated oral agents, which have now been approved for clinical use across the world!

Our upcoming 9th edition of our Helping Hands newsletter, will highlight the breakthroughs in our cancer research. It will also showcase milestones such as the welcoming of several new faculty members who bring expertise in gynecologic, genitourinary and pancreatic cancers, cancers of the head and neck, as well as melanoma and immune therapy. You will also learn about several of our Clinical Research Fellows who have travelled from the farthest reaches of the globe to train from our internationally renowned faculty. When they return to their home countries, they apply their new knowledge and skills to treat cancer patients around the world.

Our newsletter will also invite you to follow Janet’s journey. Janet is a patient in the BRAS DDP’s Phase I clinical trials program. She will take you through her devastating diagnosis, and her decision to join the Phase I clinical trial. Lee-Anne Stayner, Janet’s Phase I clinical trials nurse, will guide us through her care of Janet, and explain her role and that of the 8 clinical trial nurses. She will explain what is so unique about this group of clinicians and the dynamics of the Phase I system.

We will also pay tribute to Lee Pettersen, a patient, a friend and a true inspiration to all those who had the privilege to know her. She was quite the gal!

Our challenge is to continue to improve treatment for cancer. Our success is measured not only the quality and rigor of our work, but by the impact we have on patients and their families. The program continues to succeed because of the dedication and enthusiasm our entire team brings to providing longer and better lives for our patients in Canada and around the world.

Maggie Bras
President, BRAS DDP Advisory Committee

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I cannot change the outcome, I can just live the journey.

— Lee Pettersen, Bras Drug Trial Patient

The BRAS Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret is an outstanding program and I am very honoured to be a part of it.

— Dr. Ilaria Colombo – BRAS DDP Clinical Fellow – Italy

We all know someone who has been affected by cancer, and the BRAS Drug Development Program, under the directorship of Drs. Malcolm Moore, Amit Oza, Lillian Siu, Philippe Bedard and Albiruni Razak, has achieved credibility on an international scale, and the advancements being made will bring us that much closer to finding a cure for this dreaded disease…

— Mayor Hazel McCallion, C.M., LL.D. (City of Mississauga)

In addition to the innovative and ground breaking research being conducted, I commend the Bras Drug Development Program for providing such outstanding support to those suffering with cancer. The community of dedicated and compassionate professionals behind this wonderful program, provides much needed hope to cancer patients, in order for them to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

— Hazel McCallion, C.M., LL.D. Mayor

Minutes after her diagnosis, she called her friend and gave her a mission. “Find the best oncologist in the city who treats ‘islet’ tumours”. Within the hour, she had a name. Dr. Lillian Siu of the BRAS Drug Development Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

— Bobbi Pfisherer-Cohen – BRAS DDP drug trial patient

Squeeze every drop of joy out of each day. Do not wait to live your life – tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone.

— Lee Pettersen, Bras Drug Trial Patient