Reflecting on the Year of Data Acceleration: A Network update by Dr. André Veillette

Dr. André Veillette, Executive Director of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network, provides an update on the Year of Data Acceleration.

Dear colleagues, 

One year ago, we announced that our Network would be embarking on the Year of Data Acceleration. Today, I want to provide an exciting update on what we were able to collectively achieve this year by working together towards this common goal. 

The Early Days  

In Feb. 2019, the Federal Government announced that it would help fund the Network, but it wasn't until June 2021, when the Terry Fox Research Institute signed a Contribution Agreement with Health Canada, that work officially started. At that point, the Network was made up of four founding members – BC Cancer, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the Goodman Cancer Institute at McGill University and the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CR-CHUM) – who came together under the leadership of the Terry Fox Research Institute. 

Between June 2021 and December 2022, Network operations ramped up. We set up a governance structure and new staff joined the team. Working groups were formed or re-ignited, and standards for the generation, curation and sharing of data were created. Cohorts that would contribute data to the MOHCCN Gold Cohort were identified by regional consortia in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, which, anchored by our founding members, had begun to grow and mature as new members joined the Network. In December 2021, institutions in the Prairie provinces came together to form the Prairie Cancer Consortium.  By January of 2023, the Atlantic Cancer Consortium, our final regional consortium, joined the Network, completing our coast-to-coast expansion. 

At that point, 888 full genomic profiles had been sequenced for the Gold Cohort. Things were starting to pick up steam, but we were behind schedule with our cases and our expenditures. We had to ramp up the pace of data generation, which led us to reach out to each Consortium to better understand the particularities of each region and the bottlenecks that were slowing down the accrual of cases. This led to important changes that would make it easier for sites to generate cases for the Network.  

The Year of Data Acceleration 

Our data acceleration strategy was put in motion that January, and by April we were excited to announce that the fiscal year that runs from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024, would be the Year of Data Acceleration.  

Building on new processes and lessons learned over the first few years of the project, the data started flowing and our Network began to grow more quickly. New members joined, new programs were launched and new cohorts were supported. We launched a dashboard to track our progress on our website and removed administrative bottlenecks that were affecting data generation. This helped make the Year of Data Acceleration a resounding success. 

From April 2023 – March 2024: 

  • MOHCCN Gold Cohort cases with full genomic profiles almost doubled from 2,547 to 4,287 (remember we were only at 888 that January!) 

  • Cases with full clinical data went from 0 to 1095 

  • Institutional memberships increased from 24 to 34 

  • Gold Cohort-contributing cohorts increased from 62 to 99 

  • Total Research Project Grant Agreements signed increased from 19 at the end of fiscal 2023 to 117 at the end of fiscal year 2024 

  • 10 policies and guidelines were released or updated 

  • 20 Pan-Canadian projects were awarded 

  • 12 new early-career researchers were named recipients of our two early-career grant programs 

  • The Patient Working Group was launched to ensure patients helped shape Network operations 

The growth of the Network over the last year has been incredible, and none of it would have been possible without support from you, the over 600 patients, researchers, clinicians, administrators and data scientists who make up this growing Network. 

We are extremely proud of our collective accomplishment over the last year, and yet, we know there’s still a lot of work to do… 

Introducing the Year of Capacity Building 

As we enter fiscal year 2025, our goal is to continue growing the Network, so it better represents all Canadians. To achieve this, today we are announcing the launch of the Year of Capacity Building. This new strategy will see us create new systems to accelerate the ingestion of clinical data to the Network, while focusing on expanding our reach from coast-to-coast-to-coast by adding new members from smaller centres, strengthening our regional consortia, launching new funding programs and creating new strategies to reach underserved and underrepresented communities. This will help us improve capacity across the country for the accrual, ingestion and sharing of Gold Cohort data, while ensuring this resource reflects the diversity of our entire nation, so that precision medicine can benefit us all. 

Back in 1980, Terry Fox invited every Canadian to join his Marathon of Hope. True to Terry’s spirit, our goal for the coming fiscal year is to start paving the way for more Canadians to join our Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. 

Dr. André Veillette, 
Executive Director, MOHCCN 


Latest News 

New funding opportunity 

  • The MOHCCN and the Terry Fox Research Institute have launched the TFRI-MOHCCN Technology Development Awards to develop additional profiling technologies that would generate data compatible with precision oncology and could be applied to a section of the MOHCCN Gold Cohort. Read more and apply here

New Pan-Canadian Projects announced 


Team Canada of Cancer Research News 

Network voices 


  • Leadership and researchers from the Princess Margaret Cancer Consortium presented updates to Network members as part of the first event of the second season of the MOHCCN Seminar Series. You can re-watch their presentations here

  • The next event of the MOHCCN Seminar Series will feature updates from leadership and researchers at the Marathon of Hope – Québec consortium. The event will be held on April 25 at 2pm ET. You can register to attend here

"The data started flowing and our Network began to grow more quickly. New members joined, new programs were launched and new cohorts were supported. This helped make the Year of Data Acceleration a resounding success. "