New McMaster University program uses ‘smart bombs’ to detect and treat cancer

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Published June 22, 2022 at 2:51 pm

New McMaster University program uses 'smart bombs' to detect and treat cancer
John Valliant, Fusion Pharmaceuticals CEO and McMaster professor; Karen Mossman, vice-president, research; Dave Tucker, assistant vice-president research, nuclear; David Farrar, president and vice-chancellor; and Maureen MacDonald, dean, Faculty of Science at the partnership launch event on June 21, 2022. (Photo by Georgia Kirkos/McMaster University)

Hamilton’s McMaster University launched a program that will provide graduate students with state-of-the-art training in using radiopharmaceuticals for cancer detection and treatment.

Radiopharmaceuticals is a form of radiation therapy that is injected intravenously. Its precision medicine approach delivers “smart bombs” directly to cancer cells — ensuring the right drug is given to the right patient.


The Fusion Pharmaceuticals Training Program, led by Professor Sam Sadeghi, is part of a new five-year partnership between McMaster University, Mitacs, and Canadian biotech company Fusion Pharmaceuticals. Graduate students will get leading-edge experience using radiopharmaceuticals for cancer detection and treatment.

Students will work in the renovated state-of-the-art $22 million facilities at the Nuclear Research Building and Fusion’s leading-edge R&D facilities in Hamilton.

“We are grateful for the generous and forward-looking investments from Fusion Pharmaceuticals and Mitacs,” said McMaster President David Farrar. “This fantastic support is a real vote of confidence in Hamilton’s future as a hub for the biotech industry and the development of radiopharmaceuticals. It also positions our students to become innovators and play a crucial role in building the ecosystem.”

Fusion Pharmaceuticals is led by CEO John Valliant, a McMaster professor and company founder.

“Our field of radiopharmaceuticals is experiencing a resurgence of interest right now, driven by the opportunity to harness the power of radiation to kill cancer cells,” said Valliant. “We are excited to enter this partnership with McMaster, which will not only advance radiopharmaceutical research benefitting cancer patients but will foster a pipeline of scientists who are creative thinkers and problem solvers and who will get to experience our field from both the academic and industry perspective.”

“In addition, we hope it will fuel students’ entrepreneurial spirit and desire to create Canada’s next great biotechnology companies.”

Mitacs is a national organization designed to support student internship programs and build collaborative relationships between industry leaders, universities, and communities through its Accelerate program.

“Mitacs is proud to partner with Fusion and McMaster University to drive research in targeted radiation therapy,” said Mitacs CEO John Hepburn. “Targeted radiation therapy has the potential to synergize with immune therapies – but the key to realizing that potential is to have scientists who are trained cross-functionally in radiation science, cancer biology, and immunology.”

“Through this important partnership, we can provide the hands-on training needed to achieve this critical cross-functionality and support medical innovation in Canada.”

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