Thakor lab earns Cancer Research Society funding

The University of Lethbridge’s Dr. Nehal Thakor continues to receive support for his leading-edge research on one of the deadliest forms of cancer, glioblastoma (GBM).

The Thakor lab received a $120,000 grant as he looks to improve the efficacy of clinical treatments of glioblastoma.

Thakor, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Campus Alberta Innovates Program Chair of Synthetic Biology and RNA-Based Systems, has received a $120,000 grant from the Cancer Research Society (CRS) as he looks to improve the efficacy of clinical treatments of GBM. Thakor’s successful CRS application is the first of its kind for the U of L.

“This is one of the deadliest cancers, with a dismal prognosis and survival rate for those who contract the disease,” says Thakor, noting patients, on average, survive just 15 months after diagnosis. “This is a prestigious grant to win, with less than 17 per cent of applicants earning approval. Our proposal was one of just 17 in the country to receive a granting score above nine out of 10, so we are very pleased the CRS sees such great potential in our work.”

Thakor and his team are attempting to decode information about a key protein that allows GBM cells to evade programmed cell death during treatment, a function known as apoptosis. The protein, eIF5B, facilitates expression of anti-apoptotic proteins and allows GBM cells to survive under various treatment conditions. By better understanding how eIF5B works, Thakor and his team believe it will boost clinical management strategies of GBM, greatly benefitting all those who suffer from the disease.

“This research has the potential to uncover novel mechanisms of non-canonical translation initiation that lead to GBM survival, proliferation and angiogenesis, and ultimately to improve patient outcome,” says Thakor.

Thakor also recently earned an Exploration grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF). Working with Drs. Seyed Mehdi Jafarnejad (Queen’s University Belfast), Marc Roussel, Stacey Wetmore and Paul Hayes, they will use expertise in several fields of research, such as mathematical biology, computational biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, chemical synthesis, as well as translatomics and metabolomics, to investigate therapeutic targets for the treatment of GBM patients.

“The awarding of this grant is testament to both the quality and potential of Dr. Thakor’s work. It indicates the Cancer Research Society sees the possibility of impactful results from this research, which is really exciting,” says Dr. Jackie Rice, associate vice-president (research). “We are lucky to have researchers of his stature, who are making an impact on the global stage, here at the University of Lethbridge.”


The Cancer Research Society is a national non-profit organization whose sole mission is to fund research on all types of cancer to help prevent, detect and treat this disease. Our vision is one of audacity: we are striving together to outsmart cancer.