Blood cancer researchers unite to overcome challenges of COVID-19

Cancer research funds are being reallocated to COVID-19 studies, testing and treatment, and stalling the momentum of blood cancer research.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada 3 minute read November 13, 2020

Leading experts from across the country are putting on a united front to help restart the stalled momentum of cancer research in Canada.

Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer, a clinician and blood cancer researcher in British Columbia is leading a newly formed Researcher Super Team – a group of scientists that have come together to help raise funds and advocate for the critical need to support blood cancer research.

With no end in sight, the pandemic has shut down more than 600 cancer research trials as the country went into lockdown, and researchers have yet to return to their labs and resume work at full capacity. Cancer research funds are being reallocated to COVID-19 studies, testing and treatment, and stalling the momentum of blood cancer research.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada – the single largest health agency dedicated to all blood cancers and a major funder of blood cancer research in the country is urging Canadians to support scientists who are fighting for an opportunity to advance existing research and develop new therapies.

“We stand with Canada’s blood cancer research community and applaud their unprecedented decision to raise funds for blood cancer cures and people affected by the disease,” says Alicia Talarico, LLSC president. “We are at a pivotal moment in our mission to conquer blood cancers and while it is true that COVID-19 has slowed us down, it cannot stop our progress unless we let it.”

Dr. Kuchenbauer and other scientists who are part of the Researcher Super Team are leading experts in the field with active studies that aim to prevent, detect and treat blood cancers. Funds raised through the Research Super Team will contribute to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s annual flagship event, Light The Night Walk, which generates the lion’s share of funding for blood cancer research and community programs. Last year, thanks to fundraisers and donors across the country, Light the Night raised over $6.6 million. While Canadians will not be walking together this year due to COVID-19, Light The Night Fundraising Teams are actively working to raise money for research and community services. To celebrate their achievements, honour community heroes and remember loves ones lost, LLSC will host a national Light The Night broadcast event on October 24, 2020.

“The pandemic will eventually pass, but blood cancers will stay,” says Kuchenbauer. “Our goal is to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for patients, clinicians and researchers alike and elevate blood cancer research to the next level. Canadians deserve the best and most modern treatment for blood cancers with no ifs, ands or buts.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada has a long-standing history of funding cancer research that began in 1955 when five Toronto women concerned about the lack of blood cancer research began fundraising. Since 2000, LLSC has invested more than $40 million in research to better understand the underlying causes of the disease, develop better therapies, and save more lives. Because of research, survival rates for those diagnosed with a blood cancer have doubled, tripled and in some cases, quadrupled since 1960.

Dr. Sabine Mai in Manitoba, Dr. Trang Hoang and Dr. Guy Sauvageau in Quebec, Dr. Gilles Robichaud in New Brunswick, Dr. Mani Larijani in British Columbia and Dr. Fabio Contu in Manitoba have joined the Research Super Team to help restart the stalled momentum of cancer research, accelerate treatments and improve outcomes for so many Canadians. To learn more about the Researcher Super Team, visit