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Cancer Research Institute (IRCUS)

From molecule to patient

The mission of the Université de Sherbrooke’s cancer research institute (Institut de recherche sur le cancer de l’Université de Sherbrooke (IRCUS)) is to promote multidisciplinary research focused on increasing knowledge in oncology to stimulate the development of innovative approaches to fight cancer and mitigate its impact on the quality of life of cancer patients.


  • Ensure knowledge and technologies contribute to developing innovative projects in relation to the fight against cancer.
  • Promote excellence and creativity, whether originating from a multidisciplinary or a specific field of studies. Creative and innovative projects can come from individuals, whether a student, researcher, or clinician, and often from interactions among fundamental research teams, or clinician and fundamental research teams.
  • Promote the expertise of its members and their research and technological platforms to stimulate discoveries and innovations in the research continuum on cancer, from the molecule to the clinic.

      Several Research Advances

      Whether in basic, translational, and clinical research, these advances are leading to a number of discoveries and technologies that are currently shaking up cancer research and fostering the development of new treatment approaches, as well as the improvement of patient management and quality of life: 

      • CRISPR Technology
      • “Omics” technologies:
        • Genomics
        • Transcriptomics
        • Proteomics
        • Metabolomics
        • Functional genomics
      • Immunotherapy
      • Personalized medicine
      • Artificial intelligence (AI) through bioinformatics approaches

      Subjects of Studies

      The members of the Institut de recherche sur le cancer de l’Université de Sherbrooke study cancer from several aspects: molecular, cellular, pharmacological, clinical and psychosocial. The aspects of cancer studied are combined with expertise to foster relevant advances in precision health, like clinical epidemiology, genomics, transcriptomics, functional proteomics, molecular imaging and bioinformatics.

      HEALTH PRECISION: Management or treatment adapted to each patient based on their cancer, values, and preferences.

      One Institute, Many Strengths

      Examples of research avenues

      RNA and Protein Biology

      Several research teams are studying how RNA and proteins contribute to the life of a cell, including its structural and regulatory roles. A disorder in their expressions can cause cancer. The “omics” technologies like genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and functional genomics allow for accurately establishing the complexity of disorders associated with each tumour and identifying new therapeutical targets often specific to each patient, or to different tumour clones in cancer developing in a patient.

      Epithelial Cancers and Biological Models

      Cancer involving organs of the digestive system represents a considerable burden due to its impact and low patient survival rate. There are several research teams devoted to improving gastrointestinal cancer screening, understanding how these types of cancer develop and the resistance issues associated with treatment, and identifying mechanisms causing their development to reduce their impact.

      Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches

      A better overall understanding of the biological processes allows for developing innovative approaches, such as improving the recognition of tumours by the immune system. Development in imaging also makes personalized cancer treatment possible. In relation to care, the patient is at the heart of the design and implementation of projects to improve clinical oncology health practices, in line with each patient’s values and preferences.

      François Michel Boisvert

      François Michel Boisvert

      Scientific Director