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Developing New Biomedical Technology for Cancer Treatment

Québec City, June 13, 2016 – Université Laval today announced the creation of the NSERC-Elekta Industrial Research Chair in biomedical technology for brachytherapy. The goal of this new Faculty of Science and Engineering chair is to develop the next generation of biomedical software, equipment, and systems for brachytherapy, a radiotherapy technique used in cancer treatment.

The new Chair has been made possible by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Elekta, one of the largest manufacturers of biomedical equipment for radiotherapy. These two partners have provided equal funding for a combined total of$3.1 million over five years. The Chair also receives contributions from Université Laval and the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Centre.

Brachytherapy, historically the first form of radiotherapy, has seen many advances in recent years—including modulation of radiation levels and improvements in algorithms to calculate and optimize doses—that make it a promising treatment option. «The key benefit of brachytherapy is its ability to treat cancer by placing a radiation source inside or next to the tumour, thus minimizing damage to healthy tissue. The biomedical industry is convinced this approach has great untapped potential,» says chairholder Luc Beaulieu, professor with the Department of Physics, Physical Engineering, and Optics and a researcher at Université Laval's Cancer Research Centre and at the CHU de Québec -Université Laval Research Centre.

The Chair will develop a new generation of algorithms, technologies, and systems to treat cancer with brachytherapy, which will form the basis of continued research beyond the five-year period. «These developments should not only improve existing treatment, but provide tools to develop new therapeutic approaches so we can expect research findings that can be applied more quickly,» adds the chairholder.

«NSERC is proud to support Luc Beaulieu through its Industrial Research Chairs program. In his partnership with multinational firm Elekta, Mr. Beaulieu has made significant advances in the development of new biomedical technologies,» explains NSERC president B. Mario Pinto. «As chairholder, he has helped extend Canada's contribution in oncology to a global scale. NSERC is pleased to fund projects like those of Mr. Beaulieu, which align with Canada's efforts to go global in science and technology.»

«This research Chair will further cement our commitment to close collaborations. I have no doubts that the projects generated from this new Chair will have a tremendous impact on Quebec and Canada's international reputation in the medical research community. More importantly, the project areas selected have the potential to have a profound impact on the lives of many cancer patients in Canada and around the world,» indicates research director for Elekta, Martin Lachaine.

«This new Chair fully reflects our commitment and that of Alliance Santé Québec to develop multidisciplinary and multisectoral approaches to address key societal issues,» says André Darveau, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

«The NSERC-Elekta Industrial Research Chair strengthens our global leadership and expertise in brachytherapy. This will serve to promote and disseminate our researchers' work and findings in the best interest of health care recipients,» notes Denis Brière, rector of Université Laval. «I wish to thank our partners, NSERC and Elekta, for supporting the advancement of knowledge and the training of highly skilled people in as vital a field as cancer treatment.»

About Université Laval
Université Laval, located in the world heritage city of Québec, is the oldest French-language university in North America. One of Canada's top research universities, it is ranked 6th among the country's institutions of higher learning, with a research budget of$325 million last year. Université Laval boasts more than 9,370 employees, including 3,685 professors, lecturers, and other teaching and research staff who share their know-how with more than 42,500 students, more than a quarter of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. Université Laval obtained STARS accreditation in 2014, ranking first in Canada and ninth worldwide for sustainable development. In 2015 it became Canada's first voluntarily carbon neutral university. The university currently has more than 277,000 alumni worldwide.

Andrée-Anne Stewart
Media Relations
Communications Department
Université Laval
Cell: 418-254-3141