Alberta Cancer Foundation

Researcher Resources​

Alberta Cancer Foundation Game Changer Competition

2024 Recipients

Dr. Vickie Baracos – Cancer cachexia: breaking the spiral of wasting and treatment toxicity

People diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers often experience the distressing state of cachexia, a progressive loss of weight, fat and muscle, sometimes referred to as wasting. People affected by cachexia experience weakness and fatigue and often end up with early termination of treatment due to complications, hospitalization and severely reduced quality of life. This Game Changer team, led by Dr Baracos, will advance our understanding of the effects and impacts of cachexia, seeking to use novel and innovative imaging, pharmacokinetic and data-driven approaches to customize treatment for better outcomes.


Dr. Ing Swie Goping – A patient-derived organoid platform for next-level breast cancer research

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in women. Treatment decisions are based on the combination of hormone receptor and HER2 status of the tumor at diagnosis. However, there is no reliable way to determine how a patient will respond to a given treatment. This Game Changer team, led by Dr. Swie Goping, will establish a multidimensional platform for matched breast cancer tumors and avatars of these tumors called organoids. The tumors and organoids will be deeply analyzed by her team using multiple clinical and molecular parameters to begin to predict whether a patient will respond to a particular treatment. This platform will be made available to other research teams to foster additional research.


Dr. Roseline Godbout – Investigating the link between metabolism and prostate cancer progression

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. Sometimes, prostate cancer that hasn’t spread can be treated effectively, but there is no cure for prostate cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. Much remains to be learned about why and how some prostate cancers spread and explored for new approaches for treatment. This Game Changer team, led by Dr. Godbout, will bring together a diverse team of researchers and clinicians dedicated to finding novel approaches to tackling metastatic prostate cancer, ultimately seeking a better way of diagnosing and treating the disease.


Dr. Kristi Baker – Immune resistance mechanisms in late-stage genetically unstable cancers

We know that the immune system is great at fighting cancers as illustrated by the success of checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T therapy. However, the immune system is not always successful in fighting all cancers, particularly latestage cancers that are genetically unstable. This Game Changer team, led by Dr. Baker, will bring a multiplex imaging platform to the University of Alberta. This instrument will allow her team to examine patient samples from early and late-stage cancers to identify the differences in the tumor immune response. This characterization will aid in the development of novel therapeutic approaches, the discovery of new biomarkers and more.

Applicants will need to sign in with an existing SM Apply account, or will need to register for an account.

Introducing the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Game Changer Competition, a research competition to drive innovative cancer research, complement existing funding sources and promote collaboration across traditional boundaries. Our goal? Answer the big research questions that impact people facing cancer.


The goal of the competition is to support up to four ‘Game Changer’ cancer research teams, based in Edmonton, Alberta, to work on new and innovative ways of identifying, describing and tackling important cancer research questions. This funding opportunity is designed to enable each research team to capitalize on existing areas of research strength, with the goal of boosting cancer research impact, productivity and capacity using creative approaches or fresh perspectives on existing ideas that may not be feasible with other sources of research funding.


Research teams based in Edmonton, Alberta are invited to submit proposals describing the team, objectives and desired outcomes of a proposed research opportunity that aligns with the goal of the competition. Each research team may apply for up to $1.25 million in total, for up to four years. All funds must remain in Edmonton.

All proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a review panel on scientific merit and feasibility, and on descriptions of how expectations, aligned with the goal of the funding competition, will be met.


The program launches on Monday July 31, 2023, the Notice of Intent (NOI) Deadline is August 28, 2023.


Through the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s We Cross Cancer capital campaign, donors from across Alberta contributed $5 million to invest in innovative cancer research in Edmonton.

Together, in consultation with the research community, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Alberta Health Services Cancer Care Alberta’s Cancer Research & Analytics and the University of Alberta’s Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta, developed the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Game Changer Competition as a strategic and creative way to support cancer research in Edmonton.

If you have any questions, please contact

In general, the NOI will not be used to triage proposals, unless it is determined that the proposal is not eligible as per the criteria outlined on Page 3 of the guidelines.

An investigator may be a principal applicant on only one proposal and a team member on one other proposal; researchers may be a team member on a maximum of two research team proposals. If more than the allowed NOIs are submitted, the principal applicant will be asked to withdraw some in order to be compliant with the guidelines.

Research teams must contain individuals with diverse backgrounds, expertise and experience, and as such, career development stage should be considered when developing a research team.
The format of the proposal has intentionally been left open in order to allow for all creative research ideas to be presented in a way that best describes how they will meet the goals of the competition. Research team funding is not intended to support discrete investigator-initiated research projects, unless those projects are designed to generate pilot data and are linked directly with a research platform or research theme established with the support of cancer research team funding.

The minimum number of team members is four. Team members may be scientists, clinicians, other healthcare providers, patient partners or trainees. See Appendix A of the guidelines for the definition of team member and additional information.

Yes, collaborators may be located outside Alberta. However, collaborators from outside Alberta are not eligible to receive funding unless it is for services provided.
Yes, the panel will consist of national and potentially international reviewers.

A principal applicant must hold a permanent academic, research, research-related and/or clinical appointment with the University of Alberta and/or Alberta Health Services and be eligible to apply for, and hold, grant funding at their institution.

The Game Changer Competition is part of the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s ongoing commitment to advance cancer research in Alberta. Those ideas put forward as part of the Game Changer Competition may be considered for future funding.

Report or Financials Submission  

If you are a researcher needing to submit reporting or financials, please email our team at