Becoming the best prostate cancer research centre in Canada.
In 2002, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Frank Sojonky moved to Alberta. He wanted to learn more about research into the disease but soon discovered clinical research was far outstripping work in the laboratory. Frank decided to change that.
Frank rescues German Shorthaired Pointers—bird dogs. These hunting dogs find game, flush it from its hiding places and then retrieve it. Frank adopted that concept to form Bird Dogs. Some volunteers find prospective donors. Others make the pitch, and a third group closes. In the first five years, the Bird Dog approach raised $5 million for an endowed university chair, as well as $3 million for research.
The Frank and Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research attracted Dr. John Lewis, who brought his entire team to Edmonton. Dr. Lewis and his research team (with his spin-off company Nanostics Inc.) developed ClarityDX Prostate, a blood test designed to accurately diagnose aggressive prostate cancer. ClarityDX Prostate will give clinicians and physicians another tool to help them and their patients decide to perform a biopsy, or not. When the test becomes commercially available it is expected to reduce the number of prostate biopsies by 50 per cent.
In 2018, BioAlberta honoured Dr. Lewis and his team with its Scientific Achievement and Innovation Award.