Each year, a jury of researchers and science journalists selects Québec Science magazine’s top 10 discoveries of the year. Then readers vote on their single favourite—and the 2008 top honour goes to Dr. Janusz Rak and his team for their discovery of a new way that tumour cells communicate. The researchers found that the cells release bubble-like structures called oncosomes that contain cancer-causing proteins, which affect neighbouring cells, a radical departure from the traditional view that a single “mutated” cell will simply multiply uncontrollably to the point of forming a tumour. Rak is a professor in pediatric oncology at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and a researcher at the Research Institute of the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC; his Québec Science win was recognized with an afternoon party in the hospital’s lobby on April 30, 2009.
Dr. Rak’s research receives funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cole Foundation, the Cancer Research Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.