Guelph Researcher Awarded Grant From Brain Tumour Foundation

June 24, 2009 - In the News

A University of Guelph scientist examining how signalling pathways between cells can go awry and lead to cancer and other ailments has received a grant from the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

Nina Jones, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, received $25,000 toward brain tumour research, one of six grants awarded across the country by the foundation. The grant will support her investigations into the role of a specific protein in the formation of tumours and its implications for potential treatments.

“Our preliminary results have found that a particular gene is up-regulated or overexpressed in a variety of different types of brain tumours compared with normal brain tissue,” said Jones. The same protein has been identified in melanoma cancers of the skin, where it helps to spread malignant cells to other parts of the body, she added.

The funding will pay for samples of different types of brain tumours supplied by the Brain Tumour Tissue Bank in London, Ont.

The project builds on research by Guelph PhD student Melanie Wills, this year’s recipient of the W.C. Winegard Medal, the university’s top undergraduate convocation award. Wills, a President’s Scholar and the first B.Sc. graduate to move straight into the PhD program in molecular and cellular biology, reported findings on the overexpression of the signalling protein in brain tumours while still an undergraduate working in Jones’s lab. The funding will help support her PhD research.

“Cancer can occur when various communication pathways in the cell operate at the wrong time or place,” said Wills. “Understanding the molecular signalling components of these pathways and how they behave under normal and cancerous conditions gives us a better picture of how cells communicate messages and how the normal process can go awry in disease.”

Jones’s lab is supported by a five-year $520,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Last fall, she was awarded more than $300,000 in infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, including provincial and University contributions. In 2007, she received an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

For more information, contact Prof. Nina Jones at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53643, or For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

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