B.C. cancer researcher named one of Chatelaine’s Women of the Year

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BC Scientist named one of Chatelaine’s Women of the Year
WATCH: BC Scientist named one of Chatelaine's Women of the Year – Dec 4, 2019

One of B.C.’s most accomplished and respected cancer researchers has added another honour to her list of accolades.

Dr. Connie Eaves has been named one of Chatelaine’s Women of the Year for her groundbreaking research into leukemia and breast cancer.

A professor of medical genetics at UBC, Eaves is also a co-founder of the Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency; she may also the agency’s longest serving employee, with 45 years of experience.

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In her decades of research Eaves has become a world authority on stem cells. She’s also racked up a number of awards, including an induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in May.

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Speaking with Global News Morning BC, Eaves said she’s proud her career has helped showcase B.C.’s cutting-edge life sciences to the world.

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“I’m very proud of the fact that I’m a woman and I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and it shows young girls and even men for that matter, that this is a place where you can grow and achieve,” said Eaves.

Eaves has also developed a reputation as a mentor, encouraging women to get into the fields of science and technology. According to Chatelaine, she’s trained more than 100 scientists in her career.

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She said developing those relationships, which have often blossomed into friendships and productive professional associations, has been one of the most important parts of her career.

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“It’s like a dream. You have to be motivated, you have to be competitive. It’s very hard,” she said.

“I often say to people wanting to start, ‘Research is all about failure. If we knew the answers, we would already have found them.’ So it is a struggle, like anything difficult, with high rewards.”

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According to the BC Cancer Agency, Eaves’ research has advanced therapies for people with chronic myelogenous leukemia, and has identified “quiescent” CML stem cells — a hallmark of many kinds of chemo-resistant cancer stem cells.

She said one of the joys of science is stumbling across those things you don’t expect.

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“We never thought there was a stem cell in the breast until we started thinking ‘maybe there is,’ and it turns out there was,” she said.

“So I encourage anyone who has that burning flame inside them, pursue that dream.”

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