In the health-care world, very exciting news about prostate cancer treatment is coming out of the University of Alberta, in partnership with the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the Cross Cancer Institute, the Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund and a spectacular fund-raising effort ($7 million) from a group of Edmontonians known as the The Bird Dogs, started by Frank Sojonky.

The announcement was made on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011.

Coming to the U of A is Dr. John Lewis and his prostate cancer research team, to a newly equipped lab at the U of A Katz Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research.  Dr. Lewis is the first occupant of the Frank and Carla Sojonky chair in Prostate Cancer Research at the university.

His prostate cancer research team has two initial projects. One is very targeted, a diagnostic test that can accurately predict if cancer originated in the prostate will spread.  Prostate cancer that does not spread is rarely a killer, therefore such a test is tremendously important in that it can flag individuals who need immediate and aggressive treatment of cancer originating in the prostate and possibly spreading.

The other is more general.  Dr. Lewis is an expert in "translational research."

The process of drug development - from the initial discovery and lab work, to tests, to clinical trials and finally to the patient  costs upwards of $650 million - yes, $650 million. Dr. Lewis' expertise lies in the field of compressing the time it takes, and the cost, of drug development. A direct application of translational research is a goal of bringing a promising prostate cancer drug to clinical trials within five years.

The "Bird Dogs" are a group of individuals headed up by Frank Sojonky and Freedom Ford's Bob Bentley that through a variety of methods, raised the astounding $7 million -  $8 million if matching funds are factored in.

Click here for the Edmonton Journal report on Dr. Lewis and the lab,  here for the press release from the U of A School of Medicine, and here for a YouTube story on Frank Sojonky and the Bird Dogs' fund-raising efforts.