The 20-year journey to develop an important cancer drug

RSC Fellow and UBC professor Poul Sorensen’s discovery 20 years ago is making impacts today

Under a microscope, they looked the same. Yet in some children, the fibrous growths scientists were looking at would lead to cancer, while in other children they remained benign.

That is, until UBC professor Poul Sorensen’s team (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine) made a discovery.

That discovery, of a unique gene mutation now known to be common among up to 1% per cent of all human cancers, has led to advances in cancer treatment for children and adults alike. Sorensen was honoured for his leadership in the discovery through his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Watch the video below to learn more.


Poul Sorensen is an internationally renowned clinician-scientist whose pioneering work uncovered numerous genetic and biological drivers of aggressive childhood cancers, many of which were subsequently directly linked to the biology of adult malignancies. He was the first to show that NTRK gene fusions are recurrent oncogenic drivers, which are now estimated to occur in 1 per cent of human cancers, leading to the development of recently approved drugs to target these lesions.
— Citation from the Royal Society of Canada