Preventive Oncology

Dr. Christine Friedenreich, Division Head

The Division of Preventive Oncology in the Dept. of Oncology, University of Calgary includes ten Cancer Epidemiologists and Biostatisticians. These individuals are trained in epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioural sciences, nutrition and basic sciences. Most members have their primary affiliation in Alberta Health Services with some members also from the Universities of Athabasca and Toronto. Many members have other adjunct appointments in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine and also in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

Members of the division conduct investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed research across the continuum of cancer control including cancer etiology, prevention and control with a particular focus on identifying and understanding of modifiable risk factors in reducing cancer burden.


Researchers within the Division of Preventive Oncology apply multidisciplinary approaches in epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioural sciences, nutrition and basic sciences to research questions within cancer epidemiology, prevention, screening and control with the goal of making a significant impact on reducing cancer burden. We have established a strong core unit of support staff in epidemiology, statistics and data support, which increases the productivity and impact of our research. Our scientists contribute to the development of the Alberta Cancer Research Biorepository of serum, plasma, DNA and tumor tissue to support molecular epidemiologic studies.

Many members of the Division are involved with the Alberta Tomorrow Project, launched as a cohort study in Alberta in 2000, which then became part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project.  This prospective cohort study provides biospecimens and health and lifestyle data for 300,000 men and women aged 35-65 years. It is a rich resource to understand the causes of cancer and other chronic health conditions.

Strategic Plan

Vision: To be the leading centre for cancer epidemiology and prevention research in Canada.

Mission: To generate knowledge in cancer epidemiology and prevention that will make a significant impact on reducing cancer burden.

Our goals are to:

  • Expand the interdisciplinary research activities and research capacity in molecular cancer epidemiology, biostatistics and areas of current strength in modifiable lifestyle risk factors for cancer;
  • Increase the productivity, profile, relevance and impact of the research conducted within the Division by maintaining and expanding the infrastructure for preventive oncology research and by engaging in educational and other knowledge transfer activities;
  • To be actively engaged in establishing strategic directions and priorities for cancer prevention and control activities at multiple levels and to ensure an alignment of our research activities with these priorities.


Members of the Division of Preventive Oncology are involved in teaching at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level in a variety of departments and programs at the University of Calgary and supervise students at the graduate and postdoctoral level. Students from the Bachelor of Health Sciences, Community Health Sciences, Medical Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Kinesiology and other programs participate in educational and training programs in cancer epidemiology and biostatistics.


Our research program reaches across the entire spectrum of cancer development and progression with an increasing focus on molecular epidemiology.  Integration of molecular ways of studying cancer with epidemiological methods allow scientists to increase their understanding of how lifestyle and cancer risk are related and can lead to earlier detection, improved treatment and improved outcomes. Areas of focus of division members includes the role of modifiable lifestyle risk factors in cancer etiology and control with a strong focus on physical activity and nutrition, molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in cancer etiology, progression, recurrence and survival, and statistical methods in genetic epidemiology.


Dr. Christine Friedenreich holds the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer Chair in Breast Cancer funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation and received the O. Harold Warwick Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society in 2013. Recognizing her expertise in physical activity research, Christine and her network of collaborators continue to be research leaders and pioneers in the area of physical activity and breast cancer prevention and control.