PanCanadian Urachal Cancer Study (PUCS)

The world’s first Urachal tumour DNA sequencing project was presented to the Canadian Urological Association by oncologist Dr. Normand Blais in July 2014 and was officially launched at the GU Medical Oncologists of Canada conference in June 2015. Dr. Blais and his team are collecting tumours from Canadian hospitals to search for commonalities among urachal tumours and other cancers, eventually enabling more targeted therapies for patients.

Funds raised though the Urachal Cancer Research Fund will be used to support this project.

Research Team


Dr. Normand Blais, directeur du laboratoire d'hémostase et thrombose au CHUM

Dr. Normand Blais, Principal Investigator
Hematologist and Medical Oncologist CHUM – Notre-Dame Hospital
Montreal, QC

After completing his medical degree at the Université de Sherbrooke in 1990, Dr. Blais trained in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology at the Université de Montréal. Thereafter, he took a year’s sabbatical to receive specialized training at McMaster University where he completed a Master’s degree in Physiology. He currently practices at the CHUM’s Cancer Centre where he is Chair of the thoracic oncology program, director of the thoracic oncology fellowship program and director of the clinical research unit. He also serves on the genitourinary oncology team.

Dr. Blais is the vice-president and webmaster of GEOQ, the Oncology Task Force of Quebec (Groupe d’étude en oncologie du Québec, please visit since its creation in 1998. He participated as an organizer and speaker in several of the workshops sponsored by GEOQ, as well as in many other continuing medical education events. He is principal investigator in many studies related to lung cancer, cancer of the pleura and bladder cancer. He holds a position as Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal.

Dr. Leon Van Kempen,Co-Investigator Department of Pathology, McGill University; Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital

Dr. Leon Van Kempen,Co-Investigator
Department of Pathology, McGill University; Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital
Montreal, QC

Dr. Van Kempen received his Ph.D.cum laude in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in 2001. There, he studied mechanisms of ALCAM-mediated cell adhesion and its contribution to cutaneous melanoma cell invasion and metastasis. After two years of postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Lisa Coussens at the University of California in San Francisco, where he studied the role of extracellular matrix remodeling on squamous cell carcinoma development and progression, he returned to Radboud University, at its Department of Pathology, in 2002, and was appointed Associate Professor in 2008. His studies focused on cutaneous melanoma and gynecological cancers. In September 2010, he was recruited by McGill’s Department of Pathology, where he continuous to study cutaneous melanoma. Dr. Van Kempen currently studies novel tumor suppressor genes with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic targets that are applicable, not only for melanoma, but a wide variety of cancers.

Dr. Van Kempen was the co-founder and co-chair of the Young Investigator Network of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer – Melanoma Group (EORTC-MG) from 2006 to 2012.

He has been a member of its Pathology Committee since 2008 and chair of its Translation Research Committee since 2012.

Dr. Zineb Hamilou, Study Coordinator

Dr. Hamilou completed her medical degree in hematology and oncology at Université de Montréal in 2014. She has a special interest in genitourinary oncology and will be following a two year  fellowship at Institut Gustave Roussy (Paris, France) to specialize in genito-urinary oncology. She will be returning to practice in Montreal.

Advisory Board


Arlene Siefker

Dr. Arlene Siefker-Radtke
Associate Professor, Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine,
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre
Houston, TX

Arlene Siefker-Radtke specializes in the treatment of urothelial malignancies including rare bladder tumors and urachal carcinoma.1-3 She is the principal investigator on many investigator-initiated trials, with a focus on innovative clinical trial designs to develop novel agents in the management of urothelial cancer.  Working closely with colleagues in the Department of Urology, she is a Clinical Co-Leader on the Bladder Cancer SPORE at M. D. Anderson.  When not thinking about bladder cancer, she enjoys raising twin girls and a son.

  1.  Siefker-Radtke AO, Gee J, Shen Y, et al: Multimodality management of urachal carcinoma: the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center experience. Journal of Urology 169:1295-8, 2003
  2. Siefker-Radtke A: Urachal carcinoma: surgical and chemotherapeutic options. Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 6:1715-21, 2006
  3. Siefker-Radtke A: Urachal adenocarcinoma: a clinician’s guide for treatment. Seminars in Oncology 39:619-24, 2012
Dr. Franck Bladou
Professor, Department of Surgery/Urology and Oncology, McGill University
Director of onco-urology, Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital
Montreal, QC

Prof. Franck Bladou graduated from the University of Bordeaux Medical School in France in 1984 and completed his urology residency training at University of the Mediterranean, Marseilles in 1990.  He then pursued a 3-year clinical fellowship in Marseilles and a 18-month research fellowship in prostate cancer at the University of Washington, Seattle.  In 1997 he was appointed Full Professor of Urology at University of the Mediterranean and followed his career as a clinical urologic oncologist, teacher and researcher in the university hospital and in the regional cancer center as Director of the uro-oncology team in Marseilles.  In 2007 he became the Head of the Department of Urology at Sainte Marguerite hospital in Marseilles. Finally, in 2010 he was appointed the Chief of the Department of Urology at the Jewish General Hospital and Full Professor of surgery (Urology) and Oncology at McGill University.

Prof. Bladou has obtained independent peer-reviewed grants from several organizations including the French Institut National du Cancer.  He is currently reviewer for several journals including European Urology. In 2004 he was a founding member of the Collaborative Prostate Brachytherapy Group, a European-based Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy Database involving 5 European countries. Since 2005, he is a member of the board of the European Society of Onco-Urology (ESOU) in the European Urological Association (EAU).  His surgical expertise and proctorship are in the field of laparoscopy, robotic surgery and brachytherapy. He is actively involved in French and European teaching programs for residents, in national guidelines for urological cancer surgery quality insurance.

Wassim Kassouf

Dr. Wassim Kassouf
Director, McGill Urology Training Program
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery (Urology), McGill University
Attending surgeon, McGill University Health Centre
Montreal, QC

Dr Wassim Kassouf completed a clinical and research fellowship in urologic oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas following medical school and urology residency at McGill University. He then arrived back on faculty at the McGill University Health Center in 2006. Dr. Kassouf’s clinical practice focuses on all aspects of urologic oncology (including bladder, prostate, renal, and testes cancer) whereas his research focuses on bladder cancer. Presently, he is the Program Director of the McGill Urology Residency. He also serves as the chair of the MUHC Urology Quality of Care Assurance committee and a member of the Royal College Urology Specialty committee as well as the Royal College Examination board committee.

He has led several national guidelines for optimizing quality of care in urologic cancer management and has published over 230 peer-review manuscripts and book chapters. He has obtained independent peer-reviewed grant funding from the CRS and CIHR. He is an associate editor for BMC Urology and is on the editorial board of Urology, CUAJ, Clinical Cancer Investigation Journal, and International Brazilian Journal of Urology. He is a course director on bladder and upper tract cancers at the SIU and AUA. He is the founder of the national Canadian Bladder Cancer Network, a cofounder of Bladder Cancer Canada, chair of the National Cancer Institute of Canada’s disease-oriented group in bladder cancer, Vice-President (communications) of the Canadian Urological Association, and an executive member of the NIH Genitourinary steering committee Bladder Cancer Task Force. Dr Kassouf is a graduate of the AUA Leadership Program and received several awards including the American Urological Association Research Scholar Award, Canadian Urological Association Scholarship Award, FRSQ Clinician Scientist Research Scholar Award, and the Everett C. Reid Teaching Excellence Award.

Gerry Batist

Dr. Gerry Batist
Director, Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Oncology, McGill University
Director, Department of Oncology, McGill University
Director, McGill Centre for Translational Research in Cancer
Montreal, QC

Dr. Gerald Batist is Chairman of the Department of Oncology, McGill University. He is also Director of the McGill Centre for Translational Research in Cancer, which was established to stimulate rapid translation of new discoveries in the research laboratory into clinical benefits for patients. A major award from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation led to the expansion of the Translational Research Centre into the Montreal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer, which is a major component of the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital.

Dr. Gerald Batist is a Professor in the McGill University Departments of Medicine and Oncology and the McGill Cancer Centre as well as an Associate Member of the Division of Experimental Medicine the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and the McGill Nutrition and Food Sciences Centre. He is an associate member of the Department of Pharmacology at the Université de Montréal.

In his capacity as Chairman of Oncology, he has nurtured the development of a number of multidisciplinary programs that have been highly innovative and amongst the first of their kind in Canada.

Dr. Batist is a member of scholarly associations, serves on editorial boards and on advisory committees.

He has a highly successful laboratory and clinical research program, with over 140 scientific publications and a number of book chapters relating to his research interests.  He has trained a large number of scientists and clinical oncologists, and also practices medical oncology.