Vancouver Prostate Centre

The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
What the facility does

Integrated translational research, target and drug discovery, validation, pre-clinical testing and clinical research

Areas of expertise

The Vancouver Prostate Centre is a world-leading cancer research facility with an outstanding team of scientists and clinicians. Through the Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development (PC-TRiADD), we integrate critical components of translational research under one organization, facilitating seamless management of the complex processes involved in discovery research, pre-clinical drug development, and clinical trials, in close partnership with national clinical trials and research networks, as well as industry.

PC-TRiADD leverages its translational research pipeline to drive discoveries from the lab to the clinic and marketplace.  More details descriptions of each of our research cores are listed below. 

The Peter Black Lab is associated with the Vancouver Prostate Centre. 

Research services

Pre-clinical Pharmacology
Drug target identification and characterization; computational drug discovery (virtual screening, combinatorial library construction, structure-activity modelling); computer-aided hit-to-lead optimization (ADME and toxicity prediction, bioavailability and selectivity optimization); biomarker assay development; single agent studies and combination studies; pharmacodynamic and biomarker analysis of novel drugs in human clinical trials; living tumour laboratory; rapid and comprehensive evaluation of novel small molecules and biologics in preclinical model systems (cytotoxicity/clonogenic/ biomarker and drug-target and off-target interaction assays/drug-drug interactions/in vitro and in vivo tumour cell lines/GC/LC-MS assays for GLP studies)

Genomic Analysis
Agilent Microarray Services (Certified Service Provider):
Gene, exons and non-coding expression analysis; array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH); catalogue and custom designs available

Next Generation Sequencing: 

Life Technologies Ion Proton – up to 80M reads per run, from 2x50bp to 2x300bp PE; Illumina MiSeq – a selection of 1M, 4M, 15M or 25M reads per run, from 2x50bp to 2x300 bp;q Applications: Exome sequencing; amplicon sequencing including 16S rRNA genes; target capture sequencing; RNA sequencing (quantitation); RNA sequencing (transcriptome); small RNA sequencing; microbial and viral whole genome sequencing, including metagenomics


Acquisition, processing, statistical analysis, integration, and visualization of high-density genomic and transcriptome data from simple to complex experimental designs using one of several platforms; utilization of software that allows seamless cross-platform integration and analysis of expression, genomic, and next generations sequence data, making possible extremely powerful and comprehensive studies

DNA/RNA isolation and analysis; immunohistochemistry – single staining and double staining; immunohistochemistry biomarker evaluation; in situ immunofluorescence;  molecular cytogenetics, including FISH and CISH; in situ toxicology analysis; in situ proximity-ligation analysis;  histology including immunohistochemistry and tissue microarray (TMA) construction; cellular and molecular imaging; image storage service; digital image analysis; whole mount tissue analysis; protocol optimization


The Vancouver Prostate Centre’s collection includes the world’s largest repository of the following: pre- and post-treated prostate cancers, including tumours stratified from low to high risk (matched primary and metastatic tumours); treatment resistant cancers fully annotated for previous therapies, responses, stage, and prognostic indicators, and biomarkers .

Clinical Trials
Coordination of Phase I though IV clinical trials; pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and biomarker studies; proof-of-concept trials; standardized protocols for adjuvant drug studies prior to radical prostatectomy (allowing tissue analysis following drug exposure); safety/efficacy studies with single agent or combination therapies; long-term surveillance studies; QOL and outcome studies; development of clinical trial protocols; preparation of regulatory and ethical documentation for submission to Health Canada and Institutional Review Boards (IRBs); negotiation of clinical trial agreements and budgets; development of study-specific SOPs; collection, entry, processing and analysis of clinical trial data and patient-derived samples (experience with both paper and electronic CRFs); preparation of clinical study reports; access to national and international multi-centre networks for GU tumor clinical trials

Clinical Assay Laboratory:

Biomarker and assay development; human CTC assays; human plasma and serum ELISA assays: single and multiplex

Sectors of application
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Specialized lab



Pre-Clinical Pharmacology


PC-TRiADD’s comprehensive Pharmacology and Drug Design unit helps clients to identify novel drug candidates using methods of computational drug design and cheminformatics, followed by hit-to-lead optimization combined with comprehensive experimental evaluation of pharmacological activity. Our expert team is experienced in both computational and experimental aspects of conventional drug discovery and can seamlessly integrate their services with PC-TRiADD’s other units to provide all the necessary components of focused translational research.


Waters LC-MS suite including: SYNAPT HDMS with Maldi Quattro Premier Mass Spectrometer


Two ACQUITY UPLC systems, one with fluorescence detector and one with PDA detector Alliance HPLC System


Alliance LC-MS with PDA flow scintillation analyzer


Software supporting platform use and analysis

Rapid and comprehensive evaluation of novel small molecules and biologics


ForteBio Octet RED System

Determination of protein-protein interaction; evaluation of parameters such as binding affinity, selectivity and kinetics between target proteins and small molecule inhibitors


Xenogen Lumina II

In vivo fluorescent and bioluminescent imaging


Xenogen Spectrum

In vivo fluorescent and bioluminescent imaging with 3D imaging


ProteinSimple NanoPro 1000

Quantitative protein analysis for expression and post-translational modifications on small volume samples


Roche xCELLigence System

Label-free real time analyzer for performing continuous monitoring of changes in cell status, including cell number, cell viability, cell morphology, and cell migration


BD FACSCanto II flow cytometer



Tecan plate Infinite 200 fluorescence/luminescence plate reader

For evaluation of activity in reporter-based assays


Tecan F500 multidetection microplate reader

For the determination of small molecules compounds inhibition using transcription assays in cell lines; also the determination of binding parameters using fluorescence polarization values of peptides bound to target proteins

Living Tumour Laboratory


The Living Tumor Lab is a unique and valuable resource, which grows a wide variety of patient-derived cancer tissues, including both low and high-grade solid cancers.

This work enables researchers to readily study human cancer tissue in vivo and develop a variety of transplantable tumour tissue lines that can be used as models for studying cancer growth/progression/metastasis and drug sensitivity.


Laboratory for Advanced Genome Analysis


As one of PC-TRiADD’s key services, the Laboratory for Advanced Genome Analysis (LAGA) offers rapid, economical, tailored microarray, sequencing and bioinformatics expertise to small or large-scale projects. Serving academic and private-sector groups, our highly trained personnel will provide recommendations to ensure the best possible use of genomics and transcriptomics technology. We also offer solutions for the profiling of FFPE tissues and a complete, project-tailored downstream bioinformatics analysis of microarray and sequencing data.

LAGA offers economically priced services based on a cost-recovery, not-for-profit model. Our ongoing internal and external collaborations allow our facility to continually improve and expand both its R&D capabilities, and its access to state-of-the-art equipment and software, which in turn, benefits our clients.


Agilent Microarray system

As a certified service provider, we provide support for all Agilent microarray applications

Molecular Pathology and Applied Genomics



PC-TRiADD supports a molecular pathology and applied genomics core facility, which offers clinical grade, high throughput analytical services with fast turnaround times. Our unique access to live human tumour tissues, allows for identification of new tumour targets, validation of function, and development of tumour models.


Ventana DISCOVERY XT and Ventana DISCOVERY Ultra

Fully automated IHC and IHS staining


Vectra 2.0 Imager

Multispectral fluorescence microscope slide analysis system with automated high-throughput imaging capabilities


Leica SCN400 digital slide scanner with autoloader

High-throughput scanner for full section slides, whole mount slides and TMAs

Cellular and Molecular Imaging


The Cellular and Molecular Imaging Suite supports the use of state-of-the-art bright field, laser scanning and spinning disk confocal fluorescent microscopic imaging technologies for cellular and subcellular localization studies of molecules and pathways critical to prostate cancer cell growth and survival. These imaging systems are used to monitor cellular expression and localization of proteins, which enable studies of the role of these factors in regulation of tumour cell growth, survival and differentiation signalling pathways.


Zeiss 780 laser scanning confocal



Zeiss Axio Observer spinning disc confocal




The Vancouver Prostate Centre has a tumour bank that contains well over 2000 prostate cancer specimens (both fresh frozen and paraffin embedded). This tumour bank has an integrated database that is overseen by a full-time coordinator, along with a full-time research pathologist and staff.

Clinical Trials


Clinical Trials are a core service at PC-TRiADD and are conducted in close partnership with the BC Cancer Agency, national and international clinical trials networks, and industry partners. These networks serve to enhance enrollment in our clinical trials, while the structure of the Canadian medical system and centralized treatment centres such as ours mean that patient follow-up information is closely tracked.

By combining the genitourinary research programs at the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the BC Cancer Agency, clinical trial patients can participate in a full range of investigational studies. Last year PC-TRiADD initiated 15 new clinical trials.

Our networks have performed numerous co-operative group and industry-sponsored trials, involving well-known pharmaceutical and biotech companies. In addition, this group has sponsored clinical trial submissions to Health Canada and has been successfully audited by regulatory agencies including Health Canada and US FDA.

Clinical Assay Laboratory


Clinical trials are supported by our Clinical Assay Laboratory, which specializes in enumeration of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) by using CellSearch ®  Platform  (Veridex). Circulating tumour cells are cancer cells that have detached from the main tumour before entering the bloodstream. This cell type represents an important transition in cancer transformation and metastasis, and portends significant clinical impact in diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and monitoring.


Veridex Cell Track Autoprep and Analyzer II CTC System


  • Pfizer Inc.
  • AstraZeneca Canada
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd
  • Janssen Inc.
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
  • GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
  • Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Astellas Pharma Canada Inc.
  • DelMar Pharmaceuticals Inc
  • D-Wave Systems Inc.
  • Essa Pharma Inc.
  • GenomeDX Biosciences Inc.
  • IBM Canada Ltd.
  • Sitka Biopharma Inc.
  • Aranda Pharma Ltd.
  • Autodesk Inc.
  • Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • CellCentric Ltd
  • F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
  • Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Orion Canada Inc.
  • Var2 Pharmaceuticals ApS



Prostate Centre Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development

Pre-Clinical Pharmacology

Living Tumour Laboratory

Laboratory for Advanced Genome Analysis

Molecular Pathology and Applied Genomics


Clinical Trials

Clinical Assay Laboratory