Greg Cairncross

J. Gregory Cairncross




Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurosciences


Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Oncology

Full Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Full Member

Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.210.3973


Office: HRIC2AA20

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Preferred method of communication

Admin Assistant
Samantha Helf

Office: 403.220.6553


Educational Background

Doctor of Medicine Medicine, University of Western Ontario, 1974



Dr. Gregory Cairncross is the former Director of the Charbonneau Cancer Institute and former Head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary. After graduating in Medicine from Western University, he trained in Internal Medicine in Toronto and in Neurology in New York, before joining the Department of Oncology at Western, where he remained until 2002. At Western, he founded the brain tumor research program, was Chair of the Department of Oncology and Director of the Cancer Centre. He was the founder of the Brain Tumor Site Group of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group and currently holds the Brain Tumor Research Chair at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Cairncross is best known for contributions to neuro-oncology. He discovered that oligodendroglioma, a type of brain cancer, is sensitive to chemotherapy, and he and David Louis co-discovered a molecular marker of their drug sensitivity. Testing for this marker is now used worldwide to guide the treatment of patients with oligodendroglioma. A trial led by Dr. Cairncross showed that patients with this genetic subtype of oligodendroglioma live twice as long when chemotherapy is a part of their treatment. His contributions to the understanding and treatment of brain cancer have been cited nearly 50,000 times.


Areas of Research

Area of Focus
  • Modeling the initiation of Glioblastoma
  • Preventing resistance to Temozolomide
Summary of Research

We have developed a new model of Glioblastoma in which the earliest stages of this cancer can be observed, investigated, and manipulated. We have also developed a new model of resistance to Temozolomide and are working to discover strategies to prevent the emergence of drug resistance.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Understanding the origins of Glioblastoma


  • Alberta Cancer Foundation Chair in Brain Tumor Research, 2003
  • Crolla Family Brain Tumor Lecture, University of Toronto, 2003
  • Award of Merit, European Association for Neuro-Oncology, 2002
  • Voynick Award for Brain Tumor Research, Yale School of Medicine, 2000
  • American Brain Tumor Association Research Excellence Award, 1998
  • Farber Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 1996
  • Member, American Neurological Association, 1992
  • Fellow, American Academy of Neurology, 1985
  • American Cancer Society, . 1981
  • Teacher Investigator Award, NINCDS, . 1981
  • MRC Centennial Fellowship, 1979
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2009
  • Killam Research Leadership Award, University of Calgary, 2010
  • ASTech Award, 2012
  • Victor Levin Award, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 2012
  • Founders Award, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, 2018
  • O.Harold Warwick Prize, Canadian Cancer Society, 2018
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 2018
  • Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2020
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Alberta Cancer Research, 2021