20 years of Alberta’s Tomorrow Project

Alberta’s largest research platform reflects on two decades since its inception

Alberta’s Tomorrow Project (ATP) launched in 2001, making history as the province’s largest health research platform. Dr. Heather Bryant, former Vice-President of the Alberta Cancer Board and current Expert Advisor, Cancer Control with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, created this platform, with the goal of tracking thousands of adults over 50 years to better understand cancer and chronic disease, and how our genetics, lifestyle and behaviours could influence our health outcomes.

In 2001, the steep climb to recruiting Albertans began. The project garnered strong interest from the beginning, with Albertans motivated by the opportunity to contribute to individual’s health and wellness for generations to come. By 2015, the project surpassed its goal, recruiting 55,000 men and women.

“If you look back to where we first started, and see how far we’ve come 20 years later, it’s amazing to see how Albertans responded to this call to action, to see the commitment of our participants and funders over time, and to see the data being used on provincial, national and international levels for a wide variety of topics,” stated Dr. Jennifer Vena, the project’s Scientific Director and Lead Investigator since 2017. “We’re so proud of how far we’ve come and excited of where we’ll go over the next 20-30 years. Hopefully Albertans are proud of this provincial program too!  The ATP platform has tremendous potential to impact research in cancer and chronic disease in Alberta, especially as the program continues to take on new projects that will only increase the value of the platform.”

Even in recent years, ATP’s value continues to be realized. When the pandemic struck, the team responded, with a commitment to leverage the ATP program to work provincially and nationally to better understand the COVID-19 virus. ATP launched the COVID-19 questionnaire and the COVID-19 Antibody Testing (CAT) sub-study more than a year ago to not only learn more about the virus , but to also gain insight into how the pandemic has impacted mental health, lifestyle, behaviours and those with chronic health conditions. Through its partnership with CanPath, and the seven regional cohorts, the reach of this work goes beyond Alberta’s borders, and is having a national impact.

One thing is for sure, and that is the next 30 years of ATP hold much promise for innovative research that will support cancer and chronic disease, and improve how we prevent, diagnose, care and treat these conditions. With the passion and commitment of its team, and dedicated and engaged participants, support from funders and stakeholders, ATP is becoming a leader in health research on a national scale.

To learn more about ATP’s research platform and to apply for data and/or biosample access, please visit www.myatp.ca.