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Nicole Onetto - Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Toronto, ON, CA

Nicole Onetto

Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer | Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Toronto, ON, CANADA

Dr. Onetto is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with cancer research stakeholders.



Dr. Nicole Onetto was appointed Deputy Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research on November 2, 2009. As Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Onetto works with OICR’s program and platform leaders to determine strategic directions and priorities of the Institute’s research programs. She is providing direct oversight of the OICR operations support teams.

Dr. Onetto is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with cancer research stakeholders including partner organizations, collaborative clinical trials groups, Cancer Care Ontario, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and academic institutions.

Previously, Dr. Onetto was the Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer of ZymoGenetics, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in protein therapeutics.

From 2002 to 2005 Dr. Onetto was the Executive Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., where she led the clinical development which led to the approval of Tarceva® for non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

Prior to this Dr. Onetto served approximately three years with Gilead Sciences, Inc. as Senior Vice-President, Medical Affairs and as Vice-President, Medical Affairs. Prior to the merger of Gilead and NeXstar, Dr. Onetto was Vice-President, Medical Affairs for NeXstar Pharmaceuticals. There she was responsible for the strategy/implementation and coordination of all clinical trials worldwide bringing many potential products into development.

From January 1995 to May 1997, Dr. Onetto served as Senior Director Medical Affairs for the European oncology division of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). During this assignment with BMS, she was responsible for the coordination of all European oncology clinical trials from phase I to phase IV for all oncology BMS products. From July 1991 to January 1995, Dr. Onetto was Director, Clinical Cancer Research for BMS. While at BMS she was the International Project Leader for Taxol® and was responsible for the filing of the initial NDA for Taxol® and several supplemental NDAs. During her tenure at BMS she worked very closely with the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

Before this appointment, she held positions at Immunex Research and Development Corp. and Hoechst Canada, Inc.

Industry Expertise (3)

Advanced Medical Equipment

Health and Wellness


Areas of Expertise (5)



Clinical Research

Lung Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Education (2)

Université PARIS V: MD., Pediatrics & Oncology

Université de Montréal: M.Sc., Pharmacology

Media Appearances (5)

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research invests $52 million in translational cancer research

CNW  online


"Cancer is a deadly disease that affects millions of people around the globe," said Dr. Nicole Onetto, Deputy Director of OICR. "But we now know that cancer is in fact many different diseases that require more targeted, precise tools for diagnosis and treatment. Funding today will help us to develop these tools to find cancers earlier and help characterize treatment for aggressive and non-aggressive disease. This will enable us to have an effect on patient care in the short term."...

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Ontario Institute for Cancer Research selected as coordinating centre for Canadian cancer clinical trials

CNW  online


Dr. Nicole Onetto, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), today announced that OICR has been selected by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) to develop the coordinating centre for the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (CCCTN). Dr. Janet Dancey, OICR's Director of the High Impact Clinical Trials Program, will be the Scientific Director and lead the CCCTN coordinating centre. The collaborating organizations are the NCIC Clinical Trials Group and N2 (Network of Networks)...

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Merck Serono Announces Initiation of Second Phase II/III Clinical Study of Atacicept in Lupus

PR Newswire  online


"Our development program, evaluating both lupus nephritis and SLE, gives us the opportunity to assess broad utility in treating lupus," said Nicole Onetto, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of ZymoGenetics. "The mechanism of action of atacicept, inhibiting the two growth factors BLyS and APRIL that are known to have an impact on disease progression, is the basis for studying atacicept in SLE, and our research may lead to a new therapy for patients with lupus."...

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New funding pledged for targeted treatments for cancer patients

The Globe and Mail  online


“In many cases, we are using some drugs for the wrong patient or the wrong tumour, or we’re using drugs for far too long when they’re not benefiting the patients,” said OICR’s deputy director, Nicole Onetto This grant, she said, will help fix that...

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OICR funds prostrate cancer study to identify aggressive vs. non-aggressive disease

CNW  online


Dr. Nicole Onetto, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), today announced the launch of an innovative Phase III clinical trial that aims to determine whether multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) coupled with transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) guided biopsy (called fusion technology) can accurately identify men with prostate cancer who are at risk of developing aggressive disease...

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Articles (5)

Pancreatic cancer genomes reveal aberrations in axon guidance pathway genes



Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal malignancy with few effective therapies. We performed exome sequencing and copy number analysis to define genomic aberrations in a prospectively accrued clinical cohort (n= 142) of early (stage I and II) sporadic pancreatic ...

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Phase I Trial of the Anti–Lewis Y Drug Immunoconjugate BR96-Doxorubicin in Patients With Lewis Y–Expressing Epithelial Tumors

Journal of Clinical Oncology


We conducted a phase I clinical trial of BR96-Doxorubicin (BR96-Dox), a chimeric anti–Lewis Y (Le Y) monoclonal antibody conjugated to doxorubicin, in patients whose tumors expressed the Le Y antigen. The study aimed to determine the toxicity, ...

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Randomized phase II study of BR96-doxorubicin conjugate in patients with metastatic breast cancer

Journal of Clinical Oncology


BMS-182248-1 (BR96-doxorubicin immunoconjugate) is a chimeric human/mouse monoclonal antibody linked to approximately eight doxorubicin molecules. The antibody is directed against the Lewis-Y antigen, which is expressed on 75% of all ...

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Taxol: the first of the taxanes, an important new class of antitumor agents

Seminars in Oncology


The taxanes represent the first class of antimicrotubule agents with a new mechanism of cytotoxic action since the introduction of the vinca alkaloids several decades ago. These compounds may prove to be the "anticancer drugs of the 1990s," just as the ...

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Recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor after autologous bone marrow transplantation for lymphoid cancer

New England Journal of Medicine


The period of neutropenia after autologous bone marrow transplantation results in substantial morbidity and mortality. The results of previous phase I-II clinical trials suggest that recombinant human granulocytemacrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM ...

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