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Innovations in Oncology 2024

Global cancer research conference highlights novel therapeutic strategies and patient voice

Dr Marie McIlroy

Senior Lecturer, Department of Surgery, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Sudipto Das

Lecturer and Deputy Head of School of Post-graduate studies, RCSI

An international conference emphasises translational research, collaboration and cutting-edge advancements across various cancer fields. It included plenary talks and patient involvement, aiming to improve cancer patient outcomes.

The European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in collaboration with the Irish Association for Cancer Research (IACR) delivered a stellar instalment of their Basic and Translational Research Conference series with a joint conference in Dublin, Ireland held 27–29 February 2024[AO1] . 

International cancer research collaboration

Gathering top experts in the fields of immunology, drug development, tumour microenvironment, genomics and epigenetics, this joint conference had a strong translational element focused on the delivery of the latest discoveries from basic science to the clinic. The conference attracted over 500 national and international delegates with the celebratory IACR 60th Anniversary Special Symposium.

A specific focus of the meeting was to enhance the all-Ireland collaboration in cancer research led by Prof Mark Lawlor (QUB) and Prof Liam Gallagher (UCD), with support from key organisations in the United States including the National Cancer Institute. This session provided a showcase of collaborative Irish research. Speakers at this celebratory session included contributions from GE Healthcare, the United States Government as well as principal investigators who have led international consortia.

The focus on ‘no research about me without
me’ is central to all research endeavours.

Cutting-edge concepts and poster presentations

Subsequent sessions highlighted the latest cutting-edge advances in the understanding of the genomics, epigenetics and molecular pathways involved in the development of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions and/or in cancer response to therapy. The scientific programme provided a blend of basic and translational research from preclinical models to patients. In particular, these talks delivered by experts included novel concepts, such as digital twins, demonstrating the side effects of immunotherapy as well as an insight into immune regulation of cancer progression.

In addition to the plenary and selected abstract-based talks, the conference showcased a wide array of poster presentations from national and international researchers spanning various career stages. These poster sessions provided an important networking opportunity for early career researchers in particular.

Highlighting the patient voice

A key aspect of this conference involved a very strong representation of the patient voice, which was led out by the local IACR organising committee and their Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) council members. The PPI and patient voice are integral elements, and the focus on ‘no research about me without me’ is central to all research endeavours.  PPI council members were a visible presence throughout the conference with a lively stand in the exhibitor hall.

Taken together, this international meeting represented the strong translational research being carried out both within Ireland and internationally, to improve outcomes for cancer patients.

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