The 22nd Biennial Congress of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) From Basic Research to Personalised Cancer Treatment, supported by the Spanish Association for Cancer Research (ASEICA), has been engineered to provide the platform and educational formula to do what EACR continues to do best, namely, promote the advancement of cancer research from basic research to prevention, treatment and care.
Delivering on this mission, EACR convenes the European cancer research community at its biennial EACR Congresses famed for their programmes of scientific excellence which are carefully planned to respond to the rapidly changing times in oncology. It is however no longer about the debate and exchange between the cancer researchers. It´s all about unravelling, connecting and translating the bench, bedside and the ´byte´ – a flow of knowledge so eloquently described by EACR´s Past President Anne-Lise Børresen-Dale in an ecancerTV interview with Gordon McVie.
The latest advances in research must consequently continue to be applied at clinical level and back again within a multidisciplinary setting that best fosters the smooth and speedy interplay between all involved. The outcomes of such optimal exchange must be harnessed, presented, discussed and improved upon – the raison d´être behind the EACR Congresses, the reasons why we will all be in Barcelona, 7 – 10 July 2012.
The Programme attractions are too many to mention here yet, thanks to its structure – the organised daily parallel ´trios´of Educational Lectures, Meet the Expert Sessions, and Symposia (2 runs of three symposia am and pm), the daily Plenaries and Award Lectures, navigation is a thankful task. The only problem that I see is actually trying to decide on what not to attend! With so many highlights within hot topic areas, we will have to make difficult choices when planning our EACR 22 meeting agendas.
I would like to share with you just some of my many must-attends:
Traditional crowd-drawers, the EACR 22 Plenaries will of course represent exceptional educational opportunities for all. While it´s too early for me to advance further details at this stage, I must begin at the end by highlighting the Mike Price Gold Medal Lecture: The Future of Personalised Medicine to be delivered by ´personalised visionary´ J. Baselga, taking place at the Closing Session, Tuesday 10 July.
Educational Lectures: talking about a revolution?
Sunday morning´s lecture to be given by H. Yang on Sequencing is one of my personal picks along with Monday´s presentation on Biomarkers given their critical importance in advancing personalized medicine towards better patient selection and treatment. Tuesday´s A-Z of Clinical Trials by E. A. Eisenhauer promises insight into the very latest scientific developments to impact on and even perhaps revolutionise the future development and design of clinical trials.
The Symposia: onco-omics, novel discovery and new approaches
Following J. Massagué´s Saturday Plenary on Deconstructing Metastasis we kick off with the EACR 22 Symposia series. One of the three prestigious symposia to run in parallel will focus on Cancer Genomics and the promise that lies ahead in performing molecular diagnosis and patient stratification for personalised medicine. Symposium Chair and Speaker E. R. Mardis will be joined by C.M. Perou and C. Caldas to explore the latest in ´onco´omics as well as signpost future directions within the field.
Recent discoveries clearly show a strong relationship between ageing and cancer, even two sides of the same coin. One of the three Sunday morning Symposia will focus on this very topic showcasing the latest to emerge from the labs of M.A. Blasco and A. Brunet among others. Yet another on my not-to-be-missed list.
At a Sunday afternoon Symposium on Inflammation and Microenvironment , the conversation to be triggered by speakers including M. Karin, F. Balkwill and A. Mantovani will explore inflammation as one of the major inducers of cancer and the critical involvement of the microenvironment on tumoural behaviour.
I have the honour of speaking at one of the three Monday morning symposia dedicated to Stem Cells, chaired by A. Trumpp. Again, an area of much debate representing a new paradigm in cancer biology. The presence of cells with stem cell characteristics is changing anti-cancer therapeutic approaches and only by furthering our understanding of the biology of cancer stem cells will we continue to witness the implications at clinical level in the future.
Tumour metabolism, a new angle from which to tackle cancer, is the topic of one of the three Monday afternoon symposia. What will the latest data presented by K.Vousden, H. Keun and T.W. Mak reveal? What will they predict as future directions in this area of research?
I also take this opportunity to highlight one of the morning symposia on the Tuesday: the FEBS Molecular Oncology Supported Symposium on Personalised Medicine. T. Tursz, R. Bernards and J.C. Soria will benefit us with their experience drawing on success stories as well as underlining the pitfalls and challenges ahead that we face in the now and in the future – our era of personalised medicine.
Meet the Experts: dialogue across the floor
The EACR 22 Meet the Expert sessions provide participants with outstanding opportunity to quiz, question and converse with the experts who have been selected to present on specific topics of broad appeal, with ample time to the extend dialogue across the floor. I am particularly looking forward to the Meet the Editor with Nature´s B. Marte, Senior Editor, Cancer Research, as well as the session with C.H. Heldin on the European Research Council. These two sessions represent a unique opportunity to raise questions and issues one-to-one!
Other highlights will include How to organize cancer research – a chance to meet and learn from expert N. Jones who will be discussing how new developments in research impact on the organization of comprehensive cancer centres as well as a session with J. Reis-Filho on Molecular Diagnostics – a huge, emerging field in personalised medicine.
Engaging our young professionals
Responding to the needs of and paving the way for our younger colleagues – those who will inspire, shape and lead the oncology field in the future, is paramount. It is not a ´last on the list´ but a clear priority. EACR 22 has been designed to do just that.
Not only do we have the special Young Cancer Researcher´s Workshops to focus on important issues such as how best to apply for fellowships as well as Women in Science, EACR also offers especially reduced registration rates for our students along with a meeting bursary scheme designed to support postgraduate students and members with less than 10 years post-graduate experience who have difficulties in securing alternative funding to attend the meeting.
My selection of ´must-attends´ only provides a mere snapshot of what´s in store at EACR 22 – to find out more I invite you to download the EACR Advance Programme (visit www.eacr.org) and start planning your own Congress agenda!
I come to my Barcelona – EACR 22´s host city. When renowned chef Ferran Adría, considered one of the best chefs in the world, was filmed for a video on what he likes about Barcelona by the Institute of Spanish Tourism (TURESPAÑA – visit: http://www.spain.info/es) his list included the Barcelona skyline, Sagrada Familia, Agbar Tower, Olympic Marina, and Barça football team – ´so much more than just a club´, and I couldn´t agree with him more, especially on this last point!
At the close of the video he added ´Barcelona is the soul of the Mediterranean´. Whether you concur or not, Barcelona delights but never disappoints. Join us at EACR 22, Barcelona, 7 – 10 July 2012, to discover her for yourself.
Chair, EACR 22 Local Organising Committee
Director of the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology Translational Research Program