24 January 2019

Highlights of the Oncode-CGC Annual Scientific meeting

Elize Brolsma

Elize Brolsma

Elize is part of Oncode’s communication team. She has over 10 years of experience in the com-munication industry, both for commercial and non-profit organisations. After obtaining her bache-lor and master degree in communication at Utrecht University, Elize worked as a communication professional at a research institute, PR agency, law firm and internet company. She has a strong focus on external communications and Public Relations. At Oncode - together with her colleagues - Elize produces the monthly newsletters for Oncode Investigators & Researchers and the Oncode digital magazine. She publishes content for the Oncode website and is responsible for all social media channels. She enjoys discussing science with researchers and support them in their outreach.

On 10 and 11 January, Oncode and CGC researchers met at the Compagnie Theater in Amsterdam to enjoy, discuss and experience science. Apart from inspiring talks, the two-day event also offered other engaging ways to stimulate interaction: a science booth market place, parallel sessions on topics like research funding and personal development, the official launch of the community platform and a session centered around patient engagement. Learning more about each other’s research and getting to know the community was key during this scientific meeting.

Sharing new scientific insights
The seven recently recruited junior Oncode Investigators were given the opportunity to tell the community about their science. They all gave interesting talks about their lab, available technologies and the goal of their research. Other presentations were given by junior researchers.

Science booth marketplace
This year, the Oncode team initiated a new programme element: a market place for science booths. The goal was to give research groups the possibility to present their work in a creative way and connect with the rest of the community. Collaboration between scientists is crucial for Oncode and CGC to succeed and the marketplace was an excellent opportunity to facilitate that. 23 research booths were set up and all groups really made an effort to show what their research was about in a fun, engaging way. The Chien lab (headed by Miao-Ping Chien, both a CGC and Oncode member) won the prize for best booth.

What we can learn from the patients we serve
This year’s meeting focused on different angles of cancer research. Patient engagement is one of them, but not always an obvious topic for fundamental researchers. Jacco van Rheenen gave an inspiring presentation about his personal view on patient engagement. After that, it was time for an interview with Harrie Berkers, a scleroderma patient, and Arjan van Caam, Postdoc at Radboudumc. They told the audience about their involvement in the STAP-project, which helps to stimulate patient participation in research and aims at facilitating interaction between patients and researchers. Finally, Lisanne Spaander, a young cancer patient, told her personal story and performed beautiful songs that described her experience of treatment and recovery.

Launch of the community platform
Within Oncode, researchers are strongly encouraged to work together because we need all available talent to outsmart cancer and impact patient’s lives. Group leaders usually have a large network to tap in to, but for PhD-students, postdocs or junior researchers it is not as easy to find expertise outside their institutions. To address this problem, Oncode invited researchers to co-create an online community platform to help people find the expertise, knowledge and equipment they need: in- and outside their own institutions.

Marten Hornsveld, (postdoc at LUMC) is a member of the co-creation group and presented the new platform to the research community: “For scientists, collaboration is at the core of getting exciting ambitious scientific ideas into reality. But finding the right collaborators and state-of-the-art tools to make it work within the foggy mazes of institutional websites is just a pain. This community platform will breach the walls of our single institutes, as connecting with the right people, tools, equipment, funding and events required to spark your project will become easy, fast and boundaryless!”

The community platform is now live and all Oncode researchers have been invited to fill in their profiles and start connecting with each other.

We hope to see you all at one of our next events!

Other News

Oncode PEP4
(Future) researchers and patients join forces to make true impact
For the second year in a row, Oncode’s Patient Engagement Programme had the opportunity to contribute to the bachelor course ‘Eye for Impact’ for biomedical sciences students at University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU). A unique example of how to give substance to patient engagement in basic research. Oncode researchers and patient representatives participated in a series of lectures and interactive sessions, where the students experienced first-hand how patients and researchers can partner up.
Jos Jonkers Daniel Zingg website
Unravelling genetic mechanism behind tumor formation can improve targeted treatment
New research by the group of Jos Jonkers explains variation in treatment response to FGFR2 inhibitors and provides a way to improve targeted therapy for cancer patients. Their work highlights the importance of analyzing the functional consequences of genetic variants found in tumors.
Chemotherapy speeds up DNA-level aging
Chemotherapy is an important part of treatment for children with cancer, contributing to the recovery of more and more children. Childhood cancer survivors do sometimes experience late effects from their treatment, including a higher risk of developing a second cancer. That risk is very small, but about five to six times greater than in the ‘normal’ population. In new research, published in Cancer Discovery, the team of Oncode Investigator Ruben Van Boxtel (Princess Máxima Center) shows that accelerated DNA aging turns out to be the main cause of the harmful effect of chemotherapy treatment.