Annual Conference – young researchers are the future

Elize Brolsma

On November 8th and 9th 2018, cancer researchers from all over The Netherlands gathered for the Oncode-CGC Annual Conference. A quick look at the audience showed that not only the speakers were a dynamic mix of people. It is safe to say that the cancer research community is young, diverse and very motivated to create impact.

New insights in cancer research
This year’s topic ‘From tissues to cells to molecules: multi-scale visualization of cancer processes’ brought together world-class speakers from different parts of the globe, each representing a different focus. One of the speakers was Tobias Meyer, Stanford University California, who talked about how cells process information to make decisions about cell-cycle entry and exit. He described how his lab uses live imaging to simultaneously follow the activity of multiple cell cycle enzymes (Cdk2/4, Cdk4/6 and APC/C) to define G1 entry and commitment to enter S-phase. By also combining live imaging with post-imaging immunostaining of key cell-cycle regulators his lab is now uncovering exactly which proteins dynamics underlie cell cycle decisions.

Anna Akhmanova
, Utrecht University, focused her presentation on microtubule minus-end organization in animal cells, and how her work is revealing the importance of non-centrosomal based organization of microtubules. Using in vitro reconstitution and live cell imaging, her work has illustrated the importance of CAMSAP proteins in controlling microtubule nucleation and cell migration.

The second day, Cristina Lo Celso, Imperial Collage London, talked about her work using intravital imaging in mice to uncover the dynamics of healthy and malignant haematopoiesis. Her work is uncovering how leukaemia affects haematopoietic stem cells by remodelling the bone marrow microenvironment.

Finally, Marvin Tanenbaum, Oncode Institute and Hubrecht Institute, discussed how his lab is using single molecule imaging of protein translation to understand the dynamics of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). By combining quantitative imaging and computational modelling, his work has identified new mechanisms that contribute to the heterogeneity in NMD dynamics in vivo.

Poster presentations
On both days during lunch, poster presenters from both CGC and Oncode were able to showcase their research. All researchers had really made an effort to develop something special and visually appealing. Krijn Dijkstra of the lab of the CGC investigator Emil Voest, NKI, won the prize for best poster with his research ‘Generation of tumor-reactive T cells by co-culture of peripheral blood lymphocytes and tumor organoids’. The jury chose his poster because it immediately stood out with its simplicity and clarity, and Krijn did a wonderful job explaining his research to the audience.

Oncode Community Platform
Lunchtime was also an occasion to get a live demo of the Oncode Community Platform. This platform is a co-creation with Oncode researchers and will help Oncode members to easily find each other, facilitate collaboration, find equipment and share their expertise. Members of the co-creation group were present to show participants the test version of the platform and let people explore it themselves. Feedback was very positive, and many people confirmed that this platform will help address their current struggle of finding the right people with the right expertise in the community. Especially young reserachers, who don’t have the big network most Principal Investigators can tap into, will benefit from this platform. More information on this will follow soon.

Thanking the Founding Scientists
Although they stepped back from the management team to make way for the younger generation, Oncode’s Founding Scientists are still involved within the Oncode community. On the first day, Hans Bos, Jan Hoeijmakers, Hans Clevers, René Bernards and Anton Berns all received a very special and symbolic gift. Peejay, an artist from Tilburg and father of three kids, was diagnosed with lymphoma at the age of 36. Apart from all the misery the disease brought into his life, it also gave him something positive. He had to stop working and found a new passion in life: being an artist. He had created five personalized gifts. During his speech, he told the audience: “I’m very honored that Oncode asked me to create these gifts. I’m thankful for the great work cancer researchers are doing and very pleased to contribute this way.”

CGC and Oncode would like to thank all speakers and participants for making it a great conference and we look forward to seeing you all next year.

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