2017 Events

11th April 2017 at UCD Conway Lecture Theatre

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Breast-Predict Double Seminar

Breast-Predict in association with the Conway Lecture and Seminar Series (CLASS) present a double seminar featuring:

  • Professor Simak Ali (Imperial College London) ‘Developing New Approaches for Treatment of Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancer’
  • Dr Martine Piccart (Université Libre de Bruxelles/Institute Jules Bordet) ‘Translational Research in HER2 Positive Breast Cancer : An Expedition into the Desert’

on Tuesday 11th April 2017 from 11am to 1pm in the UCD Conway Lecture Theatre.

Refreshments between talks in the Conway Institute Foyer. Lunch will be served afterwards.

Associate Sponsors of the Conway Lecture & Seminar Series 2016/2017 include BioSciences and Cruinn Diagnostics Limited.

Prof. Simak Ali

Obtained his PhD in Genetics from the University of Edinburgh in 1988. He was subsequently awarded an EMBO fellowship to carry out his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. Pierre Chambon in Strasbourg. Here, he investigated the mechanisms of action of nuclear receptor transcription factors. He joined Imperial College London in 1997 and in 2007 became Professor of Molecular Endocrine Oncology at the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery & Cancer.

His research involves using Omics-based approaches (proteomic, transcriptomic, genomic and epigonomic) to investigate the molecular mechanisms of estrogen receptor action in breast cancer.

Specific highlights include:

The identification that site-specific phosphorylation of the ER is important for regulating its activity, this has led to the development of new drugs targeting ER phosphorylation.Identified ER-associated proteins that facilitate regulation of gene expression by ER. Currently determining the importance of these and other proteins that modulate ER activity, in endocrine response and resistance in breast cancer.Identified important links between ER signalling and DNA damage recognition and repair pathways that are often deregulated in cancer.Investigating the importance of ER-regulated genes (identified through transcriptomic approaches) in breast cancer progression, response and resistance to therapies.

His group are also involved in the development of novel biomarkers and treatments for prostate cancer. In particular, his research involves identifying the androgen-responsive genes that mediate the growth stimulatory effects of androgens in prostate cancer cells. This work has resulted in the identification of potential therapeutic targets and biomarkers for monitoring prostate cancer progression and drug response.

Martine Piccart, MD, PhD

Martine Piccart, MD, PhD, is a professor of oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and director of medicine at the Institute Jules Bordet, in Brussels, Belgium. Earning her medical degrees at ULB and oncology qualifications in New York and London, she is also a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine.

With a primary interest in breast cancer and drug development, Prof. Piccart is a leader in international research collaboration and is the principal or co-principal investigator of many clinical trials, including HERA, MINDACT, and ALTTO. She is co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group (BIG), uniting 49 academic research groups from around the world and running over 30 trials under its umbrella. BIG’s research programs include the European Commission supported TRANSBIG consortium of 28 institutions in 11 countries (collaborating with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] the MINDACT trial), and NeoBIG, an innovative biomarker and drug development program focused on neoadjuvant trials.

Prof. Piccart is active in numerous professional organizations. She is the immediate past president of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO, 2014-2015). She has also held presidencies of the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), and has served on the American Society of Clinical Oncology Board (ASCO).

Throughout her career, Prof. Piccart has been honored with numerous prestigious awards for her research contributions, including the Jill Rose Award for distinguished biomedical research (2009, New York, USA), the William L. McGuire Award in recognition of her contribution in breast cancer research (2009, SABCS, San Antonio/Texas, USA), the Umberto Veronesi Award for the Future Fight Against Cancer (2012, Cancun, Mexico), the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award in recognition of innovative clinical research and developments that have changed the way oncologists think about the general practice of oncology (2013, ASCO, Chicago, USA) and, most recently, the Susan G. Komen’s Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction (2015, SABCS, San Antonio/Texas, USA).

An accomplished clinician and scientist, Prof. Piccart is author or co-author of over 500 publications in peer-reviewed journals.


BREAST-PREDICT is a country-wide collaboration between experts in the area of breast cancer research, funded by the Irish Cancer Society. This ‘virtual Centre’ was launched in October 2013 and brings together researchers from six academic institutions across Ireland: UCD, TCD, RCSI, DCU, NUIG and UCC, and a nationwide clinical trials group, Cancer Trials Ireland (formerly ICORG).