QBI/SBI Symposium highlights international collaboration of multidisciplinary experts


An international symposium to highlight groundbreaking research and international collaborations was held at University College Dublin last week. Led by Professor Walter Kolch, Director, Systems Biology Ireland (SBI), UCD, and Professor Nevan Krogan, Director, Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) at the University of California, San Francisco, the QBI/SBI Symposium on Molecular Networks of Cancer and Other Diseases was held in UCD O’Reilly Hall on October 16 – 18, 2023. The free three-day event featured more than 33 speakers from across Ireland, the United States and Australia.

Photo of Eadaoin McKiernan, Nevan Krogan, Walter Kolch, Jacqueline Fabius, and Boris Kholodenko

SBI symposium organisers (left to right: Dr Eadaoin McKiernan, Prof. Nevan Krogan, Prof. Walter Kolch, Dr Jacqueline Fabius, Prof. Boris Kholodenko)

The theme of this conference emphasised how basic discovery research can translate to graspable impact at the clinical level, bringing change to real-life patients facing difficult diagnoses. For example, one of the four keynote speakers at the symposium was Professor Kevan Shokat, a biochemist from UCSF/UC Berkeley whose discovery that the RAS oncogene can be targeted by small molecule drugs has now come out of clinical trials and is entering the clinic for the treatment of major cancers including lung and colorectal cancers.

Professor Walter Kolch and Professor Boris Kholodenko (the latter of whom is also a keynote speaker), shed light on the digital twin approaches developed in SBI, which have now led to two clinical trials; one aiming to tackle notoriously difficult pancreatic cancer prognoses.

The discussion and learnings from this event will help shape future research under national initiatives such as Precision Oncology Ireland, a consortium that brings together experts from across academia, industry, cancer charities and patient organisations to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for personalised cancer treatment.

The partnership between SBI and QBI is part of a five-year MoU established in 2018. Since then, the two groups have hosted a successful virtual symposium in October 2020, with a viewing audience of 125 people across the globe, as well as a virtual seminar series held during the 2021 – 2022 academic years, which averaged between 30 – 40 attendees per seminar. The organisers hope that this symposium in Dublin will be the next step in fostering further successful scientific collaborations and funding opportunities between Ireland, the US, and beyond.  

Read more: https://www.aacr.org/about-the-aacr/newsroom/pioneers-and-innovators/kevan-m-shokat-phd-drugging-the-elusive-kras/