UCD Cancer Research Symposium June 2024

On Friday 7 June 2024, the fourth UCD Cancer Research Symposium took place at the Conway Institute of Molecular and Biomedical Research. This bi-annual event is an opportunity for cancer researchers and clinical staff from UCD, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, and St Vincent's Hospital to network, collaborate, and discover the latest cancer research updates.

Almost 100 researchers, clinicians, nurses, and research support staff turned out to support the event and present their work.  

The symposium was opened by Prof Kate Robson Brown, VPRII UCD Research, who highlighted the energy and collaboration of UCD’s cancer research community. This was followed by Prof William Gallagher who provided a whistle-stop tour of just some of the activity taking place at UCD in cancer research, while Dr Anne Fortune provided an update from the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, noting the progress being made on the START Dublin early phase clinical trial centre. Dr Chris Crockford provided an update on St Vincent's University Hospital and the UCD Cancer Trials Cluster, noting the launch of the new St. Vincent’s UCD Cancer Centre and a successful 2023 with the UCD Cancer Trials Cluster being the highest study recruiter in Ireland.

Following the site updates, a panel discussion was held on PPI in cancer research, with panellists Dr Emma Dorris (UCD Engaged Research Manager), Prof Amanda McCann (lead of the UCD Patient Voice in Cancer Research), and Miriam Staunton (Patient Advocate). The panel touched on the key developments that have been made in recent years in PPI, where PPI is now, the barriers and enablers to good PPI, and the importance and challenges of reimbursing PPI contributors.

During the break, Prof Walter Kolch led a tour of UCD's cutting-edge laboratories, while other attendees engaged with poster presenters covering a diverse range of topics, from the new START Dublin Centre at the Mater Hospital to translational studies on extracellular vesicles (EVs) in monitoring drug response.

A highlight of the symposium was the session on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in cancer research and care, chaired by Ana Le Chevillier, Clinical Research Manager at the UCD Institute for Discovery. Prof Kolch discussed the creation of digital twin models for cancer research, demonstrating how AI and computational models are revolutionising personalised treatment options. Prof Brian MacNamee showcased the strides made in AI-driven cancer research in Ireland, emphasising the vast opportunities for local researchers. Dr Colm Ryan illustrated how AI is driving the development of targeted cancer therapies, highlighting its transformative potential. Prof William Gallagher concluded with an inspiring talk on the revolution in digital pathology due to AI, underscoring its significant impact on research and clinical practice. Together, these presentations painted a vivid picture of a future where AI fundamentally enhances cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The symposium concluded with its keynote speaker, Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez, a recognised international leader in molecular and digital pathology, whose lecture focused on the application of genomic analysis, digital pathology, artificial intelligence, and integrated diagnostics to develop a new generation of complex, meaningful biomarkers in cancer. Professor Salto-Tellez’s integrated model of research cuts across technologies and cancer types, taking the clinical/diagnostic need as the key research focus.

All in all, the symposium was a resounding success, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and bridging the gap between research and practice in the ever-evolving field of cancer research and care. The event demonstrated the dedication and commitment of the clinical and research staff in advancing the fight against cancer.

We hope to welcome everyone back to St Vincent’s University Hospital for the next symposium later in 2024. 

The symposium was a collaborative effort between UCD Research, All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI), UCD Cancer Trials Cluster, UCD Institute for Discovery, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, and St Vincent’s University Hospital.

This content was provided by Dr Chris Crockford, Research Project Manager, UCD Clinical Research Centre