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Report from our EACR correspondent at the 1st International Cancer Research @ Bath Symposium

The 1st International Cancer Research @ Bath Symposium took place at the University of Bath, UK, from 20 - 21 April 2017.

EACR Member Richard Buchanan, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, UK, won a free registration to attend the meeting as an EACR Correspondent. You can read Richard’s report on his participation below.

"The Bath Committee have orchestrated an excellent new meeting which clearly has local and national benefit. I wish them every success organising the 2nd iteration next year!"

Interested in becoming our correspondent? Watch out for other opportunities to win free conference registrations through announcements in the EACR e-news bulletin.

Report from Richard Buchanan, University of Birmingham, UK

Amidst the beautiful rolling Somerset hills, the city of Bath is celebrating. 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Bath, and as part of the festivities, the Cancer Research @ Bath Committee hosted the 1st International Cancer Research @ Bath Symposium on the 20th and 21st of April. The Committee – a collaborative network of University of Bath academics and Royal United Hospital clinicians – sought to showcase some of the greatest advances in cancer research through several high-profile talks, and to promote local research in the South West with many of the 40 posters on display originating from the Universities of Bath and Bristol.

The first session titled ‘Tumour Immunity and Cancer Cell Biology’ was divided into morning and afternoon segments, with talks from Cardiff University’s Professor Awen Gallimore and Dr Helen Pearson to open proceedings. Delegates were then treated to lunch as well as a poster session, in which a poster by Dr Alexander Greenhough from the University of Bristol describing novel hypoxia-induced expression of an anti-apoptotic G-protein-coupled receptor captured my attention. The session continued after lunch and I particularly enjoyed a talk overviewing the history of the TGF-β family in cancer and their relationships with metastatic potential, delivered by Dr Caroline Hill.

After coffee, the audience were stimulated by two brilliant keynote presentations. It was fantastic to listen to Professor Douglas Hanahan digest his landmark publication ‘The Hallmarks of Cancer’, then acknowledge how the field has advanced in his 2011 paper ‘Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation’. As a cancer immunologist, I was especially interested to hear Professor Hanahan’s perspectives on immunological events as emerging hallmarks affecting tumour pathogenesis. The second keynote speaker, Professor Peter Jones from the Van Andel Research Institute, provided a though-provoking conclusion to the first day by describing his pioneering epigenetics work. It was exciting to learn how DNA methyltransferase inhibitors influence endogenous retrovirus expression, a major element of the human genome. Professor Jones also intrigued delegates by detailing the synergisms of a 5-azacitidine and vitamin C combination.

The second day kicked off with a ‘DNA Damage Response’ session sponsored by Astrazeneca. As a researcher investigating lung cancer, I was interested in patterns of glycolytic gene expression in KRAS mutant tumours identified by Dr Carla Martins from the MRC Cancer Unit Cambridge. The final conference session, ‘Translating Research for Cancer Therapy’, featured a fantastic talk given by Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald on the development of a minimally invasive diagnostic for identifying cases of Barrett’s Oesophagus, which is being assessed in the BEST3 trial.

To close proceedings, two public lectures generated some of the best debate of the conference. The first argued the potentials of preventative aspirin, whilst the second outlined strategies of patient-led care and personalised medicine. I would like to thank the EACR for giving me the opportunity to attend and I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as a reporter! The Bath Committee have orchestrated an excellent new meeting which clearly has local and national benefit. I wish them every success organising the 2nd iteration next year! 

12 May 2017

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