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Our student co-organises a national conference

Laura Gomez-Cuadrado, a PhD student from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, was a member of the organising committee of a BACR conference in London: December 2018

BACR Student Conference organisers with the keynote speakers (Laura fifth from left).
BACR Student Conference organisers with the keynote speakers (Laura fifth from left).

The British Association of Cancer Research (BACR) is the largest British-based cancer society that aims to promote the advance of research in relation to all aspects of cancer and encourage the exchange of information. The BACR achieves this aim by providing educational and training opportunities for all those involved in the cancer field, particularly the next generation of cancer research professionals. To this end, the association organised its first ever national-level BACR Student Conference on the 26th November 2018 in the Francis Crick Institute in London. One of our students, Laura Gomez-Cuadrado, was vital for the success of that event.

Professor Mina Bissell giving a talk about the importance of extracellular matrix and tissue architecture.
Professor Mina Bissell giving a talk about the importance of extracellular matrix and tissue architecture.

Laura is a third year PhD student in Professor Valerie Brunton’s lab at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre. She investigates the roles of the tumour microenvironment and a cell-adhesion protein E-cadherin in the metastatic spread of invasive lobular carcinoma – a type of breast cancer. She is also a BACR member and, being passionate about engaging others in scientific discussion and networking activities, embraced the opportunity to join the conference’s organising committee.

In her role Laura was not only responsible for securing the presence of one of the keynote speakers – Professor Mina Bissell, a former president of the American Society for Cell Biology - but also led a successful grant application that ensured substantial funding from the Cancer Research UK to support the meeting.

PhD Students and organisers networking at the lunch break before the poster session.
PhD Students and organisers networking at the lunch break before the poster session.

The BACR PhD student conference was organised on a “by students for students basis” and attracted over 100 participants from across the UK. The conference’s main objectives were: (i) to expose PhD students to the newest trends in cancer biology and cutting-edge research presented by highly acclaimed speakers; (ii) to enable the students to present their own research to their peers in a professional format at a top-level modern research environment of the Francis Crick Institute; (iii) to enable participating PhD students direct interactions with the invited speakers (who are also great student mentors) to obtain feed-back on their own PhD-projects and valuable advice on career options and opportunities;  and (iv) to provide students from diverse cancer-research-linked disciplines with experience-exchange and networking opportunities that might be highly beneficial for their future careers.

The meeting was divided into four thematic blocks, each including a keynote speaker’s presentation and two or three short talks from PhD students that were selected from submitted abstracts. There were multiple opportunities for informal discussions, networking and social interactions.  

The thematic blocks and keynote speakers were as follows:

  1. Immuno-Oncology - Len Seymour (University of Oxford, UK)
  2. Tumour Microenvironment  - Mina Bissell (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley, USA)
  3. Cell Signalling - Brian Huntly (University of Cambridge)
  4. Tumour Models and Genomics - Carlos Caldas (Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute)

 It has been a pleasure to see the PhD students’ engagement in this conference, presenting their work and asking multiple questions. I was also delighted to see the keynote speakers willingness to interact with all the students.

Laura Gomez-CuadradoPhD student from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre

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