The ninth Frontiers in Cancer Science (FCS) conference took place at Biopolis, Matrix Auditorium from 6 to 8 November 2017. Proudly and jointly organised by seven major research institutes [Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore), Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS)], the nation’s largest annual cancer conference underlines the organisers’ commitment to educate local and international cancer physicians and researchers in treating cancer as they shared pioneering ideas, novel information and gained invaluable networking opportunities. The event saw a total turnout close to 700 participants.

Opening the event, Professor Daniel Tenen, Director of CSI Singapore at NUS shared: “In 2010, we expanded the conference organisation to include other institutes in Singapore focused on cancer or having members performing outstanding cancer research, transforming it into a truly pan-Singapore cancer conference. Our main purpose was to conduct great talks from international and local stars, promote interactions and collaborations among local institutions, and inspire students and postdoctoral fellows.”

Chairman of the Organising Committee Professor David M. Virshup from Duke-NUS noted that the objective of FCS 2017 was to enable the exchange of research and clinical knowledge in a dynamic setting, where fresh insights and new partnerships will flourish. He noted that the coming together of diverse and world-class research expertise would bring cancer studies a step closer towards new breakthroughs and inventions.

Key event highlights

During the three-day event, participants at FCS 2017 were privileged to learn from 32 local and international speakers. These speakers came from renowned cancer research institutes and are experts in their field of research. They spoke on various oncology topics in six sessions, which were steered by six moderators from the major local research institutes. The topics covered during the conference ranged from tumours and cancer types, single-cell analysis, stem cells to immunotherapy. FCS 2017 saw the implementation of Pigeonhole Live, an online interactive Q&A platform where participants could post and vote for the best questions, which helped improve engagement between the speakers and the audience.

A total of six oral presentations which lasted 10 minutes each, took place throughout the three-day sessions. These oral presentations were given by six participants who had been selected by the committee for their outstanding abstracts submitted for the conference. The winner of the oral presentation was Mr Nicholas C.K Valerie from Karolinska Institute and Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), Sweden, who spoke on “Cutting the Power to Hormone Responses in Breast Cancer Cells with First-in-Class NUDT5 Inhibitors – New Modulators for Probing ADP-Ribose Metabolism”. The runner-up was Dr Takayoshi Matsumura from CSI Singapore who spoke on “Functional Analysis of a Novel TUBB1 Mutation Identified in Familial Platelet Disorder with Myeloid Malignancy”.

Ms Yuan Ju, a 35-year-old postdoctoral fellow who has been working in the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) for five years, shared: “I have been attending this conference for three years now and I always look forward to it every year. This year, the line-up of speakers was exceptionally good and discussions with speakers have been very engaging. I am able to get relevant insights about the ongoing and future prospect of advanced cancer research in both the local and international landscape. FCS 2017 has a good and organised programme line-up, and is a great conference overall."

Additionally, 87 participants took part in the FCS Poster Presentations that were displayed on the panels outside of the auditorium and spread over two floors. The winner of the Best Poster Presentation was Ms Masturah bte Mohd Abdul Rashid from CSI Singapore, with her poster submission on, “Globally Optimizing Therapeutic Combinations against Bortezomib-Resistant Multiple Myeloma using a Quantitative Parabolic Optimization Platform”. Dr Gediminas Greicius from Duke-NUS was the runner-up for his poster presentation on, “PDGFRα+ Pericryptal Stromal Cells are the Critical Source of Wnts and RSPO3 for Intestinal Stem Cells”.

There were also eight booth exhibitors during the event and they included Corning, Integrated DNA Technologies, Human Metabolome Technologies, Genomax, ThermoFisher Scientific, Cyagen and Abcam and Sengenics.

Closing the event, Associate Professor Philipp Kaldis, Vice-Chairman of the Organising Committee and Senior Principal Investigator at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR, Singapore noted: “This event has opened up more than just meaningful discussions within our cancer community, but more importantly, opened up opportunities for collaborations and established friendships with fellow researchers, experts and partners. These exchanges were enriching as they provided deep insights of cancer research around the globe and opportunities for learning and improvement within our local research capabilities. I look forward to yet another exciting conference next year."

The next FCS conference, which will take place from 12 to 14 November in Singapore next year, will mark its 10th year anniversary. MIMS