The program featured a broad spectrum of cancer research endeavours – including basic biomedical, public health, clinical and psychosocial – making the latest information and research available to researchers, clinicians, students and consumers. Research was shared and new collaborations formed through plenary and keynote presentations, oral and poster presentations selected from submitted abstracts, and interactive panel discussions and workshops.

Delegates embraced the opportunity to network in person, many for the first time in over two years. Several students commented that this was their first opportunity to attend and present at an in-person conference.

The conference was opened by organising committee co-chairs, Professor Hilda Pickett and Associate Professor Natalie Taylor followed by a welcome address from Professor Tracey O’Brien, Chief Cancer Officer for NSW and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, encouraging attendees to seek out collaborators and to undertake bold research to improve cancer outcomes for all. Equity a key theme of the new NSW cancer plan.

Scientific presentations commenced on day 1 with a plenary address from Professor Roger Greenburg (USA) on his work on telomeres followed by an engaging presentation from 2021 winner of the Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year, Professor Jacob George, who spoke about the APriCa program, Accelerated translational research in Primary Liver Cancer – his team’s bench to bedside HCC research in NSW. Delegates were inspired to hear about a program which spanned the whole cancer research and care continuum from prevention, molecular drivers of carcinogenesis through to research on optimising the care pathway and equity of access. His presentation demonstrated the evolving multi-disciplinary nature of healthcare – where the role of a clinicians, researchers and consumers can intersect to achieve optimal patient outcomes.” Medical Student, The University of Sydney.

Networking commenced in earnest over lunch and the first poster viewing session, after which Professor Sabe Sabesan from Townsville, Queensland presented his lasagne model which resonated with delegates and was much commented on for the remainder of the conference. “All of the layers of the lasagne are needed to implement strategies to facilitate the layers under them being fully cooked and having trials delivered at a local level” Prof. Sabesan.

Professor Karen Canfell followed with a presentation summarising her perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer control and outcomes “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer control is likely to manifest across many dimensions (prevention, screening, treatment) and the impact is likely to play out over many years” Prof. Canfell

Concurrent workshops concluded the scientific sessions on day 1 with delegates exploring how to effectively and meaningfully involve consumers in research; hearing about emerging research methods and thinking about how these might advance their own research; and workshopping solutions to challenges specific to cancer research and care delivery in regional NSW.

Day 1 was rounded out with the opportunity to network informally amongst the poster presentations during the cocktail event. “NSW Cancer Conference day one has been a great success! I’m learning so much from many incredible researchers!” – PhD Student, Garvan Institute

Day 2 began early with a networking breakfast hosted by the UNSW Cancer Theme, a wonderful opportunity to bring together researchers across the state from all career stages.

“Day 2 of the NSW Cancer Conference 2022 provided thought-provoking talks from a great line up of speakers and another poster session…! It was great to see such a great turnout and so much promising and important work being discussed” – Research Officer, UNSW

The opening plenary on Day 2, Translational genomics and precision medicine, included an inspirational presentation from Professor Vanessa Hayes showcasing ground-breaking research on the genomic basis of significant worldwide prostate cancer health disparities. “The key take home for me was to think about how to be more inclusive of diverse populations in research to ensure that there is equity in health care provision” ECR, The University of Sydney. This was followed by a fascinating talk by Dr Joshua Chou explaining how research on microgravity has helped inform new drug and delivery methods, including Keytruda for cancer.. A panel, chaired by Professor Anna DeFazio, discussed how we mainstream advances in cancer genomics & precision medicine and explored where we should invest our limited resources for the most equitable outcomes.

The final session on Social justice, quality of life and cancer policy wrapped up the conference. Delegates engaged with a thought-provoking panel discussion chaired by Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle.  The panellists explored ways to remove barriers to accessing clinical trials, and the importance of asking the community how clinical trials be brought to them.

The final plenaries were delivered by Professor Claire Wakefield, detailing her work in precision medicine and global disparities in treatment for childhood cancer around the world, and International invited speaker Professor Julie Torode on the percolation of ideas into the development discourse.

The 2 days were wrapped up with a closing address from Professor Craig Gedye who said he is “excited to see the legacy of this conference continue and looks forward to welcoming cancer researchers across the state in regional NSW for the NSW Cancer Conference 2023”.

Thank you to all the speakers, poster presenters, delegates, sponsors and organising committee for making the first NSW Cancer Conference a celebrated success. We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2023 instalment as we continue to work together for better outcomes in cancer research, treatment and care.

Congratulations to the following award recipients:

The Daffodil Centre Best Student Oral Presentation
Alpha Raj Mekapogu – UNSW Sydney and Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research

Cancer Council NSW Best Student Poster Presentation
Jing Wu – Children’s Cancer Institute
Allegra Freelander – Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Jourdin Rouaen – Children’s Cancer Institute

Bioscience Reports Best EMCR Oral Presentation
Sarah Alexandrou – Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Bioscience Reports Best EMCR Poster Presentation
Frances Byrne – UNSW Sydney

MDPI Cancers Journal Best EMCR Poster Presentation
Benita Tse – University of Sydney
Kimberley Hassen – Children’s Cancer Institute

Check out more highlights and event photos on twitter #CancerConf2022

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