First year clinical fellow, Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, reaches the national final of the 3 Minute Thesis Competition
Congratulations to Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, a CoL Centre Clinical Research Fellow at Barts Cancer Institute (BCI), Queen Mary University of London, who has progressed to the national final of the 2020 Vitae Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) competition. As one of six finalists, Vinaya will be delivering a presentation about her research project live and online on Wednesday 16th September. 3MT® is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, that challenges PhD students to deliver a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just 3 minutes. Vinaya’s presentation is entitled ‘The war on cancer: understanding the immune system’s strategies for fighting bowel cancer.’
As a histopathology trainee, Vinaya had completed 18 months of training in histopathology before pursuing a PhD as part of the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre Clinical Research Training Fellowship Programme. Vinaya is undertaking her research project in Professor Trevor Graham’s laboratory group in BCI’s Centre for Cancer Genomics and Computational Biology.
Ahead of the final, Bethan Warman, Communications Manager at the BCI, spoke to Vinaya to find out more about her research and her experience in the competition.
What prompted you to enter the Vitae 3MT® competition? How have you found the experience so far?
I am often asked by my friends and family about the project I’m working on. My main aim in entering the competition was to come up with a short description that would explain this clearly (and maybe even wow them!). However, I have gained much more from this experience than I could have expected. Having to stop and think about the relevance of my work and how it fits into the bigger picture has been really useful, especially in terms of keeping me motivated to work even harder on my project.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
My project aims to understand how bowel cancer interacts with and escapes from the immune system. I am studying this by staining the different cell types in bowel cancer tissue with markers of different colours simultaneously and reviewing the stained tissue under the microscope. This will allow me to characterise the different immune cell types present- not only their quantity but also crucially their spatial interactions with each other and cancer cells.
This approach will help us identify mechanisms used by cancer cells to “escape” from the immune system. In turn, these insights will hopefully guide the development of treatments targeting these escape mechanisms. Eventually, this approach can be translated to a clinical setting such that we can determine the escape mechanisms present in a particular patient’s cancer and provide targeted treatment, ultimately decreasing the significant mortality associated with bowel cancer.
From a histopathology point of view, a great deal of the clinical work in a pathology department involves looking at tissue under the microscope and using this information to diagnose cancer and identify risk factors which predict a worse prognosis. My project gives me the opportunity to take this process one step further by grouping the cells I see under the microscope into subtypes and understanding how they interact. I hope that this will deepen our understanding of the biological processes underlying the image that we see under the microscope.
How do you feel to have made it through to the 3MT® competition national final?
I am thrilled to have made it this far, especially considering 53 universities participated this year and only six finalists could be selected from the pool of candidates! I couldn’t have done it without the support of my fantastic lab. From helping me with my project at every turn to turning up to support me at the Queen Mary final, they have been absolutely amazing! I couldn’t ask for a more supportive team and am very grateful to have this opportunity to work with them during my PhD.
We wish Vinaya the best of luck in the final on 16th September. If you would like to watch the final and show your support, you can register online.
Launch of the CRUK Open Lab Initiative
Cancer Research UK has recently launched the Open Lab Initiative, a new collaborative research venture, across its network of Centres. The aim of the Open Lab Initiative is to connect CRUK Centre Network research groups with mutual or complementary interests and expertise, from across the UK, to spark creative discussions, generate novel scientific ideas, and establish new research collaborations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond.
The Open Lab Initiative removes all the fuss and hassle from finding new research collaborators – proprietary matching algorithms and Open Register make meeting your ideal research partner a breeze!
If you are interested in joining, simply sign up to join the Initiative using the online webform and within 5 working days the team will match you to another research group to hold a joint virtual group meeting or journal club. Alternatively you can add your research group to the Open Register to allow others to match with you directly.
For more information and to sign up, please see: www.crukcc.org/openlab
First Year CoL Centre PhD student wins QMUL 3 Minute Thesis Competition 2020
Congratulations to our first year PhD Clinical Research Training Fellow, Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, who has won QMUL’s 3 minute thesis competition. Vinaya was one of 5 QMUL students shortlisted for the final and was not only the winner of the overall competition but also took the People’s Choice award. The finals took place over zoom, with over 70 people logging in to listen to the talks. She will now go on to represent QMUL in the national semi-finals.
Integrating Cancer Imaging Biomarker Clinical Research Across the UK
UK National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA) establishes infrastructure for validation and adoption of cancer imaging biomarkers as decision-making tools in clinical trials and NHS practice.
Researchers and medical experts from nine world-leading medical imaging centres across the UK come together to form an integrated infrastructure for standardising and validating cancer imaging biomarkers for clinical use.
The centres include University College London, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, King’s College London, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College London, Cambridge University, Newcastle University and University of Glasgow. This unique UK infrastructure provides clinical researchers across the UK with open access to world-class clinical imaging facilities and expertise, as well a repository data management service, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and ongoing training opportunities.
The NCITA consortium, through engagement with NHS Trusts, pharmaceutical companies, medical imaging and nuclear medicine companies as well as funding bodies and patient groups, aims to develop a robust and sustainable imaging biomarker certification process, to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of cancer diagnosis, tumour classification and patient response to treatment.
Professor Shonit Punwani, Chair of the NCITA governance group said, “The UK is at the forefront of imaging research, with new techniques and technologies often making the news. Yet, the pace of change in clinical practice remains painfully slow. To date we have been missing the infrastructure to deliver these new technologies to the clinic. NCITA fills this gap by defining a translational pipeline with the singular aim of making our discoveries fit for clinical application. This can only be done with a creative and collaborative approach across academia, industry and the NHS.”
The NCITA initiative is funded by Cancer Research UK and will receive up to £10 million over 5 years. The NCITA network is led by Prof Shonit Punwani, Prof James O’Connor, Prof Eric Aboagye, Prof Geoff Higgins, Prof Evis Sala, Prof Dow Mu Koh, Prof Tony Ng, Prof Hing Leung and Prof Ruth Plummer with up to 49 co-investigators supporting the NCITA initiative. NCITA is keen to expand and bring in new academic and industrial partnerships as it develops.
Image credit: Images from the INNOVATE trial (https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-016-2856-2), courtesy of Professor Shonit Punwani and Dr Saurabh Singh, University College London, Centre for Medical Imaging
Registration open for the 2nd Crick International Cancer Conference 15th-17th September 2019
The second Crick International Cancer Conference will take place on 15-17th September 2019. A host of world-leading scientists and clinicians will present their latest work covering links between genomic integrity and cancer, building new cancer models, and improving therapies. The conference will also provide extensive opportunities for early career researchers to present both talks and posters alongside a world class line up of speakers. Abstracts are actively encouraged and there will be a prize for the best selected talk and best poster. A networking reception will further enable the attendees to make new links across disciplines, stimulating fresh ideas about the biology that underpins cancer development, and new ways to tackle the disease.
Early bird price £150 ends 31 July, full price £180 – registration closes 31 August.
If you would like to present a short talk or poster please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 July 2019.
Launch of the CRUK City of London Centre Computational and Data Resource – 3rd September 2019
On the 3rd September 2019 the CRUK City of London Centre is launching its computational and data resource. This resource will be a key element in the cancer evolution theme and will enable cancer’s dynamics to be mapped longitudinally during exposure to biological therapies, integrated within the partners’ NHS service. The launch will kick off with a short presentation explaining what the resource offers and how to access it. Following the presentation, attendees can participate in a Data Challenge; We are encouraging early-career researchers (e.g. PhD students and post-docs) across the partners to form groups and embark on a collaborative effort within the cancer evolution theme to make use of the exciting computer resources available. The launch will be open to CoL Centre Faculty and their lab members only. If you would like more information on the event or to register, please email us.
2019 intake of PhD and Clinical Research trainees recruited to the CoL Centre training programme – June 2019
The first cohort of PhD students and Clinical Research Training Fellows have been appointed to start the CoL Centre Training Programme in September 2019. Two excellent candidates were selected from over 240 applications and will start their PhD in labs based at the Crick and King’s College London. Eight Clinical Research Training Fellows have also been appointed across the Centre. All 2019 CoL trainees will attend an induction week in September and will participate in the next CoL symposium in February. More information on the trainees and their projects will be available on the website in the next few months.
CRUK CoL Centre on Twitter – 15 March 2019
CoL Centre Launch Symposium – 19th February 2019
On Tuesday 19 February 2019, 97 researchers from across the consortium were brought together for the first event from the Cancer Research UK City of London (CRUK CoL) Centre. This event showcased the breadth and depth of cancer biotherapeutics research happening across the Centre. Professor Tariq Enver kicked off the meeting with an overview of the CoL Centre strategy, this was followed by some fascinating talks from each of the Centre’s three research programmes. The symposium concluded with talks from the paediatric and training leads. It is envisaged that in the coming years this annual symposium will grow and facilitate novel initiatives and collaborations to promote and accelerate cancer biotherapeutics research.