While pop culture depictions of science might lead you to believe that discoveries come from individual researchers working alone, actual advancements are born through collaborations across teams, institutions, and countries. BCRF’s unique funding model encourages our researchers to build new ideas together. As a result, more than half of BCRF’s investigators are collaborating—and many of these connections were forged at events like our annual Scientific Conference.
This October, more than 160 BCRF investigators gathered from across the world to participate in BCRF’s 19th conference. For the second year in a row, the event was held virtually to ensure the safety of all participants, but it continued to provide a venue for our investigators to discuss the most pressing topics in breast cancer research.
As is tradition, BCRF’s Scientific Advisory Board selects one researcher to receive our highest scientific honor, the Jill Rose Award, at this event. Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield was this year’s recipient, garnering the award for her outstanding contributions to advance breast cancer research and improve care for breast cancer patients. She opened the retreat with a compelling presentation that was especially valuable to the many practicing physicians among BCRF’s researchers.
Describing breast cancer complexities in an accessible way can be a challenge for even the most experienced doctor. Dame Lesley’s work focuses on improving communication between doctors and breast cancer patients, so the latter can make fully informed decisions about their care. In her presentation, Dame Lesley focused on how physicians can more effectively relay information to patients regarding genetic risk testing and subsequent results, as well as new therapeutic options. Ultimately, this type of research not only enriches the patient experience but has also been shown to improve outcomes.
To help make the virtual event feel a bit less remote, following Dame Lesley’s presentation, the conference transitioned into breakout sessions—wherein BCRF investigators gathered in small groups to discuss advances in eight key fields of research: breast cancer risk and prevention; healthcare disparities; mathematical oncology and artificial intelligence; new experimental platforms; novel therapies; immunotherapy; the tumor macro/microenvironment; and rare breast cancer subtypes. These sessions not only provided a venue for investigators to share exciting new data, but researchers were also able to brainstorm on common challenges and forge new collaborations.
BCRF received positive feedback from the participants, and researchers reported that the meeting’s format and breakout sessions met and exceeded their expectations for fostering lively discussions, generating thoughtful questions, and sparking ideas for improving their projects or starting new ones.
Importantly, many of the participating researchers are already planning new collaborations by: setting up discussion groups to share their expertise; sharing clinical material to facilitate testing on another researcher’s new platform; embarking on new studies in areas such as imaging and genomics; and forging international collaborations, including establishing a first-of-its kind registry to make data on a specific subtype of breast cancer more accessible globally.
BCRF is privileged to hold events like our Scientific Conference to push breast cancer research forward—together.
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