This article first featured here on the Neuroblastoma blog, which features regular articles about Olga Piskareva’s lab group and their activities. By visiting Catherine’s article, you can also read more about the group and their blog.
In early April, shortly after attending the Irish Association for Cancer Research (IACR) virtual conference, I was delighted to find out I had been selected for a “Poster in the Spotlight” presentation at the European congress in June. I was invited to give a 10-minute presentation about my research on finding new immuno markers for drug-resistant neuroblastoma. This would be my first time presenting at a conference outside of Ireland (though I remained in my home in Dublin and not in the hoped destination of Turino) and so it was a very exciting experience!
On the morning of my talk, I logged onto zoom to meet the EACR session organisers and the other speakers in my session – a mixture of PhD students and Post-doc researchers from Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. Each of our talks was then broadcasted to the virtual congress platform where cancer researchers around Europe could tune in.
After the presentations, we joined a “Meet the Speakers” session where we could chat with those who had tuned in, answer questions and open up some research discussions. I was asked one question from a researcher doing similar work to me on how I investigate the relationships between certain genes in cancer, and I was able to refer her onto the software I use – I hope this aids her research, as that’s the real aim of attending these conferences!
Following this, it was time to relax and watch some of the other interesting talks taking place in the congress. The EACR were running a photo competition to show where you were watching from in order to win a place at the 2022 congress in Seville. So, I took this opportunity to take my laptop out to the back garden and watch the congress in the sun, getting a selfie for twitter with #NotQuiteTorinoEACR2021. Fingers crossed by this time next year travelling for international conferences will be a reality for researchers once again!
I am a 2nd-year PhD student in the Cancer Bioengineering Group in RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin. My project aims to model neuroblastoma – immune cell interactions using tissue engineered 3D scaffolds, and it is funded by the charity Neuroblastoma UK. I am particularly interested in how neuroblastoma cells interact with macrophages in the tumour microenvironment and how 3D scaffolds may be used to model these interactions and act as a platform for testing novel immuno-therapeutics in the future. I hope my work and the other projects funded by NBUK will pave the way to better treatment options and a brighter outlook for little patients with neuroblastoma.