Spotlight on the Portuguese Association for Cancer Research (ASPIC) on its 10th Anniversary

A special report from the Portuguese Association for Cancer Research

Associação Portuguesa de Investigação em Cancro (Portuguese Association for Cancer Research)

Founded in 2013, with the support of the European Association of Cancer Research (EACR), the Portuguese Association for Cancer Research (ASPIC) is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. In this special year, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to the objectives we set out from the beginning: to bring together all those who carry out cancer research in Portugal and to become a national platform for interaction, exchange of information and coordination of common initiatives for the benefit of cancer researchers and cancer patients. We have reached a stable number of around 400 members (almost half are Master’s or PhD students) and it is always for them that we work for.

Our Meetings

In the last 5 years, ASPIC has intensified its cooperation with the Spanish Association for Cancer Research, ASEICA – Asociación Española de Investigación sobre el Cáncer. In 2019, we organized the first joint meeting at CIC, in Salamanca, focused on cancer immunotherapy. In 2021, we held the II Meeting, entirely in a virtual format, about precision medicine in cancer.

Group photograph of ASEICA-ASPIC members at the first joint meeting in 2019

We will meet again in Porto, at i3S, on October 26th and 27th, 2023. All EACR members are invited to participate at the III ASPIC-ASEICA International Meeting – Cancer Immunology, Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis and take advantage of the reduced fees. The main purpose of this Meeting is to disseminate and promote the work developed in both countries and create communication channels and partnership opportunities. We are determined to make the much-needed connections between Iberian basic scientists, clinical researchers and oncologists. The meeting will have invited speakers plus talks by attendees selected from abstracts. Participants with posters will also have the opportunity to discuss their work. The posters will be displayed in a specific section in the congress venue.

Research projects and other activities

In 2023, we will also conclude the research project promoted by ASPIC – Breast cancer prognosis associated with the Portuguese founder mutation in the BRCA2 gene c.156_157insalu, launched in partnership with the EVITA Patients’ Association. It is a unique, national (16 hospitals) and very ambitious project, which will be of enormous use for researchers, clinicians and families with a high probability of developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC).

It is also our aim to create the figure of “ASPIC Ambassadors“, in order to recognize the dedication of some of our members and involve them more actively in ASPIC activities, as well as to invite Cancer Patient Associations to become Honorary Members of ASPIC. With this initiative, we intend to increase communication between researchers and the general public, focusing on promoting new work hypotheses with an impact on the life and treatment of cancer patients. Six cancer patient associations have already participated in the last ASPIC congress and discussed some posters with researchers. We believe that researchers gain a lot from the presence of patients, as they give them more focus to move forward with their work, knowing that what they do can putatively improve the lives of future patients.

Raquel Seruca (1962-2022)

Also in the 5th ASPIC International Congress, we decided to create the Raquel Seruca Prize to award the best Selected Short Talk, which will be also attributed in the future editions of the ASPIC congress.

This award was created to honour the clinician and researcher Raquel Seruca (1962-2022), also an ASPIC member, whose career contributed unequivocally to oncology research at a national and international level. ASPIC also made a special tribute video about Raquel Seruca.

Finally, in the year in which we celebrate a decade of existence, it is also worth to highlight the recent report promoted by ASPIC. Fulfilling its objective of promoting cancer research in Portugal, namely through the collection of indicators and dissemination of results, as well as the analysis and proposal of solutions for existing constraints in national cancer research, ASPIC, with the support of “la Caixa” Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Novartis, promoted the compilation and analysis of data on cancer research and innovation in Portugal in the last 10 years.

Guests at the Public Presentation of the report on Potrait of Cancer Research in Portugal

Named Portrait of Cancer Research in Portugal – A comprehensive mapping analysis, this work provides a currently lacking portrait of cancer research at the national level, by mapping the outputs of cancer research, as well as its main actors.

Participants at the Public Presentation of the report on Potrait of Cancer Research in Portugal

ASPIC worked together with the consultancy SIRIS Academic, which designed and developed this study – the first to be conducted at national level and a key first step to initiate strategic and policy discussions. This report provides an evidence-based and unbiased view of the country and how it compares internationally, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. We expect that this report will be a working tool to be used by the stakeholders and policy makers, with an involvement or responsibility in cancer research at the national level.


About National Societies affiliated to the EACR

ASPIC is one of the 14 National Societies that have chosen to affiliate to the European Association for Cancer Research and give their members EACR membership at no extra cost to each member. Click here to find out more about these affiliated National Societies.