Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR)’ annual conference was held at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research (ACBR), from 13 – 16th Feb. ACBR situated in University of Delhi, North Campus is a premier institution conducting research in cancer biology, infectious diseases, immunology, functional genomics, epigenetics and natural products. The conference had a stupendous gathering of Cancer researchers both, from abroad as well as from India. Prof. N. K. Ganguly a renowned scientist and Former Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research, New Delhi chaired the conference.
The grand inaugural session featured dignitaries’ including- Dr S. K. Bramhachari — DG CSIR, Prof. N. K. Ganguly- Former DG, ICMR, Prof Dinesh Singh- Vice Chancellor, DU, Dr. S. V. Chiplunkar- President IACR, R Prasad- V. P. Chest Institute, Dr. B. C. Das- ACBR and Nobel Laureate Prof. Harald zur Hausen. In his introductory note, Prof. Bramhachari stressed the importance of inter disciplinary research and the need to develop mathematical models for solving complex biological problems like cancer. Prof. Ganguly in his presiding note explained the current status of cancer therapeutics, pipeline of new drugs; ups and downs in HPV vaccine development in India and the journey towards effective HPV vaccine. Dr. Chiplunkar as the president of the society welcomed the delegates and highlighted the vision of IACR to bring scientists and clinicians on a common platform to form a better bond, facilitate exchange of innovative ideas and the wealth of knowledge available and ultimately help finding cures.. Delivering the keynote address Prof. Hausen talked about “The search for a causative role of infection in human cancer”. He talked about his pioneer work on cervical cancer and HPVs, colon cancer and its association with bovine viruses and red meat linked model for Leukemias.
The highly energetic and motivating inaugural session was followed by cultural night having bombastic, mind boggling performances of students in the form of Panjabi bhangra, contemporary dance style. Some of the show stealing performances were by students from north east in the form of their traditional folk dances.
On second day of this convention a daylong International Symposium on Infection and cancer dwelt on science establishing the link between infection and cancer. Basic, translational and industrial research developments in the field of HPV vaccine and its future prospects were highlighted. Prof. Harald zur Hausen also delivered a public lecture, “Are we losing the war against cancer?” which was open for outsiders and all students of the university. His talk was an appropriate amalgamation of the successes and the loopholes in the path of vaccine development. He also explained the importance of global programme of HPV vaccination for boys along with girls which will result in a better coverage and drastically reduce cervical cancer incidence. The major concern about HPV vaccine is its high cost; future insights for a developing country like India demands a state of art research for a better, cheaper and safer vaccine.
Right before the talk in the free time we students had a great time interacting him learning about his research that established the link between colon cancer, red meat consumption implicating the involvement of bovine viruses in colon cancer development, the two hit model for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and role of infection in it etc. It was an indeed a great opportunity and an encouraging experience for us to talk with a Noble laureate in person.
DBT and ICMR representatives talked about funding opportunities to pursue research in frontier areas of translational cancer research and emerging cancer research areas. Apart from talks, the conference featured a vibrant poster session by students. Smt Mangala Bamane award and Shri Sitaram Jogelkar award for oral presentation and Young scientist awards further encouraged young participants to take part in this conference.
If food for thought wasn’t plenty enough, exquisite Indian and continental food with appetizing beverages at Indian Habitat Centre lightened the scientific atmosphere. All in all, IACR2013 was an immense success that involved Cancerians from research as well as clinical sides.