Skip to content

Wales Cancer Research Conference 2024 showcases research success and collaboration

The Wales Cancer Research Conference 2024 was held on Monday 4 March at the National Museum Cardiff, bringing together cancer researchers and stakeholders from across the UK.   The event, hosted by the Wales Cancer Research Centre (WCRC), aimed to celebrate recent successes in cancer research, share plans for the future, and provide a platform for networking and collaboration.

The conference opened with keynote speakers addressing critical topics in cancer research and began with Prof Eva Morris (Oxford University) delving into the power of cancer data and emphasising potential future directions for the UK. Dr Andrew Furness (The Royal Marsden) then explored the emerging landscape of solid tumour cellular therapies, discussing current perspectives and future advances and Julie Hepburn (WCRC) and Lowri Griffiths (Wales Cancer Alliance) followed with a presentation on patient and public involvement (PPI) in cancer research.

Julie Hepburn, Lead Lay Research Partner for the WCRC said:

“The WCRC Conference was a full-on active day for me as one of the speakers, a judge for the posters, filming a piece for Health and Care Research Wales and being on the stand to talk to anyone interested in PPI.  It was a great networking opportunity, and I had some very constructive conversations with researchers, some of whom I’d never met before. The conference was well attended and speaking to an audience of 300 people was a bit daunting, but worked well on the day, thanks to the support of the Hub Team.  A very satisfying day overall.”

The conference then continued with breakout sessions featuring guest speakers exploring topics under the six CReSt (Wales Cancer Research Strategy) themes and ended with a panel discussion and questions on addressing socioeconomic inequity in cancer detection and diagnosis.

Professor Mererid Evans, Director of the WCRC said:

“Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the Wales Cancer Research Conference 2024, and collectively made it a day that I will remember for a long time to come! The National Museum of Wales was a fabulous venue, the speakers – both from within Wales and around the UK – were excellent, and the enthusiasm and interest from everyone who attended was clear to see. I very much hope that the conference will become an annual event, which will help support our community of cancer researchers and stakeholders in Wales to go from strength to strength in the years to come. Diolch yn fawr i bawb.“

WCRC funder Health and Care Research Wales who both exhibited at the event and attended the sessions also found the conference to be a great opportunity to network. Dr Nicola Williams, National Director of Support and Delivery added:

“On behalf of Health and Care Research Wales I’d like to congratulate the Wales Cancer Research Centre for an excellent conference, which was full of valuable insights into cancer research and provided plentiful opportunities to network and engage with partners from across the research community.”

Prize winners Dr Michelle Edwards with prize presented by Bob McAlister (left), Dr Luned Badder, prize presented by Dr Lee Parry (top right) and Dr Daniel Turnham prize presented by Dr Christopher Scrase.

One of the highlights of the event were the superb posters on display which showcased the innovative cancer research taking place across Wales. There were three prizes available for posters and they were judged in categories that celebrate the variety of research disciplines championed across Wales: patient and public involvement, scientific excellence, and impact in practice. The winning posters were Dr Michelle Edwards for her poster:  ‘Patient and Public Involvement in a Pan European Palliative Care Study: the Serenity study PPI protocol’ (PPI), Dr Luned Badder for her poster ‘Delivery of suicide therapies using a precision virotherapy; novel approaches for pancreatic cancer’ (Scientific Excellence), and Dr Daniel Turnham for his work on ‘Preclinical evaluation of a novel antibody drug conjugate for prostate cancer’ (Impact in Practice).

On winning the prize, Dr Luned Badder said:

“I was delighted to win the poster prize at the WCRC conference and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be able to discuss our work on developing precision virotherapies for cancer with various attendees including other research scientists, clinicians and patient advocates. Not only did the conference programme cover a wide range of topics, from innovative science to clinical impact, but also highlighted some of the key challenges that remain to be addressed to ultimately improve cancer patient benefit in Wales. The event certainly provided a unique networking opportunity and successfully brought together the thriving cancer research community in Wales.”

Dr Michelle Edwards, winner of the PPI prize said:

“The conference featured a varied representation of some of the excellent research we are doing in Wales and useful insights from researchers from outside Wales. I was delighted to win the award (along with Kathy Seddon as a public contributor) for best poster demonstrating excellence in patient and public involvement for the work we are doing to develop a patient and public involvement strategy for the Horizon Europe funded SERENITY Study. SERENITY will develop a shared decision-making tool for managing anti-thrombotic therapy in cancer patients towards the end-of-life. The five-year study involves eight countries and has seven packages of work and we have put together a flexible and responsive strategy to ensure that patients and public are included in all areas of the study in as many countries as we can. The PIRIT toolkit is helping us plan and track the impact of our patient and public contributions.” 

Dr Dan Turnham said:

“The conference was a great opportunity to catch up on all the latest research that is currently being undertaken in Wales and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the fantastic talks. Given the number of high-quality posters being showcased, I was honoured to be awarded a prize for my poster describing the development of our novel antibody drug conjugate for the treatment of prostate cancer and I hope that the discussions that took place during this networking session will lead to new and exciting collaborations in the future.”

Visitors also praised the conference for its inspiring content; India Tresadern from the All-Wales Medical Genomics Service said:

“I spent a brilliant day at the Wales Cancer Research Conference. It’s so easy to forget that cancer exists outside of the context in which you work with it; it was a privilege to see a variety of talks showcasing ground-breaking cancer research from all angles and it was an amazing opportunity for reflecting on how my own work on the QuicDNA study ties into the wider clinical picture. Thank you to Wales Cancer Research Centre for coordinating such an insightful and well-rounded day, I hope I can come back armed with a poster in years to come!”

Alongside the talks, networking sessions and posters, the conference also featured a number of exhibitor stands which were run by conference sponsors and partners of the Wales Cancer Research Centre. These included Health and Care Research Wales, Tenovus, AstraZeneca, Cytiva, Cancer Research Wales, Advanced Therapies Wales, The Centre for Trials Research, the Wales Cancer Biobank, the Wales Cancer Bioinformatics Network and the WCRC Patient and Public Involvement team. Roche and the Wales Cancer Network were also in attendance as sponsors and networked with visitors throughout the day.  Exhibitors were welcome to attend the conference talks and many attendees took the opportunity interact with them but also had the opportunity to talk to visitors about their areas of expertise and make connections during the networking sessions.

Debbie Worthing from Advanced Therapies Wales said:

“As an exhibitor and sponsor, I was impressed with the organisation of the Wales Cancer Research Conference. The presentations I attended were both informative and accessible, avoiding the common pitfall of overwhelming data and statistics. The overall atmosphere was welcoming and friendly, providing a conducive environment for engaging discussions. Personally, the conference offered a delightful opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues I hadn’t seen in many years, adding a touch of joy to an already sociable and enriching experience.”

The Wales Cancer Research Conference 2024 not only celebrated achievements but also served as a platform to strengthen collaboration and advance cancer research. The WCRC is very grateful to all speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees for making this such a successful and engaging event that we hope to build on in 2025.

Thanks to our conference sponsors: