Some 150 people attended the 2019 PCRF Supporters Conference at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London on 29 November.
As ever, it was an upbeat day, packed with presentations from researchers whose innovative research is funded by PCRF, thanks to the fundraising efforts of our supporters.
The aim of the Conference is to keep those who donate to the charity up to date with the progress of the research they help to fund, as PCRF CEO Maggie Blanks explains.
“It’s really important that the people who provide the money for the research know how that money is being spent, what the researchers are doing with it and the progress it’s enabling,” she says.
“However, a lot of academic research is pretty incomprehensible to most people. So the Supporters Conference is an opportunity for the researchers we fund to explain their work in simple terms that we can all understand and for our supporters to ask whatever questions they wish.”
Because the PCRF-funded researchers are experts in their fields, they can talk not only about their own projects, but also about the overall landscape of research into pancreatic cancer and where the most exciting advances are being made.
Professor John Marshall, whose PCRF-funded work at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is adapting viruses to carry drugs to pancreatic cancer tumours, gave an overview on the new approaches being developed to target pancreatic cancer and how the research PCRF fund fits into this. We also invited PHD student, Lavanya Sivapalan from QMUL to talk about her research into liquid biopsies and the promise they hold for pancreatic cancer patients (pictured above, with Maggie Blanks).
This year, we also invited Professor Bill Greenhalf of the EUROPAC registry at the University of Liverpool, to talk about genetic predisposition for pancreatic cancer and how this can be passed down through families. The EUROPAC study offers screening to people with high incidence of pancreatic cancer in their families, to help identify early symptoms of the disease.
Other researchers who provided updates on their own PCRF-funded projects included Dr Tanja Crnogorac-Jurcevic who recently launched the UroPanc clinical study to validate a urine test for pancreatic cancer. If successful, the urine test will be developed into the first such test in the world.
Also on the programme were Dr Patrick Forde, who is investigating the use of electric pulses to sensitise pancreatic cancer cells to chemotherapy; and Dr Mairead McNamara who is looking at whether the BRCA genetic mutation, seen in some breast and ovarian cancers, could be present in some pancreatic cancer, which could help identify more targeted treatments for those patients.
The Supporters Conference is held every two years and is appreciated by all those who take part.
One supporter told us that the event felt ‘like a big happy family’, while another said: “It was a wonderful event on Friday. The presentations were outstanding and I learnt a great deal.”