The 3rd NOTCH Research Symposium took place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in March 2023, and was a real showcase for present and future oncology research in the UK. From sessions led by global experts to informal coffee conversations, it was a fantastic opportunity to build our ever-growing oncology research community. Here’s a flavour of the event.
A key theme was making sure oncology care meets the needs of the populations it aims to serve. Dr Nicolo Battisti (Royal Marsden, London) opened proceedings with a fantastic talk about Geriatric Oncology, a rapidly growing community in which Dr Battisti represents a global leader. With our aging population, he challenged us to consider how cancer care, often tested via clinical trials in young, fit patients, can be best adapted for older patients to balance benefits and harms. Keeping patients at the heart of our research was a message reinforced by Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Advisor Lynn Laidlaw (University of Manchester), who gave a hugely valuable perspective on how we ensure PPI is meaningful and productive.
We were also challenged to consider how gold-standard cancer care can be achieved in other communities through two fantastic talks on Global Oncology. Dr Susannah Stanway from the UK Global Oncology Network gave a great overview of the challenges facing clinicians and patients in low and middle income countries (LMICs), as well as the collaborations and communities that are growing to meet these challenges. This provided the perfect context to hear from Prof Hannah Simmonds (University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust), who shared her real-world experience of research in South Africa studying cervical cancer in a population with a high rate of HIV positive patients. A clear shared message was the need for more research, conducted by oncologists in LMICs for patients in LMICs, if the clinical needs of these populations are to be met.
Another stand-out theme was exploring different routes into research. Dr Richard Turkington (Queens University Belfast) shared his own research journey which led him to work closely with industry. Dr Peter Hall (University of Edinburgh) opened our eyes to the possibilities of real world data, something that lies at the very heart of all NOTCH projects. Prof Sarah Blagden (University of Oxford) gave a hugely motivational insight into life as a Clinician Scientist with the clarion call ‘Clinician Scientists are Winners!’. It was brilliant to hear the huge diversity of research options out there for trainees to explore, all offering different ways to make a major impact on the experience of patients with cancer.
The Research Symposium also offered a venue for showcasing the fantastic research being conducted by trainees around the UK. From the high-quality abstracts submitted, three were selected for oral presentation. The winning oral presentation was from Dr Molly Jameson, with the best poster being awarded to Dr Katherine Piddock. In addition we heard from selected NOTCH projects to give delegates a flavour of the kind of clinical research undertaken by the network. It's clear that despite the many challenges and pressures facing doctors in training, the motivation and dedication to conduct meaningful research for patients with cancer is higher than ever.
If you want to get involved with NOTCH, we hope you’ll become a member, get involved with a project, or submit a project proposal. It could be you presenting your work at next year’s Research Symposium! We look forward to seeing you there.
Dr Karin Purshouse
NOTCH 2023 Vice Chair