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Research Symposium 2024: Thoughts from our Oral Presentation Prize winner

'As an aspiring clinician-scientist in medical oncology, I had the absolute joy of attending NOTCH’s 4th Annual Research Symposium held in Newcastle upon Tyne last month. The event was a testament to the dedication of the research community to come together and celebrate advancements in cancer research – especially given the numerous train disruptions that week!

 

The symposium featured an array of exceptional poster and oral presentations, showcasing outstanding projects led by trainees, as well as informative sessions by esteemed collaborators and speakers such as Dr Roques and Dr Denholm. This was my first significant interaction with the NOTCH team, and it opened my eyes to the wonderful opportunities available for collaboration. I have always wondered how to design and launch projects that could be circulated nationally to boost collaborative efforts in research, and attending this conference showed me how NOTCH can support trainees in setting up projects – from giving vital feedback at a project’s inception to providing a platform for sharing research opportunities and finding collaborators. Knowing that it is possible through NOTCH to get much-needed input from my peers, it feels much more feasible now to envision myself setting up a nationally collaborative project.

 

Given my interest in prognostic modelling, I was particularly inspired by Dr Jenner’s talk on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in oncology, especially how it can help us perform regressions. The project I presented at NOTCH was a novel prognostic score I developed for patients with metastatic bladder cancer on single-agent immunotherapy. For this, I had manually performed the analyses and selected key variables based on these findings to create my prognostic score. Seeing how AI could rapidly develop such scores, with clinician input (for example to manage collinearity of variables), transformed how I think about the future of prognostic modelling using real-world data – specifically, focusing on robust validation of scores built on vast amounts of data rather than spending the bulk of initial time manually selecting significant variables. Of course, to ensure clinical safety and robustness, this automation requires careful efforts and strong interdisciplinary teamwork between data scientists and clinicians.

 

The symposium left me inspired and eager for future advancements in cancer research. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to present my work and honoured to have received the oral presentation prize. My experience at the symposium reaffirmed my passion for research and the invaluable contributions of the scientific community. Many thanks to all involved, including the organisers, speakers, sponsors, and fellow attendees, for making this event possible. Looking forward to the next symposium!'


Dr Vishwani Chauhan

Academic FY2 Doctor

Barts Health NHS Trust

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