31.01.2018 - 10:00 Author:
Mari Kaunisto

Precision oncology team retreat 2018

Each year, a broad range of FIMM researchers, technology experts and clinical collaborators working with the FIMM Individualised Systems Medicine (ISM) Grand Challenge gather for a scientific retreat. This time, the barren but beautiful Tvärminne Zoological Station served as the meeting venue for close to 60 participants in mid-January.

The most important and fundamental aspect of the ISM Grand Challenge projects is to investigate patient-derived tumour cells to predict efficacy of emerging and established cancer drugs in real time for molecular subgroups of cancer. The programme was established in 2010 as a collaborative research effort initially between FIMM and the haematology department at the Helsinki University Central Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. Later this effort has expanded to different types of solid tumours with emerging patient derived cell culture protocols in collaboration with departments at HUS as well as to other hospitals in Finland.

The retreat programme 2018 featured three scientific and technology driven themes. These sessions were enhanced with more interactive activities, a panel discussion among group leaders about their future personal goals converging towards of the ISM Grand Challenge and round table discussions on topics of emerging needs and future action points of precision medicine.

In his welcoming words, Professor Olli Kallioniemi highlighted the collaborative nature and the scientific success of the programme thus far and emphasized the importance of continuous development and advanced thinking in being a globally competitive and leading precision cancer medicine team. 

The first session focused on haematological malignancies, especially acute myeloid leukaemia. FIMM PhD students Disha Malani, Samuli Eldfors, Heikki Kuusanmäki and Muntasir Majumder from the Kallioniemi and Heckman groups presented their latest results.

In the second session, Pirkko Mattila, Imre Västrik, Johan Lundin, Jani Saarela and Markus Vähä-Koskela described recent technological advancements in the fields of single cell analytics, deep machine learning, high-throughput screening and data management to take FIMM ISM efforts to the next level.

The stimulating panel discussion was centred on future plans and focus points of each of the PI involved the ISM grand challenge. It became evident that improving the consistency of the drug sensitivity testing results is of interest to all panelists and many possible confounding factors and potential solutions were discussed.

During the evening, the participants enjoyed a pleasant dinner followed by a poster session followed by socializing, sauna and thrilling ice swimming.

We were very pleased with enthusiasm of the participants, intuitive panel discussion session and fun filled social evening.

Disha Malani, one of the organizers of the retreat


The last session on the second day of the retreat concentrated on solid tumours. Senior Researchers Vilja Pietiäinen and Teijo Pellinen from the Kallioniemi group and Group Leader Emmy Verschuren shared their views on cancer cell profiling and functional heterogeneity of lung cancer. Group Leader Jing Tang ended the session by describing future goals of iCombine team, a winner of the Helsinki Challenge 2017.

Last updated: 07.02.2018 - 11:32