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UNCAN.eu: a European initiative to better understand cancer

Kick-off meeting for the Coordination and Support Action 4.UNCAN.eu

No. 53c | 26/09/2022

The Coordination and Support Action "4.UNCAN.eu" had its official kick-off on September 8-9 2022 with a public event hosted by Inserm at les Cordeliers, Paris, France.

© uncan.eu

4.UNCAN.eu CSA : Pave the way for UNCAN.eu initiative
An initiative to better UNderstand CANcer (UNCAN.eu) is part of the implementation roadmap of two programs of the European Union (EU), Europe's Beating Cancer Plan and the Horizon Europe Mission on Cancer. The role of 4.UNCAN.eu CSA is to prepare a blueprint for UNCAN.eu within the next 15 months.
The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) attaches great importance to European networking in the fight against cancer and is intensively involved in this important European project as a core partner of UNCAN.eu
"The intensive collaboration from scientists of across the EU within the EU Cancer Mission will provide an important boost to cancer research in Europe," says Michael Baumann, Scientific Director and Chairman of the Board of DKFZ.
Michael Boutros, head of the project at DKFZ, is convinced that the focus of UNCAN.eu initiative on better networking of European research infrastructures and research data will significantly reduce existing hurdles in the fight against cancer.

UNCAN.eu : an initiative to federate Member States against cancer
Across the 27 EU Member States, 2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and 1.3 million die from the disease, of which over 6,000 are children, adolescents and young adults. Over half a million of European citizens are childhood cancer survivors dealing with long-term effects of the disease and its treatment, with cancer being the leading cause of child mortality from disease in Europe. Cancer puts an immense pressure on health systems, which will only become stronger with increasing life expectancies.
A new level of investment to better understand cancer is needed to promote new thinking and hopefully new breakthroughs in our ability to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease. To this end, Europe calls for a strengthened collaboration among Member States to consolidate their stakes regarding data sciences to enable a leap forward in modern oncology and efficiently hinder the rise of disease burden.
The information, collected within UNCAN.eu, will be used by stakeholders in Europe and beyond to address the various urgent and critical scientific and medical challenges in cancer prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and survival, in men, women and children.
This initiative is expected to collect research and patient health data, as well other relevant data, at an unprecedented scale to gain new and deeper understanding of cancer mechanisms. The global ambition of this initiative is to further knowledge and guide improvements in cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment, including treatment-related side effects. This will ultimately provide the basis to save millions of lives and improve the quality of life of cancer survivors and their caretakers.

Two main missions: building a Federated Data Hud and providing a Research Agenda
The blueprint for UNCAN.eu will integrate inequalities in cancer research across regions and Member States to boost the research potential of less-developed regions in Europe. A dedicated workpackage, led by the ECPC (https://ecpc.org/health-and-research/4-uncan-eu/), will ensure that patients' and citizens' expectations and priorities are heard and taken into account when identifying all challenges.
A Research Agenda including a series of use cases addressing urgent and essential scientific and medical needs in cancer prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and survivorship, in males and females of various ages will be delivered by the 4.UNCAN.eu teams. This agenda will then be used to help determine the most competitive, ambitious and innovative cross-border and transdisciplinary research programs to invest in.
Players will be committed to open science principles, including FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) guiding principles for scientific data collection, management and stewardship.
The new understanding gained from the collection and analysis of this wealth of data can be applied secondarily to other diseases.

A committed European team towards a stronger European research:
The meeting was opened by Prof. Eric Solary of Inserm, who coordinates the project. An introduction to the EU Cancer Mission and Horizon Europe – EU cancer funded research followed by Mrs Christine Chomienne, Mission Cancer Board and Mr Ioannis Vouldis, UNCAN Project Officer, respectively.
Dedicated presentations from Charles Swanton, CRUK (Evolution, Metastasis and Immune Evasion: Insights from TRACERx); Jan Korbel, EMBL (Cancer Research data Hub); and Genevieve Almouzni, Curie Institute (LifeTime initiative), followed.
The representatives of the 29 institutions and organizations participating in the project have highlighted the importance of this scientific initiative, renewing their commitment and support toward the project while the main point of the meeting was the presentation of the activities that the partners will carry out during the 15 months of this project.

More information about 4.UNCAN.eu can be found at the project's website: http://uncaninitiative.eu/ 

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Cancer Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

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