Latest findings from cancer research under a gothic roof: international conference brought researchers to the New Town Hall

Top scientists discussed the latest findings in colon and pancreatic cancer research at the international conference "Current Understanding of Colorectal and Pancreatic Cancers (CUCAP)" on 29 and 30 May 2023. The successful event was organized by the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen of the Charles University in cooperation with the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Important aspects of colon and pancreatic cancer research were presented through lectures by renowned speakers from many countries. The topics included epidemiology, genetics, epigenetics, microbiome and treatment of these serious diseases. The conference also provided a platform for young researchers to present their results in the form of posters and discuss their research.

Colorectal cancer is one of the critical problems in the West Bohemia region. This is one of the reasons why the research at the Biomedical Centre focuses on these types of cancer. The availability of a large pool of samples and patients with colorectal cancer in Pilsen is a great advantage for conducting studies in this area.

The main organizers of the conference were Professor Kari Hemminki, the central person of the ERA Chair "Chaperon" project at the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen of the Charles University, and Dr. Pavel Vodička, head of the Department of Molecular Biology of Cancer at the Institute of Experimental Medicine CAS. Professor Hemminki is a recognized expert in the field of epidemiology and genetics of cancer. Prior to his appointment as the "ERA chair" at the Pilsen faculty, he led a research group at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Now, thanks to the Chaperon project, he founded and leads the Laboratory of Translational Cancer Genomics at the Biomedical Centre of the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen. Dr. Vodička is one of the researchers of the Chaperon project and a member of the Laboratory of Tumor Treatment and Tissue Regeneration at the Biomedical Center, and he also heads the Department of Molecular Biology of Cancer at the Institute of Experimental Medicine CAS. Dr. Vodička has been a recognized expert in the molecular epidemiology of cancer for many years, at both the national and international levels.

The conference was opened by the Rector of Charles University, Prof. Milena Králíčková, and during the opening ceremony she presented Dr. Pavel Vodička with a silver commemorative medal of the Charles University for his contribution to the development of medical sciences. Other guests who, together with the Rector, opened the conference, were the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen of the Charles University, Prof. Jindřich Fínek, and the Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the CAS, Ing. Jan Topinka.

The conference was a unique gathering in the Czech Republic, which brought together the top personalities in the field – a total of almost a hundred participants from three continents. Among other participants, the conference was honored to host:

  • Ulrike Peters, from the Division of Epidemiology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, USA, a leader in research on the molecular epidemiology and biology of colorectal cancer. She leads the international GECCO consortium, which brings together scientists from all over the world (USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia).
  • Federico Canzian, from the Department of Genetics and Epidemiology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, is the long-standing leader of the European PANDORA consortium and, from 2022, the leader of the COST project bringing together scientists researching pancreatic cancer.
  • Sergi Castellví-Bel, Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona. Principal Investigator of two consecutive European COST projects looking in detail at the genetics of colorectal cancer.
  • Richarda de Voer, Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, is a prominent figure in the molecular genetics of solid tumors.
  • Alessio Naccarati from the Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine (IIGM), Candiolo, Italy, who is also with the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the CAS. His main research topic is the application of liquid biopsy methods and epigenetics in further characterization of colorectal cancer.
  • Claire Palles, Department of Genetics and Genomics, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Science, University of Birmingham, UK. A leader in colorectal cancer research. Discovered a key polymerase enzyme proofreading in colorectal carcinogenesis.
  • Ondřej Slabý, Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics, Masaryk Cancer Institute, Czech Republic. A prominent, world-renowned protagonist of research on non-coding RNA molecules in carcinogenesis.

The conference was held under the auspices of the "ERA Chair" Chaperon project (ERA Chair Position for Excellent Research in Oncology), hosted by the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University. The main idea of the "ERA Chair" projects is to bring excellent scientists to developing universities and research institutions, thus injecting them with world-class know-how in research. These projects operate on two levels - the presence of a top researcher in the position of "ERA Chair" allows, on the one hand, to attract, retain and increase the quality of human resources and, on the other hand, to make the structural changes necessary to achieve excellence in the institution. The Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen of the Charles University was one of only four successful applicants in the Czech Republic for this grant in the Horizon 2020 call in 2019. In the follow-up Horizon Europe call, the Czech Republic was awarded five grants, so there are a total of 9 of these prestigious positions in the country.

During the Chaperon project, Professor Hemminki's research team has already published more than 80 research papers. Among the most important results, which also deal with malignancies other than the main focus of the conference, are two studies on hepatocellular carcinoma.

These studies have revealed important links between the course of the disease and the infiltration of immune cells into the tumor and its surroundings, along with genetic mutations in the tumor cells. These findings may contribute to the development of new approaches to the treatment of this type of cancer.

We would also like to thank Jitka Horáková, Petr Hošek, Barbora Černíková, Lenka Kuberková and Petra Havlíčková for the perfect preparation and organization of the congress.

You can see photos from the event here.


Prof. MUDr. Václav Liška, Ph.D.

Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Pilsen

Member of the Chaperon research team


Charles University
Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen
Biomedical Center

alej Svobody 1655/76
323 00 Plzeň – Severní Předměstí

T: +420 377 593 810
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Log in to your account or Create an account