ICEP Launch Event Report

Wet weather did little to dampen spirits at the Launch of the Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme, held at the MShed on Bristol’s historic harbourside.  The event was a great success with media interest and appeared on the BBC news: Watch the BBC Points West video report on the ICEP Launch. The event also got media coverage in The Guardian with an interesting article written by one of UoB’s researchers, Olivia Maynard about the evening public lecture on electronic cigarettes: Read the Guardian article.

Programme leads Professors Richard Martin and Caroline Relton introduced a number of excellent speakers ranging from the internationally–renowned Professor Sir Richard Peto and Professor George Davey Smith to early career researchers and international collaborators. 

Introducing the Programme, Professor Richard Martin explained the key aims, highlighting the integration of high-throughput ‘omics’ platforms with large-scale cancer population-based epidemiology to identify:

  • Causal targets for primary or tertiary prevention
  • Metabolomic and epigenetic biomarkers
  • Mechanisms underpinning causal associations

Another key feature of the Programme is represented by the cross cutting strands, which link into all three workpackages and cover:  

  • Bioinformatics (including a web-based data access platform)
  • Postgraduate & postdoctoral training
  • Knowledge transfer (public health / clinical translation)

Topics presented illustrated the wide range of population-based cancer research currently underway.  Presentations included talks from Professor Kenneth Muir on cancer screening and risk in Manchester, and the linking of genetic and environmental factors to support education towards cancer prevention in the population.  Dr. Mattias Johansson, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, discussed the research technique of Mendelian Randomisation and application to smoking-related cancers. Dr. Jen Ware presented a description of a study looking at evidence for a causal effect of coffee consumption on heaviness of smoking and smoking cessation, using a two-sample Mendelian randomisation analysis.

Rebecca Richmond gave details of her research into Cancer Prevention in the early years, and the use of biomarkers, while Dr. Philip Haycock explained a new study aimed at maximising the potential of genetic data for causal inference and translation, using automation of the Mendelian Randomisation analysis pipeline.

“Is cancer bad luck?” was the title of a presentation by Professor George Davey Smith, a pioneer of the Mendelian Randomisation technique and an acknowledged international expert in the field of epidemiology.  Despite our current strong understanding of some causes of cancer, the talk highlighted the areas which still confound science and the apparent random nature of cancer.

The keynote speaker, Professor Sir Richard Peto, spoke about halving premature death, examining mortality on a global scale.    Highlighting trends linking several factors to premature death, including tobacco and alcohol consumption, his talk emphasized the need to continue the focus on reducing such risk factors, including the importance of continuing to aim to reach the Millennium Development goals for Health.  

Following the presentations during the afternoon an evening public lecture addressed the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes in supporting a reduction in smoking.  The speakers included Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, and Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Prevention Champion, and Marcus Munafò,  Professor of Biological Psychology, School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol.  The lecture was chaired by Professor Gabriel Scally, Visiting Professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England and extensive experience both within the NHS and the Department of Health. The discussion concluded that e-cigarettes can play a positive role in helping reduce smoking. 

Hugh Brady

Richard Martin

Caroline Relton

George Davey Smith

Richard Peto

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