Productive DISCERN Kick-Off Meeting in Barcelona

May 19, 2023

The DISCERN Kick-off meeting convened in Barcelona at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) platform for scientists and patient representatives across Europe to engage in productive discussions and coordinate research efforts. The meeting provided an opportunity to define priorities and practical cooperation in tackling the project challenges. Our scientific team, represented by Marianna Vitaloni and Haidar Akl, joined the meeting on behalf of DiCE.

The meeting started with an introduction by the co-chairs, Paul Breman from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Marc Gunter from the Imperial College London, highlighting the significance of DISCERN in the discovery of three poorly understood cancers in Europe, kidney, pancreatic and colorectal cancers. To do that, they attempted to answer three main questions: What is the problem? What is DISCERN trying to solve? What can realistically be achieved?

Each of the eight Work Packages (WP) from DISCERN was allocated a special session to give presentations on its specific research objectives and activities. The internal and external exposome, the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health, were assessed in WP2 respectively by Elliott J Price, Petra Bořilová Linhartová, Eva Budinská, Ondrej Mikes from Masaryk University and Jelle Vlaanderen from Utrecht University.

WP3 focused on genomics with Abel Gonzalez-Perez, Ferriol Calvet and Raquel Blanco from the IRB. At the same time, WP1 centred on managing the biorepositories, a facility that collects, catalogues, and stores samples of biological material. Aida Ferreiro explored novel avenues for understanding the geographic variation of mutagenic exposures in kidney cancer genomes.

In WP4, the presentations were divided into two parts. In part 1, David Muller from the Imperial College London and Karl Smith-Byrne from the University of Oxford elaborated on analysing circulating proteomics, the study of the structure and function of proteins, including the way they work and interact with each other inside cells, while in part 2 Charlotte Stadler and Tony Ullman from Scilifelab focused on the analysis of tissue proteomics.

On the second day, WP gatherings layered the foundation for collaborative efforts by bringing together experts from diverse fields to address various aspects of the research. These sessions allowed stakeholders from different WPs to share their expertise, exchange ideas, and align their efforts toward common goals.

DiCE and our partners in WP7, Pancreatic Cancer Europe (PCE) and the WP leader International Kidney Cancer Coalition (IKCC) have engaged in intensive discussions on the best way to communicate, disseminate, and exploit the expected discoveries from DISCERN.

Machine learning and data integration was the main topic in WP5 with Vivian Viallon (IARC), Marc Chadeau-Hyam, David Muller and Karl Smith-Byrne from Imperial College London). Peter Bouwman and Mazène Hochane from Leiden University explained the Biological effects of WP6. Rachel Giles’ presentation “Meet your patient stakeholders” explained the importance of WP7 in empowering cancer patients through advocacy, awareness, information, and research.

As the meeting ended, participants expressed their commitment to communicate and network to drive progress in DISCERN research actively. The discussions and outcomes of DISCERN meeting will serve as a roadmap for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment across Europe.

For more information, please visit


Haidar Akl

In order to facilitate the use of our website, we use cookies.

Please confirm if you accept our tracking cookies. When declining the cookies, you can continue visiting the website without sending data to third party services. Read our complete cookie statement here.