13th International Wolfsberg Meeting on Molecular Radiation Biology/Oncology 2013

From June 22-24, 2013, the 13th International Wolfsberg Meeting on Molecular Radi-ation Biology/Oncology organized in association with ESTRO, the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, brought together nearly 170 basic, translational and clinical scientists from 19 different countries worldwide.

In 2012 the organizers of this meeting decided to rearrange the program structure of this meeting in order to promote young investigators in the field of molecular radiation biology and translational radiation oncology even better than in the past. Thus, start-ing with this year´s 13th edition of the Wolfsberg Meeting Series a new session, i.e. the Young Investigators Platform, was established to provide young colleagues just receiving international visibility the possibility to be selected by the organizers to pre-sent an Invited Lecture on their specified field of research. Moreover, the Young In-vestigators Platform is also the perfect stage for the ESTRO-VARIAN Juliana Denekamp Award Lecture. The organizers strongly believe that this new arrange-ment provides an excellent platform for the upcoming stars in the field independent of their specified research topic.

Unfortunately, the invited speaker Dr. Deric Wheeler, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, could not attend the meeting due to very severe family reasons. Thus, Saskia Rademakers from Nijmegen had the privilege to open the Young Investigators Plat-form with an excellent Late Breaking Abstract talk on Pattern of CAIX expression is prognostic for outcome and predicts response to ARCON in patients with laryngeal cancer treated in a phase III randomised trial. Another highlight of this session was the ESTRO-VARIAN Juliana Denekamp Awardee Lecture by Kasper Rouschop. With the award lecture entitled PERK-signaling and autophagy activation is required for survival of therapy resistant hypoxic cells Kasper demonstrated his excellence in basic and translational radiation biology/oncology.

The newest developments in basic, preclinical and translational research with respect to mechanisms and clinical perspectives in the topics of Signaling Cascades and Survival Mechanisms, DNA-Damage Response, Biomarkers and Targeting Strate-gies, and Tumor and Normal Tissue Microenvironment were presented by invited lectures (Bernard Salles, Toulouse, and Anthony Chalmers, Glasgow / Anna Du-brovska and Mechthild Krause, both Dresden / Thomas Iftner, Tübingen, and Jesper Eriksen, Odense), proffered paper talks (Bo Xu, Birmingham, USA, Malin Lando, Os-lo, Barry Jütten, Maastricht / Sandeep Burma, Dallas, Nathan Martin, Los Angeles, Kum Kum Khanna, Brisbane / Philippe Lambin, Maastricht, Paul Harari, Madison, Nicolaj Andreassen, Aarhus / Thorsten Rieckmann, Hamburg, Richard Hill, Toronto, Marianne Koritzinsky, Toronto) and a total of 120 posters. All of these presentations indicated that molecular radiation biology/oncology is a highly vivid research field in oncology providing excellent data and insights both at the basic and translational lev-el towards the understanding of tumor cell responses to radiotherapy as well as chemo-radiotherapy. Understanding these principles is essential for the development of interfering strategies.

Traditionally, the poster sessions of the Wolfsberg Meeting are the most important platform for intensive scientific discussions. Especially for young scientists and PhD-students, the poster sessions provide the excellent possibility to present and discuss their research approaches with established and internationally recognized scientists. Moreover and like in previous editions of the Wolfsberg Meeting Series, also this year the poster sessions also provided the perfect platform to initiate research collabora-tions. Last, but not least the poster sessions serve as a job market for PhD students, who are about to receive their degree and are looking for a postdoc position.

Wolfsberg Poster Awards 2013

The Wolfsberg Poster Award is another highlight of this Meeting Series and has be-come a prestigious award in molecular radiation biology/oncology research. Alto-gether in the four topics 120 posters were presented. This year, to equalize the num-ber of competing posters to app. 40, the posters in topic I and II were put together. Thus, in total 3 awards were presented this year. Based on at least five independent judgements by the poster jurors for each topic, the Wolfsberg Poster Awards 2013 were presented to

  • Chann Lagadec, Lille, France (Topic I/II, poster # PI.17, Radiation-induced re-programing of breast cancer cells)
  • Kerstin Borgmann, Hamburg, Germany (Topic III, poster # PIII.16, Replication-dependent radiosensitization by inhibition of Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase depends on the RAD51 expression status)
  • Rob Coppes, Groningen, The Netherlands (Topic IV, poster # PIV.30, Salivary gland CD24hi/CD29hi stem cells self-renew, differentiate in vitro and rescue radiation-induced hyposalivation

The organizers gratefully acknowledge the financial support for the poster awards by the Austrian Society for Radiation Oncology (ÖGRO), the German Society for Radia-tion Oncology, DEGRO, and the Scientific Association of Swiss Radiation Oncology (SASRO) as well as Roche Pharma AG Switzerland.

Moreover, to keep the conference fee as low as possible in order to allow participa-tion of especially young and highly qualified scientists is not possible without financial support from scientific organizations, foundations and companies. Therefore, the or-ganizers gratefully acknowledge the support by the European Society for Radiother-apy & Oncology (ESTRO), the Swiss Cancer League, the Lieselotte Beutel Stiftung, Germany, Medipan GmbH, Germany, Merck KGaA, Germany, Merck Serono, Swit-zerland, Philips AG, Healthcare, Switzerland, Swiss National Fund, the University Hospital Zürich, the University Hospital Tübingen, Varian Medical Systems Int. AG, Switzerland and Xstrahl Ltd, United Kingdom.

Wolfsberg Travel Awards 2013

During the traditional Wolfsberg Barbecue on Saturday evening the Wolfsberg Travel Awards were presented to PhD students, whose abstracts scored highest in the top-ic-specific ranking lists independent whether they were selected for poster or prof-fered paper presentations. With the Wolfsberg Travel Award, generously sponsored by ESTRO, the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology as well as the organ-izers support the meeting participation of young and highly qualified PhD students who are ESTRO members. The names and the titles of the abstracts of the awardees 2013 are

  • Navita Somaiah, Sutton, United Kingdom (abstract title: Test of association be-tween Ki67 index of early breast cancer and local relapse after adjuvant hypofractionated radiotherapy)
  • Hanneke Stegeman, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, (abstract title: Dasatinib in-hibits DNA repair specifically in pSFK expressing tumor areas in head and neck xenograft tumors)
  • Nathan T. Martin, Los Angeles, USA (abstract title: ATM-dependent MiR-335 targets CtIP and modulates the DNA damage response)
  • Ross Carruthers, Glasgow, United Kingdom (abstract title: Abrogating cancer stem cell radioresistance in glioblastoma via ATM inhibition)
  • Dan Cojocari, Toronto, Canada (abstract title: New small molecule inhibitors of UPR activation demonstrate that PERK, but not IRE1 is essential for promot-ing adaptation and survival to hypoxia)
  • Martin-Immanuel Bittner, Freiburg, Germany (abstract title: Tumour hypoxia in locally advanced head-and-neck tumours during primary chemoradiotherapy in serial 18-F-MISO-PET imaging)

Wolfsberg Cup 2013

Finally, the traditional sports event, in which teams of the four topics compete for the Wolfsberg Cup was certainly the social highlight of the meeting. The organization of this event was given into the magic hands of Ekkehard Dikomey, who did an excel-lent job in arranging kind of a team “quatrothlon”. This event with its four disciplines really challenged the skills of the team members in every aspect of science, i.e. team spirit, team jumping, team tower building, and team strength. No words can ade-quately describe what happened on the sports field of the Conference Center. It must be said that based on their performances any of the four teams would have actually deserved the Wolfsberg Cup 2013. Thus, you have to look into the photo gallery of this year’s meeting to get at least a glance of what was going on. To make a long and amazing story of this fascinating sports event very short, the overall winner was Team Topic IV, which was motivated and pushed just to the point by the team cap-tains Thomas Iftner and Jesper Eriksen. Thus, like in 2011, and for the third time in a row Team Topic IV “Microenvironment” received the famous Wolfsberg Cup. Alt-hough the Wolfsberg Cup is just a regular coffee cup decorated with the Wolfsberg Meeting Series logo and presented to each of the members of the winning team, it is obviously the “must-have” for which every radiobiology lab is willing to fiercely fight for. According to recent rumours circulating in the international scene of radiobiology, some labs obviously decided to change their research focus to microenvironmental aspects in order to have the chance to be on the side of the winners – at least for the Wolfsberg Cup 2015. Yet, future will tell whether this approach is going to work out – as a repair signalling and targeting person I am not so sure about that  ;-) .

H. Peter Rodemann
(for the organizers)