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School of Biotechnology

Irish Association for Cancer Research

NICB Researchers Receive Awards at IACR 2020

This spring, Galway played host to the 56th Annual Meeting of the Irish Association for Cancer Research (IACR); an event which sees cancer researchers and healthcare professionals from across Ireland gather for a weekend of talks, panels and poster sessions on the latest breakthroughs and findings in Irish cancer research.

L-R: Dr Iseult Johnson, Shannon Nelson, and Prof. Amanda McCannThe event also sees the efforts of those who made significant contributions to the IACR’s mission of ‘promoting greater understanding about cancer to ultimately help reduce the burden of cancer’ recognised by way of a number of distinct prize categories across the event.

This year the School of Biotechnology is delighted to report that researchers affiliated with the School were the proud recipients of several awards across the weekend, and as such wish to congratulate Ms. Shannon Nelson and Dr. Neil Conlon (both of the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology) on their award success.  

Shannon (centre in picture), of the Naomi Walsh Cancer Research Group, gave three talks across the event, the first of which saw her share her experiences from her European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) Travel Fellowship in the University of Aarhus, Denmark during the IACR/EACR Early Career Research Symposium and Workshop. This fellowship played a pivotal role in Shannon’s research which she later detailed in her second talk on primary cell line organoids (CLOs) as a novel and alternative 3D cell model for pancreatic cancer as part of the IACR Breakthrough Cancer Research Session.

Shannon went on to receive the Patrick G. Johnston Award for Excellence in Cancer Research Outreach for her lay presentation of her research. She also received two awards from the Association of Irish Floral Artists (AOIFA). These included the IACR AOIFA 2020 Conference Award to fund Shannon’s attendance at the EACR conference, and the IACR AOIFA 2020 Seed-Funding Award of €6000 to enable Shannon to investigate the role of transcription factors in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Neil Conlon, EACR Junior Investigator of the YearNeil (left) arrived at the event with the honour of winning the European Association for Cancer Research Junior Investigator Award. The first recipient of the award from DCU, Neil, a postdoctoral researcher under the mentorship of Dr Denis Collins and Prof John Crown, delivered an overview of his highly innovative research with the Cancer Biotherapeutics Group on the pre-clinical rationale for combining two distinct targeted therapeutics towards treating HER2-positive breast cancer. In the talk, Neil outlined how his data suggest neratinib (a HER2-positive breast cancer treatment) and dasatinib (a treatment for leukaemia) when used in combination in the lab had the ability to prevent the growth of forms of HER2-positive breast cancer that have become refractory to currently prescribed treatment plans. Neil was also a finalist in the Patrick G. Johnston Award for Excellence in Cancer Research Outreach, which allowed him to present this research to a lay audience.  

In addition to Shannon and Neil, DCU was also proudly represented by thirteen additional members of the Faculty of Science and Health at the event. Colleagues from NICB, the School of Psychology, and School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Help, who are also part of the DCU Cancer Research consortium, all participated by way of oral presentations, poster presentations and panel discussions in what was a tremendous representation of DCU at such a keynote event.  

Once again, the School extends their congratulations to both Shannon and Neil on their recent successes. 


Many thanks to Kay McKeon and the IACR for contributing pictures to this article.

15th June, 2020