In September two of us attended the annual meeting of the association of dermatooncology (ADO) and the affiliated junior scientist retreat in Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen. This event was an ideal platform to present our PhenoTImE projects to an audience keen to disscuss and to exchange ideas not only with fellow junior scientists but also with experts.
The indisputable highlight of the meeting, however, was the inspiring talk by Nobelprize winner Stefan Hell about his personal experiences in science with all its ups and downs. Afterwards, a small group had the opportunity for a personal conversation with this exceptional and self-ironic scientist. His most important advice left a deep impression: Always do, what brings you joy (“Tue das, was Dir Spaß macht”).
On the 4th and 5th of November, the annual retreat of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science (BIOME) took place in Bonn. As first year PhD students we had the opportunity to present and discuss our PhenoTImE projects in a poster session. We got valuable feedback not only from other PhD students but also from the scientific jurors. In addition, we gained insights into exciting topics like cell plasticity in metastasis, neutrophil extracellular traps, and macrophages from the notable guest speakers PD Dr. Marc Stemmler, Prof. Dr. Arturo Zychlinsky, and Prof. Dr. Christian Pallasch.
On 12th of December, Per Thor Straten, Director of the Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy (CCIT) and Professor at the University of Copenhagen gave a highly stimulating and comprehensive talk about the role of TAM receptors in the tumour microenvironment. These receptor tyrosine kinases are not only expressed on macrophages and T cells but also on cancer cells and are relevant for tissue repair and clearing of apototic cells. Due to their versatile features, the idea of using TAM as drug targets in cancer is obvious. However, as Professor Straten´s work shows, the development of TAM inhibitors should be carried out with caution.
Additionally, the audience learned that in mice exercise leads to an increase of immune cells infiltrating into tumours. A study starting in January 2020 will test whether doing sports is also in humans a cheap tool to improve the efficiency of immunotherapy. No matter what results will come out: physical exercise is good for your health, so go in for sports!