ONCORNET2.0 Final Symposium at VU Amsterdam, 31 August – 1 September 2023

On Thursday 31 August and Friday 1 September the Final Symposium of ONCORNET2.0 took place at the VU. ONCORNET2.0 is an EU-funded MSCA Marie Curie (ITN) project, coordinated by Prof. Martine Smit. For a full auditorium of (mostly) GPCR scientists from around Europe, ONCORNET2.0 early stage researchers (ESRs) and invited speakers gave inspiring lectures on the exciting outcome of their ONCORNET2.0 studies and related work. 

At the end of the symposium coordinator Martine Smit indicated to be very proud of this second cohort of ONCORNET-trained PhD students. “They really have become part of the ONCORNET family. With PhD studies starting in the first COVID lockdown, times have not been easy for this group. However, they did a great job presenting excellent science, clearly showing the network collaborations and trainings, and the added benefits of that. We wish them all the best in finishing their thesis in the coming months/year, and a lot of success in the next steps in their careers.”  

Earlier in the week the group of ESRs received their final training. During a Workshop by Learning by Simulation (LBS), the lengthy and complex drug development process was simulated in 3 days. With the extensive onsite and online training the Marie Curie fellows have received in the last three years, they have become multidisciplinary (GPCR) scientists.   

With the tools (small molecules, nanobodies, biosensor assays) and model systems for the oncogenic chemokine receptor CXCR4 (involved in cancer and metastasis) and the atypical receptor ACKR3 in place, the signaling networks and translational effects can be studied in more detail. More ONCORNET2.0 publications (and PhD defenses) are expected in the upcoming year. Please check out our website www.oncornet.eu regularly for updates. 

Martine Smit (coordinator), Jacqueline van Muijlwijk (educational counsellor) and Ellen Langemeijer (project manager) 


ONCORNET2.0 symposium

Registration for the Final ONCORNET2.0 symposium on Thursday 31 August + Friday 1 September at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is open now (till 30 June). Please check-out the Flyer and Programme for details.

The programme covers the latest research developments on two oncogenic GPCRs; CXCR4 and ACKR3, a classical and atypical chemokine receptor. Within our ITN Marie Curie ONCORNET2.0 network we have been using a multi-faceted, collaborative approach and state-of-the-art technologies to modulate and unravel the role of these oncogenic GPCRs.

Besides a nice line-up of invited speakers (including Tracy Handel, Michel Bouvier, Evi Kostenis, Albert Kooistra, Cristina Sanchez, Paul van Bergen en Henegouwen, Birgit Caspar, Romy Thomas) all 16 ONCORNET2.0 trained young researchers will also present their research. Additionally, there will be 30 posters on display.

What: 1.5-day ONCORNET2.0 Final Symposium in Amsterdam
Where: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: Thursday 31 August 9:00 – 20:00 and Friday morning 1 September, 9:00 – 13:00
Who: All scientists interested in oncogenic GPCR (chemokine receptor) research
Registration (75 €) deadline: 30 June 2023: Registration Form (formdesk.com)

Detailed information can be found in the flyer and Programme. You can register here.

We are looking forward to meeting you in Amsterdam.

Hotel suggestions:
We advice you to make your hotel reservation quickly, as hotel room rates are increasing in Amsterdam end of August. If doable, consider sharing a room, e.g. at XOHotel Couture,  the Olympic Hotel, Citizen M, Qbic, Novotel, Crown Plaza.

Kind regards, 
Prof. Martine Smit, coordinator of MSCA-ITN ONCORNET2.0, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Dr. Ellen Langemeijer, projectmanager of ONCORNET2.0, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (e.v.langemeijer@vu.nl)

Cancer is a major health burden responsible for 20% of European deaths. There is a critical need to understand its fundamental biological mechanisms. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are cell surface proteins which play an important role in regulating cellular functions integral to cancer biology and, as highly druggable proteins, oncogenic GPCRs are important therapeutic targets. ONCORNET2.0 builds on the success of ONCORNET (Oncogenic GPCR Network of Excellence and Training), a first-in-kind ETN in GPCR drug discovery that has successfully delivered scientific advance and training to talented early stage researchers (ESRs). ONCORNET2.0 will incorporate recent scientific and technological advances to understand and target two oncogenic GPCRs; the chemokine receptors CXCR4 and ACKR3 (CXCR7). These are highly expressed in multiple tumours but their role in cancer progression remains poorly understood. We will develop new strategies for CXCR4/ACKR3 modulation (photochemistry, nanobodies) and investigate their effects on oncogenic responses, to yield key new knowledge and potential leads for drug development and commercialisation.

ONCORNET2.0 will bring together the leading GPCR research groups in Europe and 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). By leveraging on the success and experience of ONCORNET and recent ground-breaking advances in the field of GPCRs (e.g. cryo-EM, CRISPR-Cas, advanced microscopy), ONCORNET2.0 brings a young, gender balanced team of PIs to target oncogenic GPCRs. The consortium will offer an extensive multidisciplinary training programme for ESRs ensuring their successful incorporation in today’s fast-moving drug development programmes. This programme integrates both research and transferable skill sets through blended learning. Our aim is that, through training these ESRs with interdisciplinary and intersectoral exposure, we will develop the next generation of scientists with skills that are in high demand by the drug development industries but rarely offered academically.

Figure - G protein-(in)dependent signalling and trafficking by GPCR mono/homo/heteromers in nanodomains

Figure – G protein-(in)dependent signalling and trafficking by GPCR mono/homo/heteromers in nanodomains

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Contact details

Please contact us at:

ONCORNET Coordinator
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam