2nd TCGA India – ICGA Conference and Workshop : 2020

During December 3-5, 2020, the 2nd TCGA India Conference and Workshop was organised in online format by Centre for Translational Cancer Research (CTCR, a joint initiative of IISER Pune and Prashanti Cancer Care Mission, Pune), Persistent Systems, TCGA (NCI, NIH, USA) Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)- Institute of Genomics and Integrative, Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK) and DBT-Wellcome Trust India Alliance. The theme of this event was ” Towards Team Science for Multi-omics Cancer Research in South Asia’. Over 1500 delegates from 36 countries attended the event.

Objectives of the conference

Recently, TCGA received the prestigious 2020 American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) ‘Team Science Award.’ Meanwhile, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), GoI has initiated ‘GenomeIndia Project’ aimed at sequencing 10,000 healthy individuals. India is already a  partner in the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), with a special focus on gingivo-buccal cancer. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), GoI has expressed commitment towards establishing Cancer Consortia to generate genomics data on Indian cancer patients. More such initiatives/projects are expected to be rolled out in the coming years from various Governmental and non-Governmental agencies. These positive developments make it imperative that a collaborative structure is needed in India to help share big data for performing meta-analyses on the lines of TCGA. Therefore, based on the consensus between the attendees of the TCGA 2019 conference, the establishment of an ‘Indian Cancer Genomics Atlas (ICGA)’ has been proposed. The 2nd TCGA-themed conference, in collaboration with TCGA and key ICGA stakeholders, deliberated on the vision, design and plans of the ICGA project with regards to common SOPs, operations, logistics and governance models. More importantly, conference sessions were planned around the central theme of building a culture of team science for undertaking mega-cancer research projects in India and neighboring countries. Global experts discussed technical aspects of data/biospecimen/multi-omics studies and applications of Precision Oncology in clinical cancer management.

Pre-conference Hands-on TCGA Workshop (December 3, 2020)

In the preconference workshop, the history, evolution, and technical aspects of the TCGA databases was discussed by domain leaders contributing to the TCGA databases. These sessions were predominantly oriented for participants to learn tools and techniques for TCGA data mining.

TCGA India -ICGA Conference-Day 1 (December 4, 2020)

The conference was inaugurated by Honorable Dr Harshavardhan , Minister of Science and Technology , Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences, Government of India. In his inaugural address, Dr Harshavardhan assured long-term commitment from Government of India for the ICGA project. In addition, keynote lectures were delivered by Prof Shekhar Mande (Director General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India) and Dr Jean Claude Zenklusen (Director, TCGA, USA).

The conference proceedings were mainly focused on global trends in translational cancer research. Major international cancer projects which operate on the theme of ‘Team Science’ were showcased by leaders involved in the management of such high-impact projects. Speakers also discussed the emerging importance of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Cancer Research and its future implications.

TCGA India – ICGA Conference-Day 2 (December 5, 2020)

The main theme of proceedings was the establishment of large-scale cancer genomics projects in South Asia inclusive of the Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA) Project and the Bangladesh Cancer Genome Atlas (BGCP) Project. Key stakeholders in the ICGA project deliberated on various scientific , logistical and bioethical issues associated with operational model of the project. Major sessions were dedicated on the societal impact of the ICGA project and how can the concept of citizen science initiative can be applied to the project deliverables.

Flyer for the conference is available here

Press release is available here

Publication is available here

Conference highlights are available here

Media Coverage