In the ICGA project , significant energy and resources will be invested in bringing the small centers at par with large centers by providing continual training in data collection, tissue procurement, handling and shipping to the central laboratory. The importance of data collection and de-identification will be emphasized in training sessions, which will be undertaken in collaboration with pan-India partners.
As all the experimentation and data will be indigenously generated, the project will provide ample opportunities for career development of young scientists and clinicians. In this regard, one of the major emphasis of the project management team will be to conduct regular training workshops across the country for multi-omics cancer research for capacity building of next generation of cancer scientists.
1st TCGA Conference and Workshop in 2019
During September 20-25, 2019, Prashanti Cancer Care Mission, IISER Pune, and Persistent Systems organized the first ever TCGA themed conference in India titled "Multi-omics Profiling of Cancers: Lessons from the TCGA".
Dr. Jean Claude Zenklusen (TCGA) lead a team of NCI-TCGA domain experts who served as conference faculty in addition to reputed cancer researchers from India and abroad. Over 350 delegates comprising onco-clinicians, basic researchers, bioinformaticians, geneticists, translational researchers, big data scientists, bioethicists and regulatory experts attended the event (http://tcga.ctcr.in).
The major theme of the scientific proceedings was understanding the impact of TCGA project on translational cancer research alongwith latest trends in the field. In their keynote addresses, Dr. Shekhar Mande (DG-CSIR, GoI) and Dr. Renu Swaroop (Secretary, DBT, GoI) highlighted the need for translational cancer research in the Indian context for identifying molecular profiles of Indian cancers considering the increasing cancer burden, unique clinico-pathological profiles and intrinsic population diversity. A consensus emerged between all faculty members and attendees that multi-omics profiling of Indian cancers represents an unmet medical need. Hence, an Indian national cancer research project, themed on the TCGA model was deemed timely and pertinent.
During December 3-5, 2020, the 2nd TCGA 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.
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 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 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.