COLOSSUS researchers Dirk Fey of Systems Biology Ireland at University College Dublin (UCD) and Alice O’ Farrell of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) tended a COLOSSUS stand at the Patient Voices in Cancer Research event at UCD on April 11, 2018. The event organizers namely UCD School of Medicine, UCD Conway Institute, Systems Biology Ireland & BREAST-PREDICT, the Irish Cancer Society’s Collaborative Cancer Research Centre, in conjunction with Relay for Life UCD invited cancer survivors and their families to join researchers, healthcare professionals and patient advocates to discuss placing the patient voice at the heart of the cancer research agenda.

At the COLOSSUS exhibit, Dirk demonstrated to attendees how computer simulation might help researchers to understand why some therapies do or do not work for a patient in order to improve personalised patient treatment. In addition, alongside other researchers, patients, carers and patient advocates, he participated in the lively roundtable discussions of ‘Next Generation Sequencing/Sequence Mutations’.

Dirk comments, ‘The Patient Voice in Cancer Research was a great opportunity for patients and researchers to interact and learn from each other. Sometimes it is surprising to see how well-educated patients are. Often patients know a lot about the genetics. The challenge for me is to explain how mathematical modelling and computer simulations can be used to understand cancer and, hopefully, improve patient care. I learn something from every interaction.

One of the highlights was a lecture by Dr Brendan Doyle, Consultant Histopathologist Beaumont Hospital / RCSI, who explained what a pathologist does and how it is used to guide a patients treatment. Also, the interactive workshops were great fun.’