Testimonials from 2017 Workshop Participants

Previous workshop participants share their experiences

szava-bains-simer-jit

“I decided to join the MCCR Workshop after a warm recommendation from a consultant in my department. I have previous experience from translational and observational research from my PhD and Post.Doc, and I was looking for ways to take my research to the next level in clinical studies. The MCCR Workshop has by far exceeded my expectations in this regards. It gives you the necessary tools, knowledge and experience to execute robust and meaningful clinical trials. However, it does require a lot of work, but it is also incredibly rewarding both at academic and personal level. I would like to emphasise the valuable friendships you make with fellow scientist, and the opportunity to interact with experienced scientist, statisticians and “pick their brains”. I will definitely recommend the MCCR Workshop to other colleagues.”

Simer Jit Száva Bains
Akershus University Hospital, Clinical Oncology, Oslo, Norway

cardone-claudia

“Research is the engine of progress. As young oncologists (YOs), we have to learn how to interpret and how to construct a research study, in order to make the progress happen, improving the outcomes of our patients living with cancer. During our training, it is difficult to learn critical elements of clinical trials design. “Methods In Clinical Cancer Research” is a terrific experience, a must-attend for YOs involved in cancer research. It is a six-day workshop where every hour, even late in the night, is spent to build up your protocol. Frontal lessons, interactive discussions, daily “meet your expert” sessions, constant networking with faculty members and other fellows contribute to your learning, asking yourself the right questions to be addressed in your research protocol. Every aspect of clinical trials methodology is developed and explained throughout the course of the workshop. Every day fellows may count on the full support of their “protocol-developing group”, to discuss methodological issues and to think together out of the box, improving personal skills and, as well, protocol designs. Last but not the least “Methods In Clinical Cancer Research” is a unique opportunity to meet enthusiastic people surrounded by the beauty of nature in Zeist.”

Claudia Cardone
Università degli studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli”, Medical Oncology, Naples, Italy

guimaraes-raquel

“During a one-week stay in Zeist, Amsterdam, I had one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Being at the workshop was like a dream came true, and I felt it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop skills in writing protocols, even though I was aware of the hard work it demanded. As the sole representative of Latin America at this edition, I was really honoured to be among the greatest researchers from different parts of the world. Every lecture seemed to embrace the most relevant topics addressed to young oncologists. Beyond integrating knowledge from assorted centres, it was also a pleasant way to be up to date. By splitting the audience into small groups, interaction was unavoidable. All participants were sharing the aim to get connected. Questions and comments were constantly present as we were provoked to deal with realistic challenging situations. Inevitably, discussions also took place at the coffee break, at lunch and everywhere. People were helping each other to develop their ideas and to find solutions by exchanging experiences. All brilliant presentations with a high level of evidence, in a scenario of remarkable organization, were quite impressive. The use of a voting pad also had its role, as a way to get contribution from every participant, and also a way to have some fun. As we were getting closer to each other, the so called “MCCR team”, naturally had unforgettable moments of great time together, by participating in games and group activities. We laughed a lot, took funny pictures and shared histories. The social event was no different; we all had a delightful moment with tasty dinner and enjoyable drinks, as a group of friends becoming part of family, and also with a feeling of sadness that it was coming close to the end. At this point we were all grateful to have had this immersion, mostly due to the superlative qualifications of the staff. I would like to encourage young oncologists, especially those who live far from Europe, to join the team. I would also like to thank the organizers, directors and all staff members for their contribution in inspiring my career. Hope to see you soon.”

Raquel Guimaraes
Instituto Nacional do Câncer, Radiation Oncology, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

eberst-lauriane

“I am a young oncologist from Lyon, France. I have been interested in Clinical Research since the beginning of my residency, and wanted to develop a clinical trial for rare cancers of the anogenital tract. I went to the MCCR Workshop with an idea of trial, a biological and clinical rationale, and support from my mentor. During the workshop, I had the opportunity to discuss this project with other fellows, faculty members, and to meet experts in the field of rare tumours, immunotherapy, and statistics. This week spent in Zeist was unique: I progressed a lot, and went back home with an almost fully written protocol. In other words, I came with an idea, and left with a solid and concrete project. It is only the “end of the beginning”, there is still work to do, but this week in Zeist gave me huge motivation to develop this project. If everything goes on well, the first patients should enrol in “my own trial” in 12-18 months. I would encourage every young oncologist interested in clinical research to attend the MCCR workshop! And I thank ESMO for giving us the opportunity to attend such exceptional courses!”

Lauriane Eberst
Centre Léon Bérard, Early phase trials, Lyon, France

fischer-stefanie

“The MCCR Workshop is the greatest learning experience I have ever had. Beforehand, my colleagues who already attended the MCCR Workshop told me many things, but you will not be able to imagine the atmosphere until you attended yourself. You learn a lot during the lectures, PDG and meet the expert sessions, and benefit from an extraordinary faculty sharing their broad expertise in cancer research. The addition of constant scientific exchange and discussions, even during coffee breaks and late at night, contribute to such a motivating and constructive atmosphere, which I was not able to imagine. In your personal development, all this creates a shift from being a rather passive participant in clinical trials towards an active and innovative researcher. I strongly encourage every physician involved in clinical cancer research to participate in this Workshop!”

Stefanie Fischer
Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, Medical Oncology, St. Gallen, Switzerland

hendriks-lizza

“Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research is really the best workshop I have ever attended. This Workshop combines varied educational formats that all serve their purpose. The faculty do their utmost best to provide good inspiring educational lectures, and they are enthusiastic and easy to approach during meet your expert sessions or when you are working on your protocol. It is great that they make time in their busy schedule to educate a group of young professionals. The lectures cover every topic from phase I to III trials, translational research, ethics, statistics and logistics. Small group discussions and PDGs help you in focussing on how to optimise the design of your own trial and to learn from discussions on other trials. It also gives you the idea how the field of cancer medicine is evolving. The statisticians all do a fantastic job in making young fellows understand the basics of statistics trial development. After these lectures and discussions, I now really understand the basis of clinical trial protocol development and implementation. I arrived with an outline and went home with a protocol that is almost ready for regulatory review. I networked and made friends with fellow junior colleagues working in different fields of oncology, all in peaceful surroundings with excellent support and catering. These contacts will undoubtedly be valuable in the future. It is an intense workshop but it is one of the rare opportunities to focus on your own project without external distractions. I am very grateful that ESMO has supported this Workshop and I would recommend it to all young colleagues with in interest in building a career in oncology.”

Lizza Hendriks
Maastricht UMC+, Respiratory Diseases, Maastricht, The Netherlands

kozak-katarzyna

“I want to thank ESMO for giving me the opportunity to participate in the ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research by supporting me with a fellowship grant. The MCCR Workshop is definitely the best workshop that I have ever attended. The Workshop provides the necessary tools one needs to conduct clinical trials that yield clear results and have the potential to impact patient care. The knowledge I gained at the MCCR Workshop changed my view on how to conduct research in oncology. The open dialogue and constructive criticism during daily meetings in small protocol development groups allowed me to develop a clinically feasible protocol that was constructed to effectively test my trial hypothesis. I have learnt a lot from other participants' protocols as our faculties encouraged us to contribute suggestions and comments when other fellows presented their proposals. One on one "meet the experts" sessions were extremely inspiring and gave me the opportunity to exchange ideas with the elite workshop faculty. All faculty members were available during day and night and were genuinely interested in our ideas and willing to help us with developing protocols. I had a unique opportunity to work with excellent biostatisticians who helped me to define sample size, which involves several factors that influence the size of the study, timelines, and budget requirements. Additionally, lectures on the methodology of phase I-III clinical trials, including statistics, pharmacology, biomarkers, and adaptive trial designs were comprehensive, well organised and highly educational. Overall, the MCCR Workshop greatly exceeded my expectations. I was surprised by how much I was able to accomplish in such a short time. By the end of the week, my draft matured to a fully written protocol. Moreover, I appreciated the interactive workshop atmosphere and met many bright, ambitious and enthusiastic fellows from all over the world. I would strongly recommend the MCCR Workshop to any colleague that is interested in clinical cancer research.”

Katarzyna Kozak
Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute - Oncology Center, Medical Oncology, Warsaw, Poland

lalani-aly-khan

“The 2017 Methods in Clinical Cancer Research (MCCR) Workshop was an intensive and productive experience in protocol development. On arrival in the Netherlands, it was clear that my fellow colleagues were all similarly high-energy, enthusiastic, like-minded individuals who were keen young investigators. This energy was infectious and palpable throughout the week. In Zeist, we were met by world-class preceptors in clinical trial design who took a detailed interest in our protocol proposals. The MCCR Workshop provided an invaluable and rare opportunity to receive close guidance from these mentors and sage, experienced statisticians – all of whom were generous with their time and experience. I distinctly recall the statistician from our protocol development group (PDG) offering additional “office hours” to meet her (even late into the night) to further develop granular statistical considerations. Beyond each participant’s protocol, the Workshop had a full schedule of high-yield didactic lectures and small group sessions that were extremely helpful and germane for the future clinical trialist. The location and facilities in Zeist were comfortable and allowed for a well-balanced, busy week. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Workshop and will cherish and develop the bonds made with my fellow participants and mentors. Ultimately, I see myself as a young investigator who yearns for complexity, proceeds with simplicity, and balances head and heart. I highly recommend the Workshop as a fertile ground for developing one’s interest in, and planting the seeds for, a career in clinical trial design.”

Aly-Khan Lalani
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Medical Oncology, Boston, USA

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“I applied for the 19th MCCR workshop based on strong recommendations from seniors who have attended previous editions of this workshop, and having now attended the workshop myself, the experience has far exceeded what I thought I would bring home. As an aspiring clinician scientist, it is my firm belief that a strong foundation needs to be built in clinical research methodology in order to carry out meaningful research. Having spent a year in the Drug Development Unit in the Royal Marsden Hospital, I had first hand experience of how a well written protocol can help to facilitate the clinical trial, and it was my aim to learn these skills during the MCCR workshop. The week spent at the MCCR workshop was one of the most fulfilling and enriching weeks in my career as a clinical fellow in medical oncology. I was astounded by the enthusiasm of the clinical faculty, who went far beyond their role as teachers to guide us on how to seek the right hypotheses, plan a protocol that will answer specific questions, and to ensure that our trial can adequately verify or disprove the hypotheses at the end of the day. The ability to constantly interact with like-minded colleagues who shared the same interests allowed for deep exchange of ideas and further spurred us in improving and refining our trials. At the end of the week, I’ve picked up many important skills in protocol writing, and hopefully went home with a good protocol for the clinical trial. More importantly, I’ve formed friendships that I hope will last a long time after the conclusion of the workshop, and I’m determined to share this knowledge that our faculty has so generously shared with us during this period of time, and to pass it forward to our juniors to encourage more doctors to participate in research. I am deeply indebted to ESMO for the opportunity to attend this wonderful workshop, and hope to contribute back in any capacity.”

Joline Lim
Royal Marsden Hospital, Drug Development, Breast oncology, London, UK

matikas-alexios

“When I started working at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm 1 year ago, one of the first things my mentor (and also a Flims alumni) associate professor Theo Foukakis told me was to apply for the MCCR Workshop, both for the acquired knowledge, insights and skill in terms of clinical trial design and protocol development, but also for the opportunity for networking and, most definitely, for a lifetime experience. One of the first things I noticed in MCCR Workshop was the high level of the participating fellows (I would expect nothing else from the esteemed faculty). Being surrounded by talented fellows, with clear ideas and an ambition to succeed, armed with an inquiring mind and an understanding of the strengths and limitations young researchers at our level have, was most certainly beneficial and deeply influential. On the other hand, the program itself with the lectures, small group and one on one discussions was intensive, at times intense, but overall a rewarding and humbling experience. The unlimited access to giants in the field of cancer clinical trials is fundamental in this workshop and its importance cannot be overstated. All in all, I would absolutely recommend the MCCR Workshop to any young researcher interested in a research-driven career pathway, as an almost mandatory rite of passage. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank ESMO, the European Society for Medical Oncology. Not only for the honour of naming me as its ambassador during the 19th MCCR Workshop, but also because its support through the 2016-2017 Georges Mathé translational research scholarship has made it possible for me to pursue a career in research while working in a prestigious academic centre.”

Alexios Matikas
Karolinska Institutet, Medical Oncology, Stockholm, Sweden

punie-kevin

“I am very thankful for the opportunity I had to attend the 2017 ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research in Zeist, The Netherlands.
My application became achievable with the support of my mentor Prof. Dr. Hans Wildiers and my head of department Prof. Dr. Patrick Schöffski. I was very happy the moment I received the news of the acceptation. Shortly thereafter, I was selected by ESMO as a Society Grant Ambassador, which is a great honour. During the six days of the workshop, I was immersed in an inspiring environment packed with experts in all different fields of oncology research. All three highly experienced faculty members of my protocol development group (Prof. Dr. Nadia Harbeck, Dr. François-Clement Bidard and Dr. Corneel Coens) were very dedicated to dig day and night into the protocols of the peers in our PDG. They constructively analyzed the preliminary objectives, statistical designs and assumptions, patient selection criteria and feasibility issues with a precise scientific and pragmatic scope. The structure of these sessions was set up in a way we had to participate in the protocol evaluation and development process of our peers. This led to significant cross-pollination in our PDG, which I appreciated as an important added value to the Workshop. The possibility of the one-on-one Meet The Expert-sessions with the other Faculty members, as well as the interaction with the Faculty members and peers outside the sessions, were also extremely valuable, not only for the protocol development but also for possible future collaboration opportunities. The excellent organisation, quiet accommodation and the quality of the continuous nutritional support were facilitating for getting the maximum out of these precious 6 days. I not only can confirm but also even have to reinforce the high expectations I had of the MCCR workshop before joining through the similar experiences of my colleagues who also had this privilege to attend this unique workshop and become member of the Flims-alumni. ”

Kevin Punie
University Hospitals Leuven, General Medical Oncology, Multidisciplinary Breast Center, Leuven, Belgium

silva-jose

“I found out about the MCCR Workshop through colleagues that had participated in earlier editions. Although expectations were already quite high I must confess they were exceeded. The working pace is quite high and demanding. Indeed, it was perhaps one of the most exhausting weeks I’ve had. However, even though one often has to change initial protocol plans, in the end it was one of the best workshops I’ve had the pleasure of participating in. Faculty members are tireless in their effort to really make your protocol bullet-proof with the aim of translating all the effort into something that will be clinically and scientifically meaningful. In addition, faculty members take the opportunity to shed light into some of the most complicated clinical trial topics, both in lectures as well as in small group discussions and one-on-one interactions. Students develop a strong of connection, reflected in the way that synergies are created. In the end, tiring as it is, there is definitely a sense that some of the lessons one learned during the MCCR Workshop will live on for a long time. I would like to thank students, organisers and members of faculty alike for that fabulous week. I would also like to thank ESMO for enabling me to be a part of this team. ”

José Silva
Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa Francisco Gentil EPE, Medical Oncology, Lisbon, Portugal

vasileva-slaveva-mariela

“Methods in Clinical Cancer Research (MCCR) workshop was unique experience for me. First of all this workshop really changed my protocol in a way that it is much more feasible, meaningful and practice changing. It was amazing learning opportunity, which I never thought I will have. There I met people, who truly wanted to help me to develop my protocol on a very high level. They were extremely well-intentioned and sincerely wanted to teach me. Secondly all participants - the fellows, the faculty and the organizers were extremely professional. The environment was perfect for work. I came home much more confident in my protocol, very enthusiastic about clinical trials development and my particular role in this field. Now, I have many new friends and expanded professional network, which I couldn't imagine before. Finally I came home exhausted because it was hard to follow all the lectures and discussions, but happy and enthusiastic.”

Mariela Vasileva-Slaveva
Alexandrovska University Hospital, Surgical oncology, Sofa, Bulgaria

vieito-villar-maria

“Even after years of hearing about this workshop from my mentors and co-workers, nothing could have prepared me for the actual experience of joining other 80 young oncologists and more than 35 faculty members, chosen among the most promising, most dedicated and most energetic of the oncology community.
The result is an exhilarating experience full of masterful theoretical presentations in every topic from pharmacokinetics and preclinical biomarkers to ethical issues and pragmatic phase III trials, energetic debates about how personalized medicine is changing clinical research and by extension how cancer care will change in the next decades if not years, and animated group discussions where we had the opportunity to learn from our tutors and our teammates.
Of course some frustration was inevitable and in the evenings we came back to our rooms or even more frequently to the common areas, and we worked into our protocols well into the night, reworking our initial proposal multiple times, incorporating suggestions, and overcoming problems that we could not even understand days before. (An incredible amount of networking happened initially over a cup of coffee at half past 1 in the morning!).
But the shared hardships (and the group activity, and the dinners, and the breakfasts..), creates a sense of community, of going from individuals isolated by our unusual interest in clinical trials to become a community of peers willing to design and to be the future of clinical trials.
This workshop has exceeded my expectations, and as one of many ESMO members participating in this workshop and on behalf of all ESMO members, I want to thank ESMO for its collaboration in making it possible.”

María Vieito Villar
Vall D’Hebron, Medical Oncology, Barcelona, Spain