Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO

Continuing a strong cancer research network

The 12th CCBIO Annual Symposium has recently taken place, with a program showcasing current cancer biomarker research. This was the final symposium in CCBIO’s 10-year period funded by the Research Council of Norway as a Centre of Excellence (CoE), however not the last. CCBIO will continue its core activities, maintaining what has become a strong cancer research network.

The SAB members and the CCBIO management standing on the stairs outside the Solstrand Hotel.
CCBIO, Ingvild Festervoll Melien. The SAB members and the CCBIO management: Bruce Zetter, Carl-Henrik Heldin, Lars A. Akslen, Line Bjørge, Ate van der Zee and Geir Olav Løken.

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Prior to the symposium, the CCBIO Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) had its final meeting with CCBIO. The SAB members are Professors Carl-Henrik Heldin (chair), Bruce Zetter and Ate van der Zee, all three being internationally leading researchers in CCBIO-relevant fields. 

Important focus on cancer biomarkers

We had a chat with the SAB chair Carl-Henrik Heldin, professor in molecular cell biology at Uppsala University, and former chairman of the Nobel Foundation. Summing up these 10 years with CCBIO, he found that the idea which was the basis for CCBIO was a very fruitful one to explore, and that the center quickly got itself well organized.

“I think the application as such was very timely, because biomarkers are certainly extremely important in cancer diagnosis and prognosis, and treatment,” Heldin explains. “The center focused early on research as well as on bringing together the relevant people in Bergen, also working hard to expand the network in the external staff program – which was done very successfully. They built a network with a lot of excellent scientists in the field. And then they organized a teaching program with very relevant high-quality courses, seminar series and this yearly symposium that we now attend – in all a lot of activities. This was a very good complement to the core research efforts. Altogether this was a very strong center which developed very well over the 10 years. I have had the pleasure to see how it has grown step by step,” Heldin says.

Maintaining and building on a strong network

When considering the future for CCBIO, Heldin emphasized that the University of Bergen should take further steps towards continuation of CCBIO’s core activities, maintaining what has become a strong research environment also deeply engaged in knowledge transfer. 
“I think that if CCBIO gets some support from the university and from the Medical Faculty, to maintain the core in terms of the basic organization, courses, the educational efforts and the outreach activities with the seminars and the meetings, it will be possible to maintain the network. Of course, the individual PIs will be dependent upon external grants for their research activities, but that’s OK. Still, it is important to have at least some basic funding to make it possible to maintain the core. The symposium is a big success, so I think it would be a very good idea to continue it, and I think – from the university perspective – this should have high priority, because through the Centre of Excellence CCBIO, the university gained a lot. It made it possible to develop cancer research here in Bergen in a very fruitful way. And the university should continue to build on what is strong and be helpful in terms of making it possible to continue what has been developed so nicely,” Heldin concludes.

CCBIO 2.0 in the making

“We certainly aim to continue the ‘CCBIO model’ for cancer research – focusing on timely, strong, and novel scientific ideas, on science education and communication, and also on efficient organizational aspects. By doing this we hope to promote and strengthen the science culture at our campus”, says Lars A. Akslen, the CCBIO director during the entire center period. 

“This journey has been exciting and rewarding in so many ways – and it is motivating to bring our activities into the future as CCBIO 2.0,” Akslen concludes.

Hence, you can expect more exciting cancer research to emerge from the CCBIO groups, and keep an eye on the CCBIO calendar for the continuation of our seminars, courses and symposia!