Urbana, Ill. – On Sept. 17, the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) and the Microbial Systems Initiative (MSI) held the Cancer and Microbes Workshop as part of a new partnership formed between the CCIL and the MSI to promote collaboration at the interface of microbial sciences and cancer research. Led by Sayee Anakk, Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Shannon Sirk, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Director of the MSI, the “Cancer and Microbes” strategic initiative will be a part of the CCIL Cancer Discovery Platforms Bridging the Engineering-Biology Continuum (CDP) Program.

The event aimed to connect researchers with a wide range of expertise and define research goals within the areas of Cancer and Microbes. Eighteen faculty from twelve departments, representing diverse fields, ranging from physiology and cellular biology to computer science and statistics, were in attendance. The one-day workshop began with group introductions in the format of lightning talks followed by roundtable discussions, providing opportunities to identify areas of synergy and potential collaborative partners on campus. Discussion focused on topics such as antibody engineering, host-microbe interactions, computational modeling of microbial communities and cancer immunotherapy.

From this interactive workshop, the CCIL and MSI will develop a vision to encompass the fundamental ideas generated by participants and build upon this foundation to foster creative and interdisciplinary approaches to diagnose and treat cancer. The Cancer and Microbes initiative will promote the continued development of collaborations established at the event through an online directory providing information on research topics and areas of expertise, regular meetings and seed funding to support new projects that will stimulate future multi-PI funding awards in Cancer and Microbes. If interested, contact Maggie Berg (MSI) or Margaret Browne Huntt (CCIL) for more information.

Written by Blake Morrow, IHSI

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