Global Oncology Leaders Converge as Abu Dhabi Hosts its First WIN Symposium

  • Nobel Laureate Prof. James Allison, whose work has revolutionized cancer immunotherapy, delivered the keynote lecture
  • The global congress of the WIN Consortium brings together top physicians, researchers and scientists in precision oncology from across the world
  • Held in partnership with Burjeel Holdings, the congress is being conducted outside Europe for the first time

ABU DHABI: The WIN Symposium 2024, a landmark event in precision oncology, has officially commenced in Abu Dhabi, marking a significant collaboration between the Worldwide Innovative Network (WIN) Consortium and Burjeel Holdings. This two-day annual global congress of the WIN Consortium brings together over 500 physicians, researchers, and scientists in the field from 30 countries to explore the latest advancements in precision oncology, with the ultimate goal of improving cancer patient care and outcomes worldwide.

Nobel Laureate Presents Latest Research on Immunotherapy

Under the theme ‘Precision and Molecular Oncology: Caring for Patients and Future Generations,’ the congress kicked off with a grand opening featuring 2018 Nobel Laureate, Prof. James Allison, Regental Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA), whose groundbreaking work has revolutionized cancer immunotherapy. In his keynote lecture, Prof. Allison, presented the latest research on how immunotherapy works and the way in which treatments can be improved, tailored and combined so that they are more effective and safe to give to patients with various types of cancer.

On the sidelines of the event, Prof. Allison, said, “We are excited to be here and hear about what is happening in the UAE. We are impressed by the infrastructure being built for the development of patient care and cancer treatment, particularly in precision oncology, genomic medicine, and immunotherapy. The future is already here in terms of collaboration with various groups, including those planning infrastructure and building medical systems in Abu Dhabi, especially in clinical trials and the testing of new drugs.”

The WIN Consortium, a non-profit association headquartered in France, unites 31 world-class academic medical centers, healthcare industries, research organizations, and patient advocacy groups from 18 countries, aligned to launch cancer trials using omic platforms to bolster precision oncology across the world. BMC — Burjeel Medical City, the flagship facility of Burjeel Holdings, is the first and only member from the UAE and GCC. Abu Dhabi was selected as the city to host this year’s congress, marking its inaugural occurrence outside of its traditional European venue.

This decision reflects the international scientific community’s trust in the UAE’s vision and capabilities in advancing precision oncology.

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Asma Al Mannaei, Executive Director, Research and Innovation Center at Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, outlined the DoH’s plans for precision medicine. “The Department of Health is at the forefront of integrating advanced tools and strategies at both clinical and genomic data levels. Our goal is to not just promote precision research and care but to revolutionize it, ensuring that personalized healthcare is not a luxury, but a standard,” said Dr. Asma.

Transforming Cancer Care

Emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts in transforming cancer care, Prof. Wafik El-Deiry, Chair, WIN Consortium, Director, Legorreta Cancer Center, Brown University (USA) said, “Treating patients with cancer without fully understanding established and emerging molecular biomarkers for cancer outcomes can severely limit many aspects of patient care. The global WIN Consortium in cancer personalized medicine is pleased to collaborate with a strong scientific partner such as Burjeel Holdings to bring the premiere annual precision oncology WIN Symposium to Abu Dhabi. The world-class clinical and research faculty including Nobel Laureate James Alison are discussing how biomarkers, technologies and intelligent algorithms are helping patients with advanced cancer access the best life-prolonging treatment combinations and approaches that are transforming cancer care in the field of precision oncology.”

The congress features a meticulously curated program, featuring interactive elements that illustrate the principles and best practices of precision cancer treatment. Key opinion leaders and innovators from prestigious institutions worldwide and major precision diagnostic companies are participating, fostering discussions on the latest advancements in precision medicine.

Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Founder and Chairman, Burjeel Holdings, highlighted the Group’s commitment to cancer care, stating, “We are committed to advancing our understanding of cancer and work towards improving patient care, not only for the current but also for future generations in the UAE and region. The only way for us to do this is through fostering an engaging dialogue between international scholars and innovators and local experts to bridge theory and real-world practice and forge lasting partnerships.”

Comprehensive Sessions

Emphasizing the necessity of individualized patient treatment in the era of precision medicine, Prof. Humaid Al Shamsi, Director of Oncology Services, Burjeel Holdings, said, “We are living in an era when patient treatment must be individualized. The same type of cancer can develop and behave differently in different individuals due to the specific underlying genetic and cellular changes. Today, we are blessed with having several options to target these specific changes but selecting the right therapeutic agent can be complex. We have thus developed a program over two days to tackle every aspect of the journey towards selecting the right drug for the right patient. This will inevitably uplift our standards of practice in the country and reflect on patient outcomes.”

Dr. Khaled Musallam, Group Chief Research Officer, Burjeel Holdings who highlighted the meeting’s goal to connect research with clinical practice, said “Our goal in this meeting was to offer a platform that connects the ‘bench’ with the ‘bedside’ and provide a roadmap for best-practice to the treating clinicians. The longstanding experience of the WIN Consortium as a global reference for research and education on precision oncology and the vision of Burjeel Holdings to bring the standards of cancer care and research to international levels were key ingredients to the recipe for success of this meeting.”

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