The EU aims to advance research and innovation throughout Europe by unlocking its full potential. Countries with low participation rates in EU projects are stimulated to widen their participation, for example through Horizon Europe Twinning Projects. The Netherlands Cancer Institute is a leading comprehensive cancer center in Europe; by exchanging knowledge and expertise across borders, supported by the EU, we can train and educate cancer researchers in less well-organized European institutes to build better research infrastructures.
Remond Fijneman is NKI’s principal investigator in the STEPUPIORS Twinning Project led by Milena Cavic. He collaborates with Milena and her team from the Institute of Oncology and Radiology in Serbia (IORS) in profiling the response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancer. "Personally, a few years ago, I would not have expected that I would get involved in educational research-enabling activities in Serbia. However, following an invited lecture on the clinical applicability of circulating tumor DNA during a TRANSCOLOCAN COST action meeting in Bucharest in 2021, I got in contact with Milena. She had collected a large series of blood samples from patients with rectal cancer and was looking for opportunities to perform ctDNA analyses.”
“Based on common research interests, a collaboration was born. Milena - who was working at an institute that trains many cancer researchers while lacking a solid biobanking infrastructure, a project management office, and opportunities for career development - turned out to be a driving force in improving research infrastructures at her institute. She successfully applied for an EU twinning grant and now leads the STEPUPIORS project, partnering with the NKI.”
In February 2023, the NKI was visited by the IORS team to exchange knowledge about biobanking and project grant management. The same team also visited several research facilities and the Department of Radiotherapy. The high motivation of the visitors to learn from best practices in our institute felt rewarding to the many colleagues who contributed their time to this event.