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The OncomineWorld Experience from Behind the Curtain

BACKGROUND:  There is little to no point in saying that we are all living in an unprecedented time, but it is worth reminding ourselves that, while this crisis has disrupted a lot of the activities that we are usually engaged with, things are still happening all around us. The question is to what extent are various operations affected by the crisis and what will happen next?

Recently, to better understand the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on molecular testing for cancer patients, we ran a survey among some of the largest EU and USA cancer centers providing these services. The results clearly reflect 1) the negative impact of the crisis on molecular testing volumes, in the range of -20% on average between the months of February and April; 2) differences in the time window of the crisis impact between the EU and USA, with the EU resuming activities now; 3) the generally positive outlook for Q3 and beyond, both in the EU and USA.

The reasons for this considerable decrease in testing can be identified in a clear disruption of the daily operations in many facilities and laboratories. Genomic profiling for precision oncology clinical research had to slow down or completely pause and, further, there were no scientific conferences or other face-to-face educational events during this period of time in which to share insights and learn from one another.

"With more than 3000 registrations, OncomineWorld features a prestigious floor of outstanding leaders in the field of molecular profiling..."

EXECUTION:  Given all the above mentioned, in order not to lose touch with our collaborators and customers, and to keep them up-to-date regarding our development programs and path forward, this year we organized for the first time a
virtual version of the otherwise well-established OncomineWorld.  With more than 3000 registrations, OncomineWorld featured a prestigious floor of outstanding leaders in the field of molecular profiling and has united people from all over the globe
with the common interest of advancing human health via using NGS.

Over a period of time lasting about 19 hours on May 14th, supported by numerous cups of coffee, I had the pleasure and honor to moderate three live sessions covering a number of aspects related to the implementation of NGS with either small or large panels (Pathmanathan Rajadurai and Ilaria Alborelli), and talks spanning from regulatory and lab accreditation matters (Luke Hesson) to liquid biopsy real
word data discussion and applications (Siew-Kee Low, Jane Bayani and Nicola Normanno).

Meant to be an educational event but also a place to compare practices with others, we asked the speakers to share their experiences regarding everyday challenges along with success stories that they are facing in the lab. Notably, they have also shared the first overwhelmingly positive experiences that their teams are living using the brand new Genexus System (Siew-Kee Low, Micheal Hummel, Philip Jermann and Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson). They also touched upon the increasing value of NGS in hemato-oncology research (Marianne Grantham and Xia Li) and new applications in the field of BCR immune repertoire sequencing (Timothy Looney).

My expectations were projected around substantially advancing my knowledge about NGS applications while looking for stories outside my usual box (with how complex immunology it is, I will never manage to get it right!). The speakers, while giving fantastic presentations, above all shared authentic stories that will definitely help and inspire the attendees to turn around things at their own institutions.

OUTLOOK:  In this blogpost I also want to share that organizing such an event was not an easy task. Endless Video-TCs, the unexpected technical issue always behind the corner, joining Zoom and jumping into Skype and going to WebEx, with children and dogs actively participating in the calls…are just some of the examples of the background characterizing the scene we had to operate in.

But being part of the Thermo Fisher Team that organized the event, above all, Marta Hall, Associate Director Global Market Development Clinical Oncology NGS, now that the job is done, it has allowed me to sit a moment and think that flexibility is what makes us worthy. For the months to come, we will have to make the best out of this virtual “world” we are living in, demonstrating high flexibility in order to accomplish our duties.

Overall, I had a very rewarding day filled with data and science. I hope you also enjoyed this year’s OncomineWorld!

To conclude, I want to thank all participants for taking the time to join us during OncomineWorld. If you missed the live event, you can still take the opportunity to access the on-demand content, including all presentations, virtual exhibits, and posters, for the next 12 months.

Looking forward to shaking your hands again,

Luca Quagliata

OncomineWorld: A virtual NGS education meeting features 13 CE (Continuing Education)-certified presentations about the latest developments in genomic profiling for precision oncology research. Attendees also have the opportunity to see the latest NGS research from Thermo Fisher Scientific in the Poster Hall, explore the interactive virtual laboratories to learn more about the new Ion Torrent Genexus System and Oncomine Solutions, and much more. The event is free to access and will remain on-demand through May, 2021.

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

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Luca Quagliata, Ph.D.
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Luca Quagliata, Ph.D.

Luca Quagliata, PhD, is the global head of medical affairs for clinical NGS and oncology at Thermo Fisher Scientific. He is an adjunct faculty member for the Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Personalized Molecular Oncology at the University of Basel and was previously the lab director at the Institute of Medical Genetics and Pathology at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.

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