2015 cancer biology summer course

18 August 2015

Biologist, Julia Mantaj, attended the 2015 cancer biology summer course, funded by Croucher Foundation, sponsored by American Association of Cancer Research, and hosted by HKU.

Mantaj is a biologist, who is currently completing her PhD at King’s College London.

Mantaj travelled from London to attend this year’s cancer biology course, which took place from 10th- 14th August. The course welcomed 35 participants, from America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and prominent international and local speakers.

Croucher summer courses run every two years, and comprise of five-day residential courses. The courses aim to educate and inspire talented postdoctoral fellows and early career researchers from Hong Kong and overseas. Carefully selected world-renowned international and local speakers conduct seminars and engage in interactive discussions with participants.

This year’s speakers on the cancer biology course included: Professor James Allison, Professor and Chair of Immunology at Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre; Professor Yibin Kang, Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University; Professor Patrick Tan, Professor of Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School; Professor Frederick Alt, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor Scott Lower, Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chairman of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Centre, and Professor at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences; Professor Padmanee Sharma, Professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology at Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre; and Professor Tak Mak, course Director and Chairman of the Croucher Foundation. Read more about the speakers here.

Mantaj feels that this course provided “the perfect opportunity to ask questions you always wanted to… a diverse mix of young and enthusiastic people with the same interest and passion: cancer research”. She enjoyed the opportunity to learn from leading scientists in the field of cancer biology, as well as meet other young scientists in a place where they could speak about their research projects and share ideas.

The course also provided a cultural tour of Hong Kong. Mantaj notes that this was her first time travelling to Asia, and although she was initially nervous about going to a new continent, she has been very impressed by the city- “this city is incredible, impressive and so diverse in terms of culture. I have been travelling a lot and seen many places, but this city has beaten everything.” She returns to London feeling “full of motivation and new energy, thanking everyone who participated to make this week an unforgettable experience”.

Julia Mantaj beside one of the famous lion statues at HSBC Main Building in Central Hong Kong

Mantaj graduated in 2009 with a MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, and is now completing her PhD at King’s College London, studying the interaction of small molecule DNA binding drugs with DNA, using biophysical and biological techniques.