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CANCER PROMOTION: understanding cancer promotion to inform prevention

3 Jun 24
- 5 Jun 24

The cancer research community is on the verge of a major leap in our understanding of the factors that contribute to human cancer risk. While it is clear that mutations in DNA, either spontaneous or environmentally induced, are essential for cancer development, recent advances have highlighted the importance of non-mutagenic factors as rate-limiting determinants of  cancer risk in human populations and in mouse cancer models. The root causes of human cancer have been widely debated, but most of the emphasis has been on the origins of the “driver” mutations that are ubiquitous in human tumours. Although epidemiology studies have highlighted the possible roles of lifestyle factors such as obesity, alcohol consumption and poor diet in cancer  risk, it has generally been assumed that these act directly or indirectly to cause mutations in  DNA, thus contributing to tumour mutational burden resulting in increased cancer risk. In contrast, recent sequencing studies have uncovered abundant mutations in normal human tissues,  suggesting that even strong cancer driver mutations are not sufficient for cancer formation. These results were presaged by studies of mouse tumour models, some carried out more than 70  years ago, showing that promotion is the rate-limiting step in tumour development.

The promoter hypothesis postulates that cells that acquire mutations through exposure to  exogenous or endogenous mutagenic factors accumulate cancer-driving mutations while maintaining normal tissue homeostasis. After exposure to a ‘promoting’ stimulus, such as chronic wounding, these ‘initiated’ cells, through an unknown mechanism, gain a selective advantage allowing them to undergo  clonal expansion and progress to malignancy.

This 41st edition of Biomed conference will provide an interdisciplinary forum for researchers interested in the principles of cancer promotion and in their implications for understanding tumor initiation and informed prevention. The conference will also showcase novel technologies to study clonal expansion in human normal tissues, promotion studies in organoids and model systems, and functional screens to reveal the mechanisms of promotion.


• Epidemiology, risk factors and cancer prevention

• Molecular mechanisms of cancer promotion

• Clonal expansions in normal tissues

• Modeling cancer promotion and prevention in organoids and model systems



Conference organizers


Dr. Núria López-Bigas
IRB Barcelona/ICREA
Barcelona, Spain

Dr. Allan Balmain

Dr. Allan Balmain
San Francisco,

Dr. Paul Brennan

Dr. Paul Brennan
Lyon, France


There is no registration fee for this conference, but the number of participants is limited, with a number of seats saved for IRB Barcelona alumni. Previous registration is required.

Priority will be given to those who submit the highest quality abstracts for short talks or posters and the order of registration will be considered. 

Abstracts should include a title, authors, affiliations, summary (max 250 words) and references

Fechas importantes


(Note: Any issue about the registration or abstract, please contact:


Monday, 3 June

8.30 Registration

9.00 Welcome by Dr. Francesc Posas (IRB Barcelona, Director)

and organizers (Dr. Núria López-Bigas, Dr. Allan Balmain, Dr. Paul Brennan)


Session I: Epidemiology, risk factors and cancer prevention

Chair: Dr. James DeGregori, University of Colorado (Denver, CO, USA)

Co-Chair: Raquel Blanco, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

9.15 Tracing the origins and evolution of cancers induced by environmental  carcinogens

Dr. Allan Balmain, UCSF (San Francisco, CA, USA)

9.50 The Promoter Hypothesis: A Long View from the History and Philosophy of  Science

Dr. Anya Plutynski, Washington University (St. Louis, MO, USA) 

10.25 Short talk 1: Obesity, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer: revisiting epidemiological causality

Dr. Núria Malats, CNIO (Madrid, Spain)


10.40-11.15 Coffee break and poster session


11.15 Can we identify ubiquitous causes of cancer?

Dr. George Davey-Smith, Bristol University (Bristol, UK)

11.50 Short talk 2: Dissecting the contribution of circulating proteins to multiple myeloma risk: a Mendelian randomization study

Dr. Lucy J. Goudswaard, University of Bristol (Bristol, UK)

12.05 Short talk 3: Early-life tobacco smoke exposure is associated with off-target RAG-mediated deletions in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Dr. Adam J. de Smith, USC (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

12.20 The mutagenic and promotional effect of known and suspected risk factors across multiple cancer sites – Emerging results from Mutographs

Dr. Paul Brennan, IARC (Lyon, France)


12.55-14.00 Lunch and poster session


Session II: Clonal expansions in normal tissues

Chair: Dr. Dan Landau, NY Genome Center (New York, NY, USA)

Co-Chair: Saumya Bollam, UCSF (San Francisco, CA, USA)

14.00 Somatic mutations, clonal expansions, and cancer risk

Dr. Rosana Risques, UW Medicine (Seattle, WA, USA)

14.35 Comparative two-stage chemical carcinogenesis in the skin: from mouse, to naked mole-rat and Ansell’s mole-rat

Dr. Angela Goncalves, DKFZ (Heidelberg, Germany)

15.10 Positive selection and mutation dynamics in normal reproductive tissue

Dr. Raheleh Rahbari, Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)


15.45-16.15 Coffee break and poster session


16.15 Short talk 4: Timing the origin, early diversification and evolution of Richter transformation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Ian Márquez-López, FRCB-IDIBAPS (Barcelona, Spain)

16.30 Short talk 5: Quantitative genetic and epigenetic lineage tracing of blood in the decades preceding AML diagnosis

Dr. Jamie Blundell, Early Cancer Institute, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)

16.45 Clonal selection in normal tissues shaped by cancer promoters

Dr. Núria López-Bigas, IRB Barcelona/ ICREA (Barcelona, Spain)

17.20 End of session



Tuesday, 4 June

Session III: Clonal hematopoiesis

Chair: Dr. Rosana Risques, UW Medicine (Seattle, WA, USA)

Co-Chair: Dr. Santiago Demajo, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

9.00 Inherited and environmental modifiers of clonal hematopoiesis fitness

Dr. Kelly Bolton, Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO, USA)

9.35 Stem cell memories as drivers of cancer heterogeneity

Dr. Alejo Rodriguez-Fraticelli, IRB Barcelona/ ICREA (Barcelona, Spain)


10.10-10.40 Coffee break and poster session


10.40 Somatic evolution of blood during ageing and disease

Dr. Jyoti Nangalia, Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)

11.15 Short talk 6: Studying PIK3CA cancer-associated mutations in congenital disorders

Dr. Mariona Graupera, Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (Barcelona, Spain)

11.30 Short talk 7: Investigating clonal haematopoiesis using a novel single cell multi-omic approach

Dr. Laura Mincarelli, Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)

11.45 Tumor-infiltrating clonal hematopoiesis in non-small cell lung cancer

Dr. Elsa Bernard, Gustave Roussy (Villejuif, France)


12.20-13.20 Lunch and poster session


Session IV: Molecular mechanisms of cancer promotion

Chair: Dr. Kamila Naxerova, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA)

Co-Chair: Dr. Rocio Chamorro, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

13.20 Environmental challenge rewires functional connections among human genes

Dr. Luke Gilbert, Arc Institute (San Francisco, CA, USA)

13.55 Mapping phenotypes and lineage history in human somatic evolution with single-cell multi-omics

Dr. Dan Landau, NY Genome Center (New York, NY, USA)

14.30 Short talk 8: Understanding the causes of head and neck cancer using mutational signature analysis

Dr. Laura Torrens, IARC/WHO (Lyon, France)

14.45 Epigenetic co-option of epithelial-immune crosstalk promotes pancreatic tumorigenesis

Dr. Direna Alonso-Curbelo, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) 


15.20-16.00 Coffee break and poster session


16.00 Somatic evolution of the hematopoietic system in health and disease

Dr. Kamila Naxerova, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA)

16.35 Short talk 9: Uncovering Global Exogenous Mutagenic Exposures

Dr. Aida Ferreiro-Iglesias, IARC/WHO (Lyon, France)

16.50 The neuronal RNA-binding protein is a master regulator of the tumor microenvironment that promotes malignant progression and immune evasion

Dr. Douglas Hanahan, EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland)

17.25 Exploring evolutionary contingencies and constraints by rewinding the tape of malignant transformation

Dr. Samra Turajlic, The Francis Crick Institute (London, UK)


18.00 End of session


20.30 Speakers dinner (Restaurant Can Pineda) (Sant Joan de Malta, 55)



Wednesday, 5 June

9.00 Major late-acting determinants of human cancer: endocrine treatments, and smoking cessation

Keynote: Prof. Sir. Richard Peto, University of Oxford (Oxford, UK)

Chair: Dr. Paul Brennan, IARC (Lyon, France)


Session V: Modeling cancer promotion and prevention in organoids and model Systems

Chair: Dr. Allan Balmain, UCSF (San Francisco, CA, USA)

Co-Chair: Maria Guarini, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)


9.35 Short talk 10: Species-specific role of RAS in Malignant Transformation

Dr. Nikhil Gupta, UTU (Turku, Finland)

9.50 Short talk 11: A robust ex vivo system to study cellular dynamics and development of human pulmonary NE cells

Noah Candeli, EMBL (Barcelona, Spain)

10.05 Metabolic disorders promote oncogenic mutant expansion in normal 

Dr. Phil Jones, Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)


10.40-11.20 Coffee break and poster session


11.20 Somatic Evolution, Cancer, and Our Inevitable Decline with Age-Inextricably Linked

Dr. James DeGregori, University of Colorado (Denver, CO, USA)

11.55 Short talk 12: Estimating mutation risks conferred by mutational processes in cancer genomes

Dr. Axel Rosendahl Huber, IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

12.10 Short talk 13: Somatic evolution and treatment mutagenesis

Dr. Oriol Pich, The Francis Crick Institute (London, UK)

12.25 Organoid models of the tumor immune microenvironment

Dr. Calvin Kuo, Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, CA, USA)


13.00 Concluding remarks and end of conference


The BARCELONA BIOMED CONFERENCE CANCER PROMOTION: understanding cancer promotion to inform prevention will be placed at the Casa Convalescència in the heart of Barcelona. Talks will take place in the Aula Magna.

Casa Convalescència
C/ Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 171
08041 Barcelona

Tel +34 934 335 000



How to reach the Casa Convalescència:

Yellow line (L4) - GUINARDÓ – HOSPITAL DE SANT PAU station
Blue line (L5) - SANT PAU – DOS DE MAIG station

By bus
Lines: 15, 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 92 and 192.

For the GPS
Introduce the following coordinates:
Latitude: 41.413702 (41° 24' 49.33'' N)
Longitude: 2.177482 (2° 10' 38.94'' E)

From the airport

* Train + Underground. At the RENFE station, take the train to Sants-Estació. Once there take the Underground's blue line (L5) till SANT PAU – DOS DE MAIG station.
* Bus + Underground. Outside the airport terminal, take the AEROBUS to Plaça Catalunya. Walk one corner till Plaça Urquinaona and take the Underground's yellow line (L4) to GUINARDÓ – HOSPITAL DE SANT PAU station.

Barcelona Metropolitan Transport webiste (with metro and bus maps)



Speakers will be lodged at the Hotel Catalonia Sagrada Familia
Aragó 577- 579
08026, Barcelona
Telephone: +34 93 245 89 05

Other hotels
A list of additional hotels within walking distance of the Casa Convalescència can be found at:
(The Casa Convalescència is located near the violet point 27/3 star). Rates will vary depending on choice of hotel and season. Please check with the hotel of your choice directly for the best offer.

Another possibility is the Lesseps Residence Hall, and is available for short-term stays.

Lesseps Residence Hall
Plaza Lesseps, 12 08023 Barcelona
View on map
Telephone: +34 933 941 600

Participants registered for events in the Barcelona BioMed series should contact the hotels and residences directly to arrange bookings and payment.


Dr. Direna Alonso-Curbelo

Dr. Direna Alonso-Curbelo
IRB Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

Dr. Elsa Bernard

Dr. Elsa Bernard
Gustave Roussy (Villejuif, France)

Dr. Kelly Bolton

Dr. Kelly Bolton
Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO, USA)

Dr. George Davey-Smith

Dr. George Davey-Smith
Bristol University (Bristol, UK)

Dr. James DeGregori

Dr. James DeGregori University of Colorado (Denver, CO, USA)

Dr. Luke Gilbert

Dr. Luke Gilbert
Arc Institute (San Francisco, CA, USA)

​​​​​​​Dr. Angela Goncalves

Dr. Angela Goncalves
DKFZ (Heidelberg, Germany)

Dr. Douglas Hanahann

Dr. Douglas Hanahan
EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland)

Dr. Phil Jones

Dr. Phil Jones Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)

Dr. Calvin Kuo

Dr. Calvin Kuo
Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, CA, USA)

Dr. Dan Landau

Dr. Dan Landau NY Genome Center (New York, NY, USA)

Dr. Jyoti Nangalia

Dr. Jyoti Nangalia
Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)

Dr. Kamila Naxerova

Dr. Kamila Naxerova
Harvard University (CA, MA, USA)

Dr. Richard Peto

Dr. Richard Peto
University of Oxford (Oxford, UK)

Dr. Anya Plutynski

Dr. Anya Plutynski
Washington University (St. Louis, MO, USA)

Dr. Raheleh Rahbari

Dr. Raheleh Rahbari
Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK)

Dr. Rosana Risques

Dr. Rosana Risques
UW Medicine (Seattle, WA, USA)

Dr. Alejo Rodriguez-Fraticelli

Dr. Alejo Rodriguez-Fraticelli
IRB Barcelona/ ICREA (Barcelona, Spain)

Dr. Samra Turajlic

Dr. Samra Turajlic
The Francis Crick Institute (London, UK)



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