The future of Oncode Institute

To finish this special edition of our magazine, we’d like to give the floor to Carla van Gils, Director of KWF Dutch Cancer Society and René Kuijten, one of the founders of Oncode Institute and Head of EQT Life Sciences. How do they see the future of Oncode Institute?

Carla van Gils

Director of KWF Dutch Cancer Society

René Kuijten

Co-founder of Oncode Institute,

Head of EQT Life Sciences

The best cancer researchers and a first-class valorisation team

Why was it important to create an institute like Oncode?

René: “The reason we launched Oncode Institute is the fact that there is a lot of top notch oncology research in the Netherlands, but this isn’t followed up with much economic activity. Our question was - how can we improve this and make sure that breakthrough research results actually lead to new treatments for cancer patients? Led by the example of the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), we built an institute focused on oncology and brought together the best cancer researchers and a first-class valorisation team. This has been the starting base of Oncode Institute.”

Carla: “KWF has been involved with Oncode Institute since the start. KWF is a proud supporter of Oncode because we find Oncode’s goal to translate fundamental research results quicker to the clinic very important. Because of the unique way that Oncode operates, the process of moving fundamental findings to impact for patients takes significantly shorter. This is a huge improvement for cancer patients and something KWF finds very important.”

How do you look back at the first years of Oncode?

Carla: “I’m impressed by the unique community that has been formed, where all kinds of collaborations have started, that wouldn’t have existed without Oncode. Top researchers from different labs and institutes started working with each other in these five years. They also have more opportunities to meet and collaborate with clinicians, industry partners and patient partners on a regular basis.

I feel the foundation of Oncode is very strong. The scientific output is impressive, and the valorisation efforts are paying off. There are some interesting examples of research findings being tested in the clinic, which only took a few years. This is extremely quick compared to how this process normally goes. I also noticed organizations from abroad are looking at Oncode with a lot of interest. An example is Cancer Research UK, which started a collaboration with Oncode last year.”

René: “I agree with Carla, especially about to the impact that Oncode has on how much quicker research findings can be tested in the clinic. It normally takes about 20 years before a new cancer medicine is on the market and available for patients. The valorisation team proved to be very productive, with several start-ups launched and lots of connections with industry partners.”

"I feel the foundation of Oncode is very strong. The scientific output is impressive, and the valorisation efforts are paying off."

How do you see the future of Oncode?

Carla: “Oncode needs to keep up the good work! The foundation has been created, and in the coming period I expect to see the a lot of groundwork come into fruition. I think it’s important that stronger connections with clinical researchers are made in the coming years, since they can support Oncode in creating patient impact.”

René: “I think it is very important to find a way to secure structural financing for Oncode. Apart from that, it’s important to keep up the good work. I want to finish with a compliment for the Oncode team in Utrecht: there’s always great energy flowing and they work very hard to make it happen. I’m very happy to be part of Oncode.”

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