UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


NexTGen Cancer Grand Challenges and EFCE “Chemical Engineering and Medicine”

13 February 2023


NICE and the nature-inspired solution (NIS) methodology could play a significant role in developing new therapies, including for future cancer immunotherapies. In this context, a few important launch events were organised over the past few months.

On 5 December 2022, an excellent workshop was organised in Paris by the European Federation of Chemical Engineers (EFCE), and joined by EFCE’s leadership, through the help of the SFGP (France), to launch a new EFCE section on  “Chemical Engineering applied to Medicine”. Special thanks go to Professors David Bogle (UCL) for taking a lead with Giorgio Veronesi (EFCE President), Francois Nicol (Veolia) and Dr Martine Poux (Uni Toulouse) for the organisation. Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens was invited to present, and spoke about our NICE approach and applications in controlled delivery, combating anti-microbial resistance, and a systems engineering approach to cancer immunotherapy.

Another significant launch was that of the recently awarded, $25M NexTGen Cancer Grand Challenges project (led by Dr Martin Pule, UCL, and Prof Catherine Bollard, Children’s National Hospital), in which the CNIE joins cancer experts from the UK, USA and France to develop cancer immunotherapies that target paediatric solid tumours.

Following online events in October, and a CGC Future Leaders Conference on 2-4 November 2022 in Barcelona (where Dr Matthew Chin, UCL CNIE presented), an intense in-person workshop was held at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in London on 24 and 25 January 2023. Here, Marc-Olivier Coppens (UCL CNIE) was one of three spotlight speakers, joining Dr. Kevin Litchfield (UCL) and Prof Irving Weissman (Stanford). The 6 work packages were introduced and discussed by key investigators on the grant, strategizing on their execution, and an important part revolved around advocacy, poignantly introduced by the patient advocates. This highlighted the immense challenge the team is putting its collective efforts towards, but also the hope presented by this interdisciplinary team. As Yoda famously said: “Do or do not. There is no try”.