Dr. Niamh Buckley graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 2002 with a First Class Honours Degree in Biochemistry. She then carried out her Ph.D. training in the Department of Oncology (Queen’s University Belfast) under the supervision of Prof. Paul Harkin. Following this, she then worked as a post-doctoral researcher with Dr Paul Mullan in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (Queen’s University Belfast). During this time she investigated the role of the breast and ovarian tumour suppressor gene, BRCA1, in stem cell regulation and mammary gland differentiation.
Dr Buckley was awarded the prestigious Breast Cancer Now fellowship in 2013 to develop novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies in BRCA1-mutant and/or triple negative breast cancer. In 2016 she was appointed as a Lecturer in Personalised Medicine and Pharmacogenomics in the School of Pharmacy (Queen’s University Belfast). Her research focuses on the integration of in vitro, in vivo, bioinformatics and pathology approaches to identify key pathways underpinning poor outcome breast cancer and use detailed knowledge of this biology to identify appropriate targeted treatment options, personalising therapy in an area of unmet clinical need.
Dr Buckley’s work has led to a number of significant publications in leading cancer research journals and she has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including European Association of Cancer Research (EACR) Young Scientist Award (2012), Roche Gold Medal Award (2011) and School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences Post-Doctoral Researcher of the Year (2012).
Title: Where we are and where we are going – the winding road of Cancer Immunotherapy Biomarkers
It has long been thought that the ultimate cure for cancer would arise from harnessing the host immune system that, through its adaptive nature, can eradicate cancer cells even as they evolve. A significant breakthrough in this area has been the development and clinical application of immune checkpoint inhibitors as recognised by the Nobel Prize Committee in 2018. While remarkable and durable responses have been achieved across a number of cancer types, this is only observed in a subset of patients.
Our knowledge and understanding of the signalling mechanisms underpinning the cancer-immunity cycle are ever increasing, however we lack robust biomarkers to recognise these biological processes and tailor treatment accordingly.
We will discuss the current status of biomarkers for cancer immunotherapy and future developments in this rapidly evolving field.