Inspire2Live Annual Congress – If About Us, Not Without Us – Amsterdam, 2023

Summary of Inspire2Live Annual Congress – If About Us, Not Without Us – Amsterdam, 2023

Worldwide we are dealing with 19.3 million people diagnosed with cancer each year and the numbers are growing. The majority of the people who die from cancer are from the low- and middle-income countries. Lack of awareness, late-stage diagnoses, no access to medicine, many reasons can be brought up but, in the end, there is a big global inequality.

Inspire2Live raises her voice to start the movement that cancer is a global disease and it has to be solved globally. Awareness, education, involvement of (to be) patients, physicians, researchers, regulators, industry and payers, they all have their responsibility. We have to be at the table to bring in our voice: ‘If about us, not without us.’

With the community that Inspire2Live build over the years, we are able to discuss matters at the same level of the people pulling the strings in the health care system. We have more then 90 professional volunteers in 37 countries. We believe that the way to do this is to create a coalition of the willing and influence the ones who pull the strings.

This means involvement of all the stakeholders, not only by talking but by formulating a project or plan of execution. Our congresses have proven to be the start of many initiatives.

Summary of this Annual Congress

Day 1

Day 1 of our Annual Congress 2023 started with our hosts Maureen Visscher and Tjebbe Tauber reminding us that Inspire2Live is an organisation with an audacious goal and a desire to act! Maureen shared that she first attended the Annual Congress in 2019 to give one of our famous 3-minute Rapid Fire talks about her initiative called “Surgery without Incision” and Tjebbe told us that since volunteering with Inspire2Live, he has left the banking world to work in healthcare.

Our first speaker, Nibedita Rath, joined us from the Open Source Pharma Foundation to speak about Affordable Medicine Available for All mentioning that it currently takes 12-15 years for new drugs to come to market whereas there are existing drug compounds which can be repurposed much more quickly. A good example of which is Metformin, the existing type 2 diabetes drug, which is the subject of thousands of trials for diseases like tuberculosis and chikungunya.

Eltjo Heddema (OncoInv) and Mao Mao (SeekIn) took to the podium to talk about OncoSeek®, a SeekIn product for multiple cancer early detection which uses widely available global lab technology to reduce the time between initial presenting symptoms and diagnosis. Eltjo and Mao Mao shared that SeekIn and OncoInv are now collaborating to make this technology available to as many people as possible at low cost.

Silvia Butzke, Chairman of the Inspire2Live Supervisory Board, was next up and she talked about her primal conceptual association of Inspire2Live being the concept of ubuntu, a Bantu term meaning humanity, sometimes translated as I am because you are. She described how she sees Inspire2Live World Campus members being united through a shared purpose and vision and the importance of listening to each other to bring out the best in each other. Focusing on technical and tactical issues will only get us so far, we need emotional energy and connection to sustain our performance.

Through our Wall of Remembrance, we took time to honour and remember patients, researchers and clinicians who took part in our projects and activities and who are no longer with us. We are proud and thankful for the privilege of working with them.

Louis Kyriakoudos, historian and Director at the Albert Gore Reseach Center in Tennessee, joined us to share a brief history of the tobacco (nicotine) industry which is foundational to understanding the most profitable industry of modern industrial capitalism. The global tobacco epidemic is responsible for one quarter of cancer deaths and 13% of all mortality globally, with one death for every one million cigarettes smoked. Marketing targets children at an age where addiction is highly likely and the tobacco (nicotine) industry coopts scientific, civil society groups to advance its interests.

Maria Lourdes Chacon, clinical nutritionist and psychologist, stepped onto the stage to talk about the importance of activity, food and exercise for cancer patients. After receiving a cancer diagnosis, people need to feel useful and she encourages patients to stay active through work, when possible, hobbies and/or volunteering. She also mentioned that food and exercise shouldn’t become a source of stress. Her advice to patients is to avoid extremes and to focus on the present moment. And her advice to us was to listen to the patient, not the textbooks!.

Professor Stephen Friend, Inspire2Live ambassador and one of our Heroes of Cancer, talked about the importance of sharing data during research rather than waiting until after publication to accelerate breakthroughs. Stephen is involved in a number of studies using individual data collected via wearable devices to warn of higher probability of disease giving the example of mPower, an app which can lead to the detection and evolution of Parkinson’s disease by measuring gait speed, balance and voice frequency using semi-ubiquitous devices such as mobile phones.

At this point in the programme, our congress participants then gathered excitedly under the snowy skies to embark on one of our traditional Out in the City activities. This year participants could choose between a visit to the Access to Medicine Foundation or CureVac and a guided walking tour of old Amsterdam.

After a round of reflections, Day 1 ended with a networking dinner at the venue accompanied by Mark Moss on guitar.

Day 2

Day 2 of our Annual Congress 2023 started with a presentation by Morten Scheibye-Knudsen from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen on the topic of data-driven interventions in ageing. He talked about the association between cellular senescence and cancer and how the former can be used to predict risk of disease.
During a moving in-person interview on the topic of hope, Nicole van Leeuwen, Inspire2Live Patient Advocate, shared the story of her recent pancreatic cancer diagnosis with Piarella Peralta, a fellow Inspire2Live Patient Advocate. Nicole also shared her wish for everyone to have access to the OncoSeek® multi-cancer early detection blood test.

Ariel Lindner, Co-Founder of the Learning Planet Institute, was next up to talk about how he is driving change at scale by learning through research. In his words, knowledge is like Swiss cheese and scratching the surface quickly leads us to a hole where we don’t know anything. Ariel shared that only 53% of women have a general knowledge of breast cancer and he gave the example of a mobile app, called BreMo, which serves to educate women about the disease and train themselves to perform a self-examination.

Salomey Eferemo, CEO of the Partnership for the Eradication of Cancer in Africa (PECA) which creates awareness amongst doctors and provides training about cervical cancer. Salomey talked about the need as a Patient Advocate to work from a place of personal conviction, empathising with cancer patients whilst truly listening to their wishes. In the same way that polio has been eradicated from Nigeria, Salomey believes that one day cancer will also be eradicated. The quicker we go, the more lives we save!.

At this point in the proceedings, it was time to present our 2023 Inspire2Live Patient Advocate Hero of Cancer award. This year’s recipient is Professor Bob Löwenberg, clinical haematologist, investigator and Emeritus Professor of Haematology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, for his merits to put patients first.

There followed a number of 3-minute Rapid Fire talks with:

Then, Georgina Cardama, Professor in Molecular and Cell Biology at the National University of Quilmes (UNQ), talked about the development of novel agents for the treatment of aggressive cancers including targeting tumor-promoting Rho GTPases as a therapeutic strategy. She also mentioned the importance of chronopharmacology when administering cancer treatment drugs to maximise effectiveness and reduce toxicity.

Panel discussion

Patricia Gomez from Pharm Access moderated the panel discussion on this year’s annual congress topic of If about us, not without us joined by

  • Beatrice Wiafe-Addai, Founder & President of Breast Care International and Inspire2Live Patient Advocate
  • Jay Iyer from the Access to Medicine Foundation
  • Bob Löwenberg from the Erasmus Medical Center)
  • and Hugh Laverty from IHI.

Breakout sessions

The last item on this year’s agenda was a number of breakout sessions to tackle the topics of:

  • Rapid access to medicine | with Sara Marquez from Astra Zeneca and Peter Kapitein of Inspire2Live
  • What can be done with registries | with Ariana Znoar from WHO-IARC, Everdien Derksen from IQVIA and Ilona Schelle from Inspire2Live
  • Maximising genomics | with Chris Zwanenburg from Illumina, Mao Mao from SeekIn and Eltjo Heddema from Inspire2Live

After a final round of closing remarks and reflections from congress participants, we ended our 2-day congress with another networking dinner at the venue with more incredible music from Mark Moss.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to making our 2023 Inspire2Live Annual Congress such a productive, enriching and inspiring event.

Talks and presentations from our speakers

You can find video recordings of all talks and presentations of our speakers on this page as well. Feel free to watch and look back.

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Listen to our participants

Professor Bob Löwenberg, Erasmus MC Rotterdam and Ambassador of Inspire2Live

Beatrice Wiafe-Addai, MD,PhD from Ghana

Iara Mantiñan Búa, patient advocate and journalist in Spain

Jayasree Iyer, CEO Access to Medicine Foundation, located in Amsterdam

Louis Kyriakoudos from the Albert Gore Research Center in the USA

Peter Kwame Yeboah, Executive Director of Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG)