Scientific Workshops – Oncology 2020: Cancer knows no borders

Mgr. Michal Šelc, PhD., Ing. Lucia Demková a RNDr. Katarína Kozics, PhD.

Mgr. Michal Šelc, PhD., Ing. Lucia Demková a RNDr. Katarína Kozics, PhD.

The tenth, jubilee year of the educational-popularization event called “Scientific Workshops – Oncology” was successfully organized in its annual term. During February and early March, organizers of the event, the Institute of Experimental Oncology of the Biomedical Research Center SAS and the  Slovak Cancer Research Foundation, visited almost 40 high schools around Slovakia and 1 high school abroad.

Lectures on cancer topics are held at high schools in many Slovak cities from February 4 (World Cancer Day – WCD) to March 7 (Cancer Research Day). The 7th year of Young Oncologists Award on the occasion of Cancer Research Day was supposed to be the top event. However, it had to be postponed indefinitely due to the epidemiological situation associated with COVID-19. “The new date will be announced soon and all participants will be informed about it electronically,” informed organizers of the competition, Slovak Cancer Research Foundation in cooperation with Gymnázium Hlinská in Žilina. We are looking forward to an alternative date for the competition and we wish all competitors a lot of patience and future success….

What topics were presented during lectures of Scientific Workshops – Oncology 2020 (SWO 2020)?

One of the main goals of SWO 2020 lectures was raising awareness of cancer and informing students about the importance and relevance of cancer research in Slovakia. The second, no less important aim of the lectures, is to inspire students all over Slovakia to study medicine, natural sciences, but also social and technical sciences and arouse curiosity and interest in education, whether in the field of cancer research, or science and technology as such.

High number of questions confirmed the interest in cancer topic among high school students, many lecturers from the Institute of Experimental Oncology of the Biomedical Reasearch Center SAS (IEO BMC SAS) agreed.

In this jubilee year, for the first time, one of the lectures took place outside Slovakia, specifically at the Slovak grammar school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

At several high schools, including in Ukraine, RNDr. Katarina Kozics, PhD. from the Department of Nanobiology IEO BMC SAS presented. Dr. Kozics spoke mainly about cancer as such, its origin, prevention and early diagnosis. “In general, in addition to genetic predispositions, many different factors are responsible for the development of cancer, some of which we can influence ourselves. Every year, more than eight million people die from some type of cancer. This number is rising from year to year due to the increase in carcinogens in our environment and the unhealthy way of life of the entire population. Information on prevention, symptoms and early diagnosis can save lives,” was one of the main messages of Dr. Kozics.

RNDr. Katarína Kozics, PhD. počas prednášky, Gymnázium Cyrila Daxnera, Vranov nad Topľou

Young people give lectures to young people, one might say. Every year, young researchers as well as doctoral students working in individual departments are among the lecturers from IEO BMC SAS. Even in this jubilee 10th year, they were ready to present various topics of their research. Andrea Holíčková and Katka Bérešová, two doctoral students, were among them.

doktorandky Katka Bérešová a Andrea Holíčková s RNDr. Jánom Sedlákom, DrSc., Piaristické gymnázium Jozefa Braneckého v Trenčíne

 “In my lecture, I discuss DNA damage and repair as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I talked about how important it is for cells to be able to maintain the integrity of the genome by removing DNA damage, and on the other hand, I explained how DNA damage can be used, for example, in chemotherapy. I introduced two types of malignancies that are subject of research in our laboratory – germ cell testicular tumors and bladder tumors. I also presented the issue of tumor resistance, especially resistance associated with increased DNA repair, which our research team deals with,” Andrea summarized her lecture.

Katka talked about the topic of her research, and that is childhood acute leukemia and its origin: “Childhood acute leukemia is one of the most common childhood malignancies. Although the treatment achieves a success rate of up to 90 %, it causes lifelong health complications in many patients and cannot completely prevent relapse, ie the return of the disease. In order to be able to design a more specific treatment, it is necessary to clarify the molecular mechanism of its formation.” (You can also learn more about childhood acute leukemia from Katka’s article on the BMC SAS website; the article is now just only in Slovak language)

In addition to previously mentioned topics, there were also other topics presented by researchers of IEO BMC SAS. Students also learned more about nanomedicine as a potential new way to treat cancer; nanomaterials and their size and use in various areas of everyday life were discussed; antioxidants and their importance in cancer prevention was one of the topics, too, as well as cancer prevention and natural substances; the question also arose as to whether we would ever have a “miracle” pill against cancer; causes leading to tumors were investigated; and many other topics.

More about the atmosphere during individual lectures, about the topics, as well as about visited schools and lecturers of Scientific Workshops – Oncology 2020 can be found on the Facebook profile of BMC SAS (Biomedical Research Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences) or on the website of Scientific Workshops – Oncology (SWO) 2020


SWO 2020 link


Scientific Workshops – Oncology is an event which introduces the topic of cancer research through lectures for high school students.

The event is organized by the Institute of Experimental Oncology of the Biomedical Research Center SAS and the Slovak Cancer Research Foundation


Translated by: Mgr. Tatiana Šipošová, BMC SAS