SDIR-6 Congress Report

Congress report

The SDIR-6congress, the official biannual congress of the Serbian Association for Cancer Research (Srpsko društvo istraživača raka – SDIR), held from October 2-4, 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia. The congress brought together Serbian cancer researchers and researchers from 13 different European countries and South America (Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, and Chile). During the congress, cutting edge topics in cancer research were presented and discussed. The scientific sessions covered tumour metabolism and biology, gene regulation and epigenetics, bioinformatics and omics approaches in cancer research, therapy response and resistance, clinical and translational oncology, immuno-oncology, new drug targets and pathways to innovation in cancer research. The President of the EACR, Prof. Rene Bernards, gave a plenary lecture entitled “Unconventional approaches to treating cancer”, in which he emphasised that the activation of oncogenic signalling forces cancer cells to develop into less malignant cells. EACR Board Member, Prof. Chiara Ambrogio gave a plenary lecture “Targeting KRAS: achievements and drawbacks”.

Congress highlights

The SDIR-6 congress focused on collaboration in science: it brought together Serbian cancer researchers as well as cancer researchers from all over Europe and the world to establish new collaborations and develop new ideas on how to fight cancer.

Important highlights of the congress were the inspiring plenary lectures by the EACR President Professor Rene Bernards and EACR Board Member Chiara Ambrogio.

One of the highlights of the congress was the launch of the SDIR PhD Students Section, which aims to engage, motivate and connect more young cancer researchers.For the first time, the SDIR awarded the best poster in the PhD student category.

A very important highlight was the establishment of our national society’s journal Oncology Insights, which was presented and promoted during the SDIR-6 congress.

Abstracts and Awards

The presentation of novel findings in the field of cancer research made the SDIR-6 congress an important event for cancer researchers in Serbia, the Balkan region and beyond. The scientific program was diverse and enabled participants to gain new knowledge about cutting-edge cancer research, gather new ideas, empower themselves, and establish new collaborations. Nine scientific sessions were organized to cover the various aspects of cancer research as comprehensively as possible.

At the SDIR-6 congress, 23 invited lectures were held, of which 2 were plenary lectures. A total of 72 abstracts were received. The Scientific committee of the SDIR-6 congress selected 18 best abstracts whose first authors gave a short oral presentation within each of the scientific sessions. The EACR Best Abstract/Poster Awards and the newly introduced SDIR PhD Student Best Abstract/Poster Award were awarded. The committee for the EACR-sponsored awards, consisting of Prof. Chiara Ambrogio, DrRadmila Janković and DrIvana Matić awarded three awards. The EACR’s first prize for the best abstract/poster was awarded to Dr Jelena Knežević from the “Ruđer Bošković” Institute from Zagreb, Croatia, with an abstract entitled “Transcriptomic profiling of the early-stage squamous cell lung cancer”. The second EACR prize was awarded to Kristina Živić, a Ph.D. student from the Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia with the abstract “Characterization of heterogeneity of cancer-associated fibroblasts isolated from PDAC patients”. The third EACR prize was awarded to Dr Guillaume Medard from the National &Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece with the abstract “Amassing a treasure trove for drug repurposing using chemoproteomics”.

The committee for the SDIR-sponsored award in the category of PhD students, composed of Prof. Katarina Zeljić, Dr Ana Krivokuća and Dr Marko Radulović awarded the prize to Aleksandra Stanojević, PhD student from the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia for the poster entitled “Detection of viral proteins in locally advanced rectal cancer patient samples by mass spectrometry – predictive potential for response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy”.

Social/networking highlights

For the first time, the organization of SDIR-6 included the promotion of Serbian cultural heritage and an official short tourist tour through Belgrade. This was highly appreciated by the congress participants, especially those who were not from Serbia. The participants were invited to a concert of the Serbian traditional dances by the Cultural Artistic Ensemble “Ivo Lola Ribar” from Belgrade. During the concert, the participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with very rich cultural heritage of Serbia and get to know the diversity of national costumes and dances from different parts of our country.

The congress speakers, members of the Organizing and Scientific Committees, and all foreign participants had the opportunity to taste the national cuisine and enjoy the atmosphere in the Serbian restaurant in the bohemian part of Belgrade, Skadarlija, during the organized congress dinner.

Novelty compared to previous SDIR conferences

Compared to the SDIR-5 congress, which took place online, the SDIR-6congress was organized in person, with the poster session online streaming. The official journal of the society Oncology Insights was launched and the abstracts of SDIR-6 were published in the very first issue of the journal in electronic and printed form.

The current president of the EACR, Prof. Rene Bernards, and the member of the EACR Board, Prof. Chiara Ambrogio gave plenary lectures at our congress, which increased the visibility of the congress in Serbia and abroad as well as its scientific quality.

For the first time, a member of the EACR head office, Mr Andrew Binns, membership manager, visited our congress, which further strengthens bonds between our Serbian national society and the EACR. This visit was important for the SDIR board members and organizing committee to further improve organizational skills based on the suggestions of the experienced EACR expert.

Media Presence

The SDIR-6 congress received more support from the Serbian media, both on radio and national television and in interviews. Prior to SDIR-6, Prof. Rene Bernards gave an interview to the Center for the Promotion of Science. Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) broadcasted a video of the congress and a short interview with the congress speakers. Members of the organizing and scientific committee were guests on RTS and Radio Belgrade 2 broadcasts dedicated to science. All this has significantly increased the visibility of the congress not only in the scientific community of Serbia, but also in the general population of our country, which has recognized the importance of cancer research and science. The news was also published on the Netherlands Cancer Research website in the News Section.

Innovative sessions

The innovative session”Meetthe Expert” was organized on the last day of the SDIR-6 and lasted 60 minutes.This session was mainly organized for young members and PhD students, but was also open to all interested participants of SDIR-6 congress. Interested participants had the opportunity to talk and discuss various topics with experienced cancer researchers and representatives of the EACR. It was a very successful session and participants’ feedback was received to provide more time for the session for the next congress.

The 6th Congress of the Serbian Association of Cancer Researchers attracted a large number of participants, especially from abroad and increased visibility at the national and international level. We believe that the members of the Scientific and Organizing Committee of SDIR-6 have shown a high level of professionalism, fast-thinking and scientific excellenceneeded to support the idea of moving other congresses supported and/or organized by the EACR to Belgrade and Serbia. We hope to have the opportunity to serve as a new possible venue for the future annual EACR congress or other EACR events in the coming years.

We owe a special thank you to our sponsors:


Members Scientific and Organizing Committee


for a most successful congress. See you in 2025 at SDIR-7!