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École Polytechnique, partner of the French Oncology Forum

Last year, the French Oncology Forum (Rencontres de la cancérologie française) honored École Polytechnique and its researchers. This unprecedented involvement in a medical conference sparked the interest of doctors, patients and companies, who were introduced to the new technologies currently under study at our laboratories.

For the past ten years, the French Oncology Forum (RCFr 2018) has served as a privileged platform for debate between the principle figures of a long line of clinicians, researchers, carers, patients and companies brought together within the main institutions (INCa, AP-HP etc.) involved in the fight against cancer in France. This year, École Polytechnique actively participated in these debates by highlighting the main research into bioengineering for cancer research being conducted at the institution. L’X proposed new avenues of reflection for the future to an audience of future potential end-users and funders of such research.

While École Polytechnique does not conduct medical research directly, the institution remains at the forefront of the field of bioengineering, particularly for applications in oncology. Bioengineering is a highly diversified area of research, ranging from improving understanding of the biological processes behind immunotherapy to developing innovative imaging systems for early cancer diagnosis (phase-contrast X-ray imaging, Mueller polarimetric imaging), as well as studies into irradiation for treating cancer (cold plasmas, ultrafast energetic electron sources), and development of mathematical models for precision medicine.

"It has been our great honor to have participated in the Forum," stated Benoît Deveaud, Vice Provost for Research at l’X. "[This Forum] enables researchers to move out of their usual environment in order to establish new ties that will lead to future collaborations with the main groups involved in oncology."

For the researchers, "taking part in the RCFr was also an opportunity to bring together the different forces working on oncology into the Research Center," according to Angelo Pierangelo, a l’X research engineer working at the Laboratory of Physics of Interfaces and Thin Films (LPICM, a CNRS/École Polytechnique joint research unit). By coordinating École Polytechnique’s participation in the Forum, Angelo helped highlight research being conducted individually at a number of laboratories, giving them the necessary increased visibility for creating new collaborations. "We were able to meet the actual users of the technologies we are developing, including doctors, patients and companies," explained the researcher. "At first, they were rather surprised by our ideas, but they soon became very interested, as [our research] departs from the usual framework of developments in oncology."

This fresh, new outlook on medical issues proposed by the researchers will allow for the development of groundbreaking innovations and ultimately contribute to improving cancer diagnosis and treatment. In the words of physicist, Niels Bohr, "it wasn’t by trying to improve on the candle that electricity was invented".