Translational cancer research at the heart of AGORA

“In ancient urban planning, the agora was the hub for social, political and economic dimensions. According to Aristotle, civilization is not possible without an agora, site of multiple intersections where new ideas are born.”

Translational research is the activity that links fundamental, discovery-driven research to clinical research, which has a direct benefit for the patient. For example, if we take the field of immuno-oncology, the fundamental research is that which identifies and characterizes the vast array of cells involved in an immune response, while clinical immuno-oncology aims to efficiently mobilize an individual’s own immune system to fight disease as naturally as possible. Translational research, in this case, concerns the analysis of immune cells in actual tumor samples and their manipulation by genetic and chemical means, to increase the efficiency with which they can destroy a tumor. Clearly without all three approaches, immuno-oncology will not be able to save patients’ lives. 

The AGORA building, located at the heart of the university hospital campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, was designed to accomodate translational cancer research of all types. The purpose of its architecture is to embody the concepts that favor innovation: discussion, collaboration and exchange. In ancient urban planning, the agora was the hub for social, political and economic exchange, and according to Aristotle, civilization is not possible without an agora, where new ideas are born.

A symbol of multidisciplinarity, the AGORA building can host more than 300 researchers and clinicians who bring the scientific and clinical expertise needed to counteract the devasting progression of cancer, which affects an ever-increasing number of individuals. The creation of the AGORA research center is the result of a public-private partnership that will serve as a benchmark in the world of medical research. Exchange, positive perspectives, professionalism, dialogue and openness are the hallmarks of the work that takes place in AGORA. Without doubt, the impact of its research reaches far beyond the Lake of Geneva.

The emerging discipline of biomedical research seeks to translate scientific theories and laboratory discoveries into practical medical applications, in order to optimize the quality of medical and pharmaceutical care provided to patients. The resources needed to develop this discipline are substantial. They call for equipment that cannot systematically be financed by traditional laboratory budgets, as well as human testing phases that require clinical supervision and proximity to the hospital.

The ISREC Foundation supports these efforts by harnessing the generosity of donors to fulfill its two fundamental missions: translational cancer research and the promotion of young careers in science. This effort takes on its full significance in the context of the cutting-edge, targeted research made possible by the AGORA, and its translation into quality patient care, which embraces human, psychological and social dimensions as well. AGORA and the ISREC Foundation work together to deliver groundbreaking insights in cancer therapy and its application in clinical practice. Without philanthropic support, promising projects translational cancer research could not be accomplished.