Nobel Conference 56

Cancer in the Age of Biotechnology
October 6th & 7th, 2020


The Nobel Conference brings students, educators and members of the general public together with the leading thinkers of our time, to explore revolutionary, transformative and pressing scientific questions and the ethical issues that arise with them.

What causes cancer? What are the biological mechanisms that cause cancer cells to grow uncontrollably at a great cost to the body as a whole? How does a person's immune system protect against a disease that originates from one's own cells? In recent decades, researchers have made great strides in understanding both the progression of cancer in the human individual and the ways the individual’s immune system responds to it. Their findings have led to the development of cancer therapies that can strategically target cancer cells, with the result that persons undergoing the treatments experience fewer side effects than they would with traditional chemotherapy. Many of these innovative and highly effective treatments are based on antibodies and other complex biologically-derived molecules, rather than chemically synthesized drugs. The complexity of these biological drugs allows for their specificity and greater effectiveness, but also makes them very expensive to develop, produce and administer. Advances in treatment also increase the number of individuals living with cancer raising questions about how to most effectively support patients in the long-term following diagnosis.

Nobel Conference 56 will explore the science of these new cancer treatments, and address the structural and societal factors that influence who will have access to these life-saving treatments. Can we imagine a future in which these next generation therapies are available to all those who need them?