The European Research Initiative for ALK-related malignancies (ERIA: www.erialcl.net) forms the core of a successful proposal for a European Training Network (ETN). Dr Suzanne Turner of the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge is the coordinator of the network and together with Prof Lukas Kenner (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, Vienna) and Dr Olaf Merkel (Medical University Vienna) formed a consortium around some of the leading researchers focussing on malignancies driven by the oncogene Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) to facilitate the development of less-toxic and more efficacious therapies. The consortium of 14 research groups based in 7 European countries developed a competitive training programme for 15 PhD students, which is complemented by an array of companies and other research organisations.
With a score of 95.4 the ETN made it into the top 6.3 % out of more than 1,300 proposals to obtain an invitation for funding. This makes European Training Networks one of the most competitive funding opportunities available within HORIZON 2020. “With ERIA we have based this proposal on an existing network of academic research collaboration, which will now be reinforced through the incorporation of several companies. I hope this will speed up the translation of our research into novel and improved therapies” said Dr Suzanne Turner. The core focus of the consortium which is called ALKATRAS: Break free from cancer, is to investigate mechanisms employed by the ALK oncogene to induce a variety of cancers including lymphoma, neuroblastoma and lung cancer. In doing so, it is hoped that novel therapeutic targets will be discovered and treatments for these developed together with the assistance of a number of companies based within Europe.