Best Poster Awards – Cancer Genomics

The 4th EMBL Conference: Cancer Genomics (4 – 6 November 2019) brought together over 240 scientists in the field of cancer research to present the latest findings in cancer functional genomics, systems biology, cancer immunogenomics and epigenomics, as well as their translation and clinical impact.

123 posters were presented at the two poster sessions, out of which two were selected as the winners by popular vote. 

Infinite sites violations during tumour evolution reveal local mutational determinants

Jonas Demeulemeester is a postdoctoral researcher at the Francis Crick Insitute in UK. PHOTO: Jonas Demeulemeester

Authors: Jonas Demeulemeester (1), Stefan C. Dentro (2), Moritz Gerstung (2), Peter Van Loo (1)

The infinite sites model of molecular evolution requires that every base in the genome is mutated at most once. It is a cornerstone of (tumour) phylogenetic analysis, and is often implied when calling, phasing and interpreting variants or studying the mutational landscape as a whole. It is unclear however, whether this assumption holds in practice for bulk tumour samples. Here we provide frameworks to model and detect infinite sites violations, identifying 24,459 in total, including 6 candidate biallelic driver events, in 700 bulk tumour samples (26.3%) from the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes project. Violations generally occur at mutational hotspots and their frequency and type can accurately be predicted from the overall mutation spectrum. In melanoma, their local sequence context evidences how not only ETS, but also NFAT-family transcription factor binding creates hotspots for UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation. In colorectal adenocarcinoma, violations reveal hypermutable special cases of the trinucleotide mutational contexts identified in POLE-mutant tumours. Taken together, we reveal the infinite sites model breaks down at the bulk level for a considerable fraction of tumours. These results warrant a careful evaluation of current pipelines relying on the validity of the infinite sites assumption, especially when scaling up to larger sets of mutations and lineages in the future.

View PDF Poster

(1) The Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom, (2) EMBL-EBI, United Kingdom


The other award-winning poster was:

Understanding the early impact of activating PIK3CA mutation on cellular and genetic heterogeneity presented by Evelyn Lau, UCL Cancer Institute, United Kingdom


Working on your own conference poster? Then check out 10 tips to create a scientific poster people want to stop by .

Follow us:

10 tips to create a scientific poster people want to stop at

Are you attending a conference and presenting a poster, but not sure where to start? Here are 10 tips to help you transform a good poster into a great one!

  1. Make it gripping!
    The scientific poster needs to captivate your audience from the beginning. Make sure you focus on what your key message is and put that clearly in your title.
  1. Keep the title short
    The title is what will make people either read your abstract and visit your poster or not. Keep the title short and snappy to make sure it draws interest.
  1. Leave out unnecessary words
    Make sure you only use words that are really necessary. Try to minimise the text, however make sure you clearly and succinctly describe the main conclusions from your project and the take-home messages.
  1. Make good use of graphics
    Focus on the graphics – these are what will catch the eye and explain the data in a way that’s easy to comprehend. Make sure you use graphics that are easy to understand, and stick to a consistent, clean layout.
  1. Don’t try to cram everything on the poster
    The poster is not the place to publish your entire research results. It serves as a networking tool that should attract attention, and help you start up conversations with other scientists. Include only the important information on the poster – YOU are there to provide any other information!
  1. Outline your methods
    Use one graphic, for example, which outlines the design of the study and the methodology that you’ve utilised. Follow this with graphics that convey the scientific results.
  1. Have clear take-home messages
    The take-home messages need to be clearly visualised and clearly described for them to be understood by your listeners.
  1. Know what’s important
    Work out what is the most important information on your poster, and make sure it is visible / readable from a distance in order to draw people who are walking past.
  1. Tailor your poster presentation to your audience
    When you’re presenting your poster to a listener, make sure that you assess their expertise level so that you can tailor your delivery to the person that’s standing in front of you. You don’t want to give the same level of details to somebody who already knows a bit about the subject as somebody who is completely unaware of the research area you’re in.
  1. Don’t forget credits!
    Be sure to include all acknowledgements and collaborators, as well as your name and affiliation on the poster.

Original video with Prof. Lars Steinmetz, EMBL Senior Scientist and Director of the Life Science Alliance

Follow us: