We are delighted to kick off the series of exclusive interviews with key members of the Towards Gastric Cancer Screening Implementation in the European Union (TOGAS) consortium. Our series begins with an informative discussion with Professor Mārcis Leja, an expert in gastroenterology from University of Latvia, in Riga. As we delve into the project and its objectives related to the EU priorities in terms of cancer prevention and screening.  

1.    Who are you and what’s your role in TOGAS?
Hello, I am Professor Mārcis Leja, representing the University of Latvia, a leading institution in medical research, especially in the field of gastroenterology. At the University, I serve as a professor of medicine and also oversee the Institute of Clinical and Preventive Medicine. For me, it's a real honour to lead the TOGAS research group, coordinating our collective efforts across Europe to provide the necessary information to develop and carry out effective gastric cancer prevention plans throughout the EU. I'm deeply involved in ensuring the smooth execution and coordination of our activities within TOGAS.

2.    Why is it important for TOGAS to be an EU-wide project?
Gastric cancer remains a significant health challenge in Europe. The European Council highlighted the necessity for gastric cancer prevention and screening across the EU, especially in high-burden countries. However, currently, no EU country has implemented a dedicated and comprehensive gastric cancer screening program, underscoring the urgency of this issue. Therefore, TOGAS's EU-wide approach is crucial. By pooling our resources and expertise, we aim to identify and implement the most effective strategies for gastric cancer prevention throughout Europe, aligning with the broader objectives of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

3.    Why is TOGAS important to your organisation and you?

For me personally, and for our research group at the University of Latvia, TOGAS represents an opportunity to contribute significantly to a field we are deeply passionate about. My research has long focused on helicobacter-related studies and general cancer prevention. With over a decade of experience in this field, we are eager to share our insights and learnings on a European scale. TOGAS's specific objectives, such as assessing various screening modalities and ensuring sustainable outcomes, align perfectly with our goals and expertise. We are committed to aiding in the development of effective gastric cancer prevention strategies across the EU, ultimately contributing to the health and well-being of its citizens.

As TOGAS continues to advance in its work, stay tuned for more interviews from other consortium members, offering further perspectives on this initiative and its activities.