ECTS-IBMS 2015 Young Investigator Session Summaries
All of the following meeting sessions were organized by the IBMS Young Investigator and the ECTS New Investigator Committees.
Meeting summary of the 2015 ECTS-IBMS Post-doc Training Course
Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 24 - 25 April 2015
Astrid Bakker (ECTS) and Bram van der Eerden (IBMS) were privileged to organize the first joint ECTS-IBMS post-doc training course in close collaboration with the other members of the ECTS New Investigator Committee and IBMS Young Investigator Committee. This course preceded the joint ECTS-IBMS conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The training course was aimed at improving basic skills of postdocs at various stages in their career as well as networking, discussing and learning from peers and professionals. Some preparation was required of the participants, such as to bring one of your own abstracts, to maximize the interactive nature of the course. We had a total of 22 participants actually attending the course (from Europe, the USA and South Africa), which was less than the number of upfront registered participants, but this limited number turned out to be ideal for a very interactive meeting.
The first day started with a special journal club where the goals were to learn to work under pressure, learn to focus on the highlights rather than details, learn to summarise your own research in only a few sentences, and learn to listen when other people explain their research. The exercise consisted of reading and summarizing a scientific paper in small groups in a very limited amount of time. On top of that the participants had to ‘connect’ this paper to their own research and together come up with a new research proposal based on their own work and the work presented in the paper, which had to be presented to the other groups. It was a great exercise, allowing everyone to get to know each other, and given the limited amount of time, presentations were well-prepared and remarkably good research proposals were provided.
Following this interactive course, we had a presentation by Prof. Peter ten Dijke from Leiden University who is an expert on BMP and Wnt signaling in cancers and bone. He discussed the bone diseases Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva and Sclerosteosis. He took us on a journey from the initial discovery of both conditions through the molecular mechanisms behind the responsible genes (BMP type I receptor ALK2 and SOST, respectively) to the development of potential novel therapies. The presentation was given in a delightfully interactive manner. The second presentation was held by Prof. Andre Uitterlinden and Dr. Fernando Rivadeneira (Erasmus MC, Rotterdam) who gave an overview of the different types of ‘Omics’ that are currently available. This is a very dynamic field with many technological developments that has led to the genome-wide analysis of DNA, RNA, protein, lipids and even metabolism at population level, eventually leading to integrating these approaches (Translational Genomics), using systems biology. They made the important point that the ‘omics’ tools are nowadays closer to your own research than you would think.
The evening was spent at the Turkish restaurant Zenne, which allowed a successful continuation of the interactive nature of the afternoon programme whilst enjoying good food and wine.
The second day started with a presentation by Dr Nadia Rucci (L’Aquila, Italy), which was aimed at more practical issues concerning animal models used for osteotropic tumors and metastases. She gave an extensive overview of the different techniques to introduce tumor cells in vivo and how to analyze the models, but not before raising awareness of the ethical provisions that surround in vivo experiments involving tumors and metastases.
Finally, we had 2 interactive sessions. The first dealt with ‘presenting’, was in the capable hands of Prof. Miep Helfrich (Aberdeen, UK), who started inventorizing all the do’s and don’ts of presenting provided by the participants. She then implemented these elements by showing educational movies with an emphasis on the use of voice/tone and body language. This inspiring session was informative and entertaining at the same time, and every participant actively joined the discussion (and some speakers as well)!
The second interactive session was given by Prof. André van Wijnen (Rochester, USA) on how to write a good abstract. He gave a very compelling and insightful presentation about all the different aspects of a persuasive abstract, which he made clear, is much easier said than done. He provided us with mantra’s to take into account when writing an abstract, such as ‘help the reader’, the words are clothes of your thoughts’ and ‘defy history, not logic’. In the final minutes of this session participants discussed their own abstracts with their peers based on the most important aspects of a good abstract discussed by André.
Altogether, the training course was very well appreciated by both the participants and the speakers. The course turned out to be vibrant, and to provide a good environment to develop skills in an educational and interactive setting.
Meeting summary of the Grant Writing Session
It was impressive how many young investigators attended the Grant Writing Breakfast scheduled early morning at the last day of the ECTS/IBMS meeting (Tuesday April 28, 2015 from 7-8.30 am). Similar to the Mentoring session, the 48 participants were able to spend 20 minutes at a table with one of the senior scientist and then rotate through tables until the end of the session. Senior scientists and the topics for discussion included Florent Elefteriou - writing style, Mone Zaidi - track record and Andre van Wijnen - writing an abstract, Gudrun Stenbeck - having a strategy before writing and Juliet Compston - the grant reviewer’s perspective UK and Gabri van der Plum the grant reviewer’s perspective The Netherlands. The discussions were very stimulating and new investigators were able to get answers to their questions related to both European and American grant systems. Overall, this was a very successful session with interesting discussions held over delicious coffee and breakfast. We would like to thank all attendees and importantly the experienced senior researchers who kindly shared their time and invaluable knowledge to our younger generation of scientists.
Meeting summary of the Mentoring Session
The Young/New Investigator Mentoring session (from 6:45pm-8:15pm, Monday April 27th), was a great success! This was a very well-attended session with 67 young investigators from around the world participating. The participants were able to spend 20 minutes at each table and then rotate through a total of 3 tables during the evening. The following mentors and topics were discussed: Michaela Kneissel: Women in leadership positions - challenges and opportunities; Robert Coleman: Bone Metastases; Uwe Kornak: Genetics in Bone; Marc Raaijmakers: The big dream of independency - is it worth it?, Carola Zillikens: Combining clinical duties and basic research; Nicola Napoli: Diabetic bone disease; and lastly, Hans van Leeuwen: Strategic career planning. Conversations often continued beyond the session and many young investigators seemed to find this small group setting very conducive to asking questions about topics not directly related to the established discussion topic. Moreover, the mentors appeared to be enjoying themselves, imparting their knowledge onto the next generation of bone research scientists and clinicians. The combination of the ECTS and IBMS members meant that everyone was meeting someone new and seeing their research or career path from a slightly different perspective. Thanks to all who participated and we look forward to having many more support sessions like this at the next IBMS meeting! Also, importantly a huge thank you to the Mentors!
Meeting summary of the New Investigator Scientific Seminar