Published: 29-06-2020 18:28 | Updated: 29-06-2020 18:28

INTRICARE EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie ITN course in collaboration with DEVREG

Latest advances in cardiovascular medicine: from basic to translational research with added value for transferable skills

September 23-27, Karolinska Institutet

This course (3 ECTs) was created to share the latest advances in basic, clinical, and translational research to battle vascular calcification and ageing and was allocated to the KI DEVREG program after approval by KI’s research educational committee. It consisted of on-site individual studies and web-based modules on the implementation of the sex and gender perspective in preclinical and clinical research (in collaboration with CIGH) and in house teaching for individual modules representing the four areas of KI’s experts (Prof. P. Stenvinkel, U. Hedin, M. Bäck and J. Frostegård belonging to EU Marie Curie ITN Network INTRICARE at KI led by P. Stenvinkel) together with another EU network (COST) and KI’S doctoral program DEVREG. Assoc. Prof. K. Kublickiene and Assist. Prof. L. Matic acted as course leaders, with support from S. Frebelius and Assist. Prof. A. Witasp.

Thirty nine PhDs, master students and EU researcher were enrolled in the course. They gathered at a carefully-selected venue in downtown Stockholm, Generator, a relaxed environment combining all the necessary equipment for teaching with a ping-pong-table, a stage and a cocktail bar, creating a stimulating ambience.

Since the course was to combine transferrable career skills with scientific content, the students warmed up on the first day in a workshop led by A Hennigan, a TEDx Stockholm Speaker Coach, Lecturer and Writer, who gave them practical tools and advice on a topic “Enabling Skills to Leverage Your Career”. On the first day the students also got to know each other in an ‘infotainment’ inspired way, stimulated also with an informal presentation by the DEVREG KI student representative A De Paepe, who shared her about story how “soft skills” supported her research career and future choices in academia. Besides the scientific interests, this first afternoon revealed that the group harbored many unexpected talents, such as students with an extraordinary ability to effectively produce viruses, to conduct Earth Moon-Earth radio-wave communication, or with excellent musical and language skills.

As we all know, optimal learning environments have a significant impact on creativity, motivation, collaboration and ideas that boost innovation. In our case, our participants have been prepared for a packed program with both educational and advanced interactive research lectures provided by both KI colleagues and international guests in the different geographical locations representing the multicultural beauty of KI’s campuses. These research modules included: Immunology and inflammation in vascular calcification (organised by M. Bäck and J. Fröstegård, Flemingsberg), Vascular cell plasticity (L. Matic and U. Hedin, Solna), Chronic kidney disease and vascular calcification (P. Stenvinkel and K. Kublickiene, Solna). There were separate meetings and guided tours at the Nobel Museum and an open lecture from Prof. E.Smith representing the KI’s Nobel assembly. The course was spiced with state-of-the art lectures on scRNAseq, scCytOFF and potential applications for AI.

In five days with more than 60 participants (the doors were open to everyone) and more than 36 lecture topics, this course has served not only as an advanced platform for learning, but also presented a unique setting to encourage cooperation and the generation of ideas. Although slightly challenging for the course organizers trying to keep track of everyone involved, the biggest reward has been acknowledged by our international collaborators and students indicating how the concept of ‘internationalization’ should be integrated in research content of educational activities to strengthen international competitiveness while providing an innovative, high-quality diverse course portfolio at university.

Learning together for better health! This is the motto that drives innovation for a better, healthier and sustainable world! We all agreed on that when planning already a new occasion for the next international doctoral course. The journey continues!