Published: 19-02-2024 09:21 | Updated: 19-02-2024 09:21

Retreat for the group and team leaders of MedH and BioNut

A room of seated people listening to a speaker on stage.
Retreat BioNut MedH Photo: Karin Vikström

On February 1-2, 2024 the group leaders and team leaders at MedH and BioNut met at Yasuragi to get to know each other, network and discuss future research projects. All in all, the days were filled with lively discussions and great commitment from the participants.

Petter Höglund and Janne Johansson, the Heads of Department at MedH and BioNut, had invited all the group and team leaders to the retreat and first out was a speed dating activity where the participants had the opportunity to briefly meet with both new and familiar faces to talk about their research and get to know each other a little bit better. Each date only lasted for two minutes, and the room was buzzing. The speed dating was highly appreciated, and many expressed a wish for the activity to become a regular feature in the future.

Hopes for the future

Professor Annika Bergquist then asked the participants to answer the question “What do you hope the new MedH will be known for in 5 years?” and write down their answers on a piece of paper. All the answers where then clipped on to strings and everyone could walk around the room to read the answers. Among the wishes were for MedH to be known for being an inclusive and collaborative workplace, for attracting young group leaders and for bioinformatics to be a strong and natural component in the research preformed at the department. 

Notes with hand writing on them has ben put on a string with clothespins, at a conference venue.
Notes on a string. Photo: Karin Vikström

Lessons learned in the past 25 years

Gunnar von Heijne held an inspirational talk, where he shared some of his experiences from establishing research centres and infrastructures during the past 25 years. One message was to “Get it started and let the young ones take over”. 

Gunnars talk inspired several reflections from the audience, of which some were further discussed in a panel discussion, with Christer Betsholtz, Maria Eriksson, Eva Hellström-Lindberg, Sten Eirik Jacobsen, Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, Rune Toftgård and Gunnar von Heijne. Like what makes a good research environment? and How to create balance between excellence and breadth in research? One important take away was that physical meeting points are important and events like this retreat gives people a chance to meet and get to know each other. What you don’t know you don’t like, what you know you like.

Education at the new MedH

The second day off with presentations about the education at MedH and BioNut, and how it is affected by the integration. During the autumn, there will be a meeting for all doctoral students, where they get a chance to ask questions and discuss the education. 

For the bachelor's and master’s level the responsible (GUAs) have set up a plan for how to act during the first 100 days, the first year and the first three years, to create excellent education at MedH.

A woman in the audience at a conferens is speaking in to a microphone.
Photo: Karin Vikström

Brainstorming future research

A brainstorming session ended the retreat, where the participants, in groups got an assignment to come up with a collaborative research project that made use of the different competences of the group members. The projects were to be presented as if they were pitched to a grant funder, such as the Wallenberg foundation. Many interesting project ideas came up and ranged from gathering meta data for sustainable health from grocery stores, to better understand the outcome of sepsis and a project on cell memory. The presentations led to interesting and, at times, lively discussions.

“We really appreciate everyone making time to join us and participate with great commitment at this retreat”, says Janne Johansson and Petter Höglund, heads of departments at BioNut and MedH. “We believe that meeting like this to get to know each other and sharing experiences is a factor of success for the integration project.”