Teaching at a EuroNeurotrophin School
Organizing a training week and teaching your peers: an opportunity to grow
Teaching activities of the EuroNeurotrophin Consortium
When someone thinks about doing a PhD, the first thing that comes to mind is doing extensive research on your selected topic, and collecting and presenting your findings in a dissertation. Performing good research is of course very important, however a PhD is also a time where you should learn soft skills, and build a network of your peers to prepare you for your career after the PhD. In order to equip all ESR’s with broad scientific knowledge, and skills to prepare them best for their future careers, a large number of schools and workshops, as well as many secondments were proposed when building the consortium.
The three training weeks were composed of three schools, which were taught by our supervisors from different fields, each giving introductions to their fields of expertise. By our supervisors, we have been introduced to many different research approaches and techniques, computational, chemical and biological, which made communication and scientific discussion between fellow ESR’s easier. Seeing how other re-searchers work is particularly important for interdisciplinary consortiums such as ours, and fosters the development of new research ideas and points us in new directions. In addition to the schools, workshops were given by members of our partner organizations from industry. We have also had the opportunity to learn how drug development works in a commercial setting from our partners at Novartis Hellas, and how patenting and commercialization of biomedical inventions can be achieved from Ventac Partners. These workshops provided valuable insight for those of us who would like to pursue a career in industry rather than academia after their PhD. We had two additional workshops planned, however were postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic, which we hope to complete next year.
Apart from the training weeks, all ESR’s are participating in at least two secondments, many of them having one industrial secondment at an SME or a large company. These secondments enable students collaborating with each other to actually work with each other, learn new techniques from their host institutions and establish the techniques at their home institutions, and in case of industrial secondments, experience how research and production is conducted in an industrial setting.
Teaching at School 2: In vivo models for neurodegenerative disorders: strengths and limitations
Several of the ESR’s helped the supervisors organizing and teaching at the EuroNeurotrophin schools. I, Canelif (ESR8) personally have had the opportunity to teach at “School 2: In vivo models for neurodegenerative disorders: strengths and limitations.” My assigned lectures were on experimental techniques in neurodegenerative diseases, and Cuprizone model of MS, which I will also utilize in my research. It was particularly challenging to prepare the lectures, as all ESR’s come from different backgrounds. I paid attention to keep them simple enough so that the students with less training in biology could easily follow, but also detailed enough for the biologists to be able to benefit from them, as well. In addition to the two lectures, I have prepared practical sessions, on the identification of different cell types in the nervous system, comparing differences between Cuprizone fed and healthy mouse brains, and quantification of demyelination and microgliosis on Cuprizone fed vs. healthy mice.
I’ve had a very good time preparing the practicals, picking good samples for inspection, and preparing and testing the walkthroughs was hard work, but was also fun. I felt very pleased guiding my fellow ESR’s while they went through the practicals, and I hope they had a great time as well! I hadn’t considered teaching prior to this experience, but seeing as I have enjoyed it so much, I will certainly apply to teaching positions as well once I have earned my PhD. The EuroNeurotrophin schools have proved to be an even more valuable experience than I expected for me, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this consortium.
About the Author
ESR8: Canelif Yilmaz
Canelif’s research focuses on the evaluation of small molecule neurotrophin mimetics in models of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation. She is hosted by the Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Pathobiochemistry.