Excellence in Research

How to create excellent research was the main theme of this year’s autumn meeting for the K.G. Jebsen centers. Some of the country’s most successful researchers shared their experiences. It was pointed out that success (not unexpectedly) is the result of hard work, but all emphasized two important elements to become a leader in research: research stay abroad and networking.

A stay abroad gives the opportunity to learn new techniques and work with ambitious colleagues who are more skilled than you. At the same time, a stay abroad is an excellent opportunity to create your own network. The practical difficulties of going abroad, perhaps with a partner and children, was highlighted. However, a shorter stay is better than no stay. UiB pursues a conscious policy in this area, for example, by postdoctoral fellows receiving an additional year if they go abroad, sabbaticals, and channels to apply for additional funding.

Success is infectious. If one of the PhD students in the lab manages to publish a paper in Nature or a corresponding journal, chances are bigger that you will be able to do the same. If your labfriend gets an ERC-Starting Grant, chances are that you can be equally successful. Harald Stenmark at the Institute of Cancer Research at UiO is one of three Norwegians to receive two ERC-Advanced Grants. He talked about the positive cycle of research. Project funds provide the opportunity to invest in equipment, personnel and money to do studies. This gives (hopefully) good results and publications, which can be used to apply for more funding for more equipment, people and studies. Ole Andreassen, who heads Norment, one of the Centers of Excellence (along with, among others, Vidar Steen and Stephanie Le Hellard at K2) highlighted the enormous importance of international networks to map the genetic mechanisms of psychiatric diseases.

The start is often the most difficult part and the institution should play an major role facilitator. K2 is doing quite well in this regard and we have many excellent examples to follow. I am confident that we can create more excellent research in the future. The next chance to excell is to obtain a new Center of Excellence. The Medical Faculty wants drafts of new centres by 1 December. More information will follow in K2-news.

Eystein Husebye
Acting Head of Department

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