Research day at MED – an inspiration for collaboration
The research day at MED brought together around 100 inquisitive K2 employees this week. The main theme was collaboration and new alliances, both within the institute and externally conveyed by lectures, poster presentations and informal discussions.
Two working groups presented ways to improve cooperation. The most exciting was a “matchmaker function” called Science Match, which will facilitate collaboration both at K2 and the faculty. As an app or website, Science Match is intended to help K2 employees and students to find expertise, instruments, equipment and chemicals at campus. You need not travel to California (even if that is more fun) for an expertise that can be found on the floor below. In the subsequent discussion, it was brought up that some universities apply PhD and Master’s student rotations between research groups. I think this is an exciting concept that will increase the students’ competence and stimulate collaboration – perhaps it can be implemented in the 4-year PhD program at MED? The challenge is hereby sent to the deanery.
But research and collaboration require funds. Eystein Jansen, perhaps the most merrited researcher at UiB and vice-president of the European Research Council (ERC), talked about ERC grants, both for young people (Starting Grant), those on the way (Consolidator) and seniors (Advanced). Synergy Grants can be sought for ground-breaking research where 2-4 partners join forces to create something completely new. Somewhat unique to the ERC grants is that there is only one criterion, scientific excellence! Norway does not come out very well in this competition, neither in relation to our Nordic neighbours, and especially not compared to countries such as Israel, Switzerland and The Netherlands, which are at the top of the world in terms of innovation and technology. Those who want to apply can get good support from the Research Department and positioning funds can be applied for. There is also the opportunity to register as a panel member and thus learn more about the application process and what is required.
Later in the day, we received a presentation from Ole Johan Borge, Director for Health Research and Innovation at The Research Council of Norway. He told us that we cannot expect the Research Council to receive more funds in the future and the competition is fierce, but there are opportunities and there are K2’ers who succeed. Øystein Fluge (K2) and Johan Tronstad (Biomedicine) recently received funding under the Women’s Health Program for research on ME – congratulations!
Women’s health is indeed one of the thematic umbrellas at MED with several strong groups, and where it can be expected that earmarked funds will come in the future. I believe most of K2’s groups can do have a women’s or gender perspective on their research, so work strategically.
Another thematic umbrella is bioinformatics, which is becoming an increasingly important part of research at the faculty. Here we need to build a stronger environment at the faculty and improve the service to the groups so that bioinformatic analyses do not become a major delay in projects – if it takes years to get a dataset analysed we lose in the competition.
Last but not least, the poster competition was a refreshing and interactive exercise, with many excellent presentations. In tough competition, Marianne Hannisdal and colleagues from K2 and Biomedicine won with a poster on the use of MRI and artificial intelligence to predict the growth of gliomas – congratulations!
The research day was a success and will certainly stimulate more collaboration across groups, departments and faculties – we look forward to the continuation.
Vice Head of Department