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EASD Scientists Training Course 2016 - Report

This year's EASD Young Scientist Training Course was held at Deutsches Diabetes-Zentrum (DDZ), a centre of excellence in diabetes research, located in Düsseldorf, Germany. Participants from all over the world conducting research in European Institutions were welcomed on the evening of the 6th of November with a reception in the DDZ foyer. Members of the friendly DDZ team, including Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani, postdoctoral and PhD researchers, as well as the very welcoming EASD organisers greeted us with drinks, appetizers and good conversations in the very colourful autumn in Germany.

Lectures and practical sessions

The course kicked off on Monday with an introduction by Prof. Hadi Al-Hasani about the DDZ, and the scope of the training program. The beauty of this course was an opportunity to gain “hands-on” experience and practical knowledge of different laboratory procedures including state of art in-vivo and molecular biology techniques being carried out by the experienced researchers at DDZ. What made this course unique was the amount of time devoted to laboratory work. The participants were divided into groups of 3-4 individuals each for the practical sessions, under the able guidance of very experienced team of instructors consisting of Alexandra Chadt, Dhiraj Kabra, Christian de Wendt, Simon Göddeke, Anette Kurowski, Torben Stermann, Delsi Altenhofen, Sandra Lebek, Tanja Schallschmidt, Christian Binsch, Matthias Dille, Heidrun Podini, Angelika Horrighs and Christian Springer. Each group was mentored by a group of these extremely talented experts each day for the duration of the training course. Practical modules were accompanied by detailed theoretical presentations, which gave us information and prepared us for experiments. On the final day of training, we had an opportunity to review our cumulative results generated during training sessions by different groups and our mentors also provided us templates of experimental analysis, which we find very useful for implementing the new techniques in our current or future projects.

Tell us about your research

From Tuesday to Friday, each day included about an hour long session, where participants took turns to present their research interests, which proved to be insightful and enriching, given the diverse backgrounds and study fields of our participants. The group consisted of different people with very different clinical and basic research backgrounds coming from all around the globe.

Social events

Intensive laboratory sessions were always followed by refreshing evenings full of fun and humor with our new international colleagues. The social program provided us an opportunity to improve our networking skills and cross cultural understanding. The entire organisation committee and DDZ hosts were with us to socialize and have fun outside the research training. These social events made us discover the wonderful city Düsseldorf as we went around the old town and enjoyed eating and drinking in a West-German style. We had a lot of fun talking about cultural and work-related differences over good local German beer until we became tired. These informal, relaxing activities brought everyone closer together. Such interaction was very beneficial in promoting scientific exchange as well, as we felt more comfortable to ask questions and got motivated to learn many new things from colleagues and local “mentors”. Indeed this program was not only a rich academic experience for the participants but also was an example of the rich German culture, their vibrant society and way of life. 

Epilogue

As all the participants treaded back to their home institutes, they carry with them warm memories of this academic extravaganza, and are better equipped to carry on their research work in their respective institutes. The training school indeed served as a great platform for young researchers coming from all corners of the world to share knowledge and experiences, and find their footing in this global village.

Above all, we would like to give our hearty thanks for providing us with such an amazing training to develop our skills in the field of diabetes research. First we thank Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani, for his excellent moral support and organisation; we are grateful to him for sharing his research experience and for teaching us how to ‘trouble-shoot’ the problems that we face in our individual projects. We also thank him especially for his tolerance, patience, and for coming down to have real good fun with us throughout the event, making it a big success by encouraging us in every way possible. We are also grateful to Lilly Diabetes for sponsoring this course. Finally, we specially thank Mary Hata and Nicole Krause for their excellent administrative support and all staff members who contributed with their valuable time and efforts to teach and train us during the course.