Enabling young researchers to pursue careers in biomedicine
An EU-funded project is enabling young European biomedical researchers to organise annual scientific symposia, career days and outreach activities. The aim is to connect them with prominent scientists and give them the skills and experience to advance their own careers.
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The EU-funded ENABLE project is equipping young biomedical researchers with valuable skills and helping them to develop their careers, thereby ensuring the future health of Europes biomedicine sector, from research to therapy.
ENABLE aims to inspire young researchers to look beyond their horizons. To this end, the project offers enriching high-level scientific conferences in which to build networks with scientists from diverse fields of science and promote exchanges between disciplines, collaboration with industry, and communication with society at large, says Clara Caminal, of Spains Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona).
According to Caminal, the project has a unique feature in that all of its activities are organised by a group of young researchers from four scientific institutions in different countries. ENABLE is implementing the innovative idea of bringing these young researchers together to organise international conferences for other young researchers. This led to the first PhD and postdoc symposium in biomedicine held at the European level.
This successful symposium, held in Barcelona in November 2017, welcomed over 270 participants from more than 25 countries, both within and outside the EU. The event also attracted companies, and 10 sponsoring organisations provided travel grants to more than 60 young researchers.
A second symposium will be held in Copenhagen (6-9 November 2018), followed by similar events in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (2019) and Milan, Italy (2020). These will explore the latest research in the thematic areas in which the four consortium partners operate, providing a model for a new and unique brand of conference organised by and aimed at young researchers.
Volunteer researchers organise and manage the events, which requires considerable dedication and time devoted to deciding the title, speakers, format of the activities, dissemination plans, and budgeting issues, among others, says Caminal. In this respect, ENABLE is tackling the challenge of creating a setting in which these young researchers can implement and further develop vital transferable skills.
The projects flagship initiative is the career day during which PhD students and postdocs from all over Europe are given the opportunity to interact with professionals from different fields, to discuss career perspectives beyond the laboratory workbench.
ENABLE 2018 career day will be one of the main events at the Copenhagen symposium. Activities will include career chats, workshops on career options, and a career opportunities fair. The aim is to provide participants with new skills to effectively manage their professional development. With only a few PhD students securing faculty positions, the project team believe it is important to promote alternative career options.
Since another core component is public engagement, the symposia will give the young researchers an opportunity to share their knowledge with citizens in an informal atmosphere. ENABLE outreach activities include sessions with children and teenagers, panel discussions with adults focusing on scientific achievements and ethical topics, and talks in city bars.
On the one hand, ENABLE is designed to stir curiosity in our youngest audience, namely primary and secondary schoolchildren, through tailor-made outreach activities. On the other hand, the Career Day activities offer young scientists a more global vision of all the employment options available beyond academia, says Caminal.
The fact that all the activities are organised by a committee of young researchers creates an informal and friendly atmosphere around the events and facilitates an interesting exchange of frank and original ideas, she concludes. The project hopes this will lead to new joint research projects, the creation of innovation research networks, and training programmes with an international dimension.