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Örebro University, supported by EU cofunding, trains tomorrow’s research leaders to tackle future challenges within successful ageing

The fact that the world’s populations are living ever longer places new demands on society. The ageing population is without doubt one of the grand challenges for the 21st century. To tackle these challenges will require a new breed of interdisciplinary researchers, who have been trained to work on the topic within a number of different disciplines within science and the humanities. That is the goal of NEWBREED, an EU co-funded doctoral programme at Örebro University in Sweden.

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NEWBREED, which is co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions*, was launched in 2017. The advertisements for the 16 PhD studentships attracted more than 320 applications. Through a thorough and transparent evaluation process, 32 candidates were selected and invited to Örebro in early 2018 for interviews resulting in the final 16 to be chosen.

The PhD programme itself officially started in August 2018 and will last for four years, the official length for full-time doctoral studies in Sweden. The 16 PhD students come from all over the world: People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Romania, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Serbia, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Republic of Uganda, Greece, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Spain, Ghana, India, Turkey and the Netherlands.

How to cope with older populations and understanding the processes and means of tackling and benefiting from such populations has already been studied in great detail. However, the studies have mostly been independent, in often almost unrelated areas. NEWBREED aims to examine ageing throughout the whole life-course from many different dimensions, and not just in elderly people.

Four PhD students work in each of NEWBREED’s themes: Ageing and psychosocial adjustment, Ageing from a societal perspective, Ageing and the fourth industrial revolution, and The biology of ageing. During the four year period, each PhD student will carry out a number of secondments, some of them international, some interdisciplinary and some intersectoral. The programme will also be supported with a number of complementary training courses in subjects essential for researchers’ careers, including project economics, contract law, writing articles, grant application and idea commercialisation. At the end of the programme, NEWBREED will have produced 16 qualified researchers, fully equipped to continue research to tackle various questions within ageing.

Involvement in an EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action will help to give the programme additional reach and a well-known platform for the PhD students.

NEWBREED is part of Örebro University’s strategic initiative ‘Successful ageing’, an interdisciplinary cooperation between all of the university’s faculties that aims to explore how we can live a long, healthy and happy life. Örebro University is a modern, broad-based university with internationally prominent research with 15,100 students and 1,350 staff. The university offers some 85 degree programmes at the undergraduate and Master’s levels as well as some 1,000 separate courses. Örebro University cooperates with industry and commerce, local and regional governments and other organisations, both nationally and internationally.

* This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 754285.