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Workshop on "Systems biology of DNA-damage-induced stress responses"

Final Report Summary - EU-US WORKSHOP (Workshop on "Systems biology of DNA-damage-induced stress responses")

The purpose of the project was to organise a workshop on 'Systems level understanding of DNA damage responses' as follow up of the successful workshop 'Molecular signature of DNA damage induced stress responses' that was held in September 2003 in Cortona, Italy. This workshop was organised jointly by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Directorate General Research and Technical Development (DG RTD) of the European Commission. The Department of Toxicogenomics of the Leiden University Medical Center was from the European side the contractor and as such the organiser. The workshop took place in Vermont (US) in September 2005 and was a great success. In short, it can be stated that the workshop fulfilled the objectives laid out in the project plan.

An abstract and programme book was produced in collaboration between Ferro and Wallace's office in the person of Mrs Stern. Wallace's office took also care of badges and other practical items. A bus shuttle was made available from Burlington airport to the meeting resort in Stowe.

The workshop was a great success. In total 31 lectures were given. 27 posters were on display during the whole workshop. Especially the relatively long lunch breaks were available for poster viewing. A number of interesting posters was selected to be discussed in a dedicated session. In the last lecture Dr Ben van Houten summarised and integrated the information of the workshop. At the close of the workshop, the conference organising committee held a follow-up meeting to plan future activities.

This division reflects probably various factors: the pertinent field of research is more developed in the US than the EU, but the balance in speakers improved clearly since the Cortona workshop. The policy for selection of speakers was to have quality first. In the few cases that choices were equal, preference was given to a European speaker to try to balance geographically. With regards to the paying participants and young scientists unbalance resulted probably from a series of causes including geographic distance. The flow of know-how towards EU participants was very useful from educational and research point of view. Of the participants 30 % were female. Unbalance occurred especially within the group of organisers and speakers. It is probably a reflection of the actual division of senior workers in the field.

The workshop was attended by Dr Mimi Sander, sponsored by NIEHS, to draft the meeting reports. During the workshop she attended all sessions and spoke with most speakers and chairpersons. She also collected all PowerPoint presentations of the speakers. After the workshop she wrote two articles that were then circulated to all relevant participants for review. These two articles form the scientific outcome of the workshop. They are annexed to this report and will be published in DNA Repair, 2006, Vol. 5, 523-527 and in Mutation Research / Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, 2006, Vol. 599, 178-204.

The organisers sought permission of the speakers to post their PowerPoint presentations on the internet. About half of them agreed to post a sometimes modified set of slides.

The administrative winding up in the framework of this EU project consisted mainly of paying out travel money to speakers and young scientists from Europe, upon receipt of their travel claims. For the young scientists a ceiling was set for their claim based on estimated travel costs from their home to Stowe. All young scientists could cover the travel costs from this amount totally or at least for the largest part. For the invited speakers an amount was stated with the suggestion to stay within that. On average that worked out well. The offices of NCI did a similar operation for the US attendants, but this falls outside the project.

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