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Prostate Research Organizations-Network of Early Stage Training

Final Report Summary - PRO-NEST (Prostate Research Organizations-Network of Early Stage Training)

PRO-NEST, an innovative training network for young scientists

PRO-NEST is a pan-European career development and training programme for young prostate cancer scientists. This multi-disciplinary network started on 1 October 2009 for a period of four years with the training of 20 Early Stage Researchers and 4 Experienced Researchers to provide them comprehensive knowledge and expertise in basic, clinical and applied prostate cancer research and to become an independent and all-round team leader in cancer research. PRO-NEST has attracted 17 of Europe’s leading academic and industry leaders, from nine countries, to act as supervisors to the fellows - stimulating a cross fertilisation of ideas across different languages and environments. In addition, 5 Associated Partners from the public and private sector including Europa Uomo, the European coalition of patients supporting groups for prostate cancer, have been supporting the network.

The PRO-NEST training programme consisted of individual research projects that were embedded in the PRO-NEST research programme. Research focused on the understanding of the molecular events responsible for the initiation and progression of prostate cancer as well as on the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and prevention of this major European health problem. The training was supplemented with four network courses and two workshops, providing training on scientific and complementary skills including scientific writing and presentation, time and project management, leadership and entrepreneurship, job application, and grant writing skills. Through secondments to other partners additional technical training was gained and opportunities for collaborative research were offered.

As a final event, PRO-NEST has organised an international symposium on prostate cancer research on 25 October 2012 as part of the 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Urology Section of Urological Research in the Palais des Congres in Strasbourg, France. During this well-attended symposium, the PRO-NEST fellows presented their work to an international audience and five outstanding scientists from the USA and Canada gave a keynote lecture on prostate cancer research.

The PRO-NEST research programme has generated many new leads for future research, including novel genes and proteins that are potential diagnostic or prognostic markers for prostate cancer or that could serve as targets for novel therapies for this disease. In addition, numerous models and technologies have been developed that will be of high value for prostate cancer research, both with respect to the understanding of this disease as well as to the development of novel markers and treatments.

The PRO-NEST fellows are widely being acknowledged for their scientific work, as reflected by over 25 peer-reviewed publications, numerous selected oral presentations at congresses as well as by various best abstract and presentation awards. The attractive profile of the PRO-NEST fellows for future employers both in and outside Europe is reflected by the fact that the Experienced Researchers have found positions at outstanding institutes in academia and industry. At the end of PRO-NEST on 1 October 2013, two of the Early Stage Researchers had received their PhD degree after a three year fellowship. For the other fellows, the theses are in preparation or research projects have been extended to a fourth PhD year because of national PhD regulations.

The success of PRO-NEST is also recognised by the European Commission, as reflected by an interview of the coordination team with the communications agency Media Consulta on behalf of DG Research and Innovation to write a "success story" on PRO-NEST. The interview will appear on the DG Research and Innovation website and may be disseminated at various conferences and fora.

Interested to learn more about PRO-NEST? Please check the PRO-NEST video on YouTube or contact the PRO-NEST coordinator Prof. dr. Guido Jenster (g.jenster@erasmusmc.nl T. +31-10-7043672) or the PRO-NEST project manager Dr. Ellen Schenk (e.schenk-braat@erasmusmc.nl T. +31-10-7044876) at Erasmus MC, Department of Urology, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.