Skip to main content

VIB International Postdoctoral Program to boost '-omics' technologies throughout the institute.

Final Report Summary - OMICS@VIB (VIB International Postdoctoral Program to boost '-omics' technologies throughout the institute.)

The COFUND project omics@vib was granted to VIB as a single beneficiary under the FP7-PEOPLE-2010-COFUND call with start date 15/12/2011. The program was designed to attract 20 incoming postdoctoral fellows to VIB life science labs for a period of 3 years. As such the omics@vib postdoc program was designed for a total of 60 man years. In the course of 2012 an extention of the omics time-period from the initial 48 till 66 months was obtained to allow for an additional call for candidates at the end of 2013. As such omics@vib fellows were selected in 3 subsequent calls (Dec 2011-2012-2013). The selected omics@vib fellows covered 12 different nationalities, mostly from European countries but also 2 non-EU fellows (Brasil & India).

The selected omics@vib fellows smoothly integrated in their VIB research groups as well as into the VIB institutional community. They plugged in to all scientific and technological facilities including the institutional core facilities available throughout the institute. In addition, they were stimulated and actively joined the training@vib program covering scientific, technological as well as soft skills training.

Yearly omics@vib mid-term evaluation meetings were held from December 2013 till December 2016. In these meetings the progress of the omics fellow project was evaluated in the presence of an international review board. These meetings were organized as scientific conferences open for any researcher at VIB. Selected fellows presented their work followed by a Q&A session involving review board members as well as general VIB researchers. In additional the floor was open for omics@vib fellows to come up with suggestions and new ideas to be initiated.

One of these ideas was the creation of an institute wide postdoc community. Interestingly many omics@vib fellows were sparked by the research environment of VIB and took the opportunity to join the steering committee (including the chair position) to develop institutional postdoc community activities (PDC). These additional activities allowed omics@vib fellows to acquire additional ‘science policy skills’. The PDC successfully organized several community meetings focusing on postdoc careers and other science/technology topics. These activities reached out to the whole postdoc population at VIB (>300 people) as well as to the VIB Alumni community with special attention to careers outside academia.

In the course of 2015 we introduced the opportunity to apply for an omics@vib extension 3-6 months. This opportunity was created based on remaining manmonths within the program (some fellows decided to terminate their 3years contract earlier). The opportunity to offer extensions was agreed upon by our EU project officer. Requests for extensions were drafted by fellows and PI’s and evaluated by the international review board. In total 14 fellows applied for an extension of which 8 were granted. For each evaluation step (mid-term review and request for extension) the review board carefully drafted individual review feedback reports, including suggestions towards their future careers. Omics@vib fellows have clearly expressed their appreciation for these reports.

The omics@VIB projects turned out to be very successful with 81 publications to date (several publications still in preparation). In addition, they were inventor on 5 patent applications. (addendum 1). All publications were stored in university repositories for green open access and – when the journal allowed – gold open access was obtained. In about 50% of the papers, omics@vib fellows were the leading author on the paper. In addition, >90% of the publications were published in journals belonging to the Tier25 of their field (with 70% even to the top league Tier 5 journals). The list of publications and patents is available on the VIB/omics webpages. Moreover 6 press releases covering omics@vib research have been published in our VIB newsletter and spread/shared through social media channels on Linkedin (VIB and VIB Alumni), Facebook and Twitter.
Besides scientific publications omics@vib fellows also joined the activities of our Communication Team in joining programs for the broader public s.a. Scientists on the road; Biotech Day; 20yrs of VIB.

Most omics@vib fellows have left VIB to embark on the next step in their career. At the enddate of the omics program 5 postdocs were retained in their hosting VIB lab for an additional period beyond the enddate. In these cases, the omics@vib fellows were financed by other funding sources upon the decision of the PI. These extensions were mainly granted to finalize important papers, which will have a further impact on the career chances of the fellows. All other postdocs have left for the next step in their career covering academic, industrial and science policy positions. Most of them joined the VIB Alumni network to stay connected and informed on upcoming VIB activities.