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Neuroscience Early Stage Research Training

Final Activity Report Summary - NEUREST (Neuroscience early stage research training)

The development of causative therapies for psychiatric, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders is of prime socio-economic importance and can only be achieved on the basis of major research efforts into basic and applied neurobiology/neurophysiology. On the other hand Europe presently faces a lack of neuroscientists who have undergone advanced and multidisciplinary training that covers broad areas of neuroscience.

Therefore NEUREST, an international training program for doctoral neuroscientists, has been established by the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen together with its partners, the University of Göttingen, the European Neuroscience Institute, the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, the German Primate Center, and several research-oriented local companies. 40 Faculty members, many of them internationally renowned scientists, have provided structured training in a wide area of advanced methods of neurosciences. In addition, the young researchers were trained in complementary skills such as scientific presentation and writing, teaching, and project management, encouraging them to embark on long-term research careers. The overall aim of the programme was to provide an organisational framework for promoting international relations and for building long-term relationships that transcend national boundaries.

The complexity of the nervous system requires multidisciplinary research approaches. Thus, the training involved a multitude of physical, molecular, genetic, physiological, and systems/behavioural approaches as required for a well-rounded education meeting the demands of research and industry. In addition, the program provided a strong link between basic science and clinically oriented research. This was possible due to the participation of faculty members that are either directly involved in clinical (patient-oriented) research, or that are working with animal models of disease.

The training lasting typically for three years included the following elements:
* Project-oriented research on a cutting-edge project in one of the participating labs,
* PhD Progress Report Seminars,
* Courses in advanced neuroscience methods,
* Programme Retreats,
* Courses in Scientific writing / Rhetoric and presentation techniques,
* German classes,
* International cultural events and site visits.

A total of 16 PhD students from nine countries were financed by the EC grant, equivalent to 540 person-months of Early Stage Research Training. More than 50 % of the researchers were recruited from third countries; the percentage of female scientists is 69 %.

Besides achieving scientific excellence based on research-oriented training, the fellowships will have a strong impact on the career development of the young scientists and equip them with the skills they will need to become group leaders in neuroscience research. The project will ultimately have a significant impact on the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders in Europe and elsewhere in the world, - to the benefit of those suffering from such diseases and improving the quality of their lives.