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Research and education related to brain research in non-human primates: a multidisciplinary European training platform

Final Activity Report Summary - SENSOPRIM (Research and education related to brain research in non-human primates: a multidisciplinary European training platform)

The Early stage research training programme (EST) for young scientists called SENSOPRIM offered a pan-European platform for research and scientific education related to non-human primates. Research training and education focussed on the analysis of information processing in a highly developed brain. The objective of the proposed EST was to coordinate the research training and scientific education in 10 European laboratories studying higher brain functions in the demanding model of the non-human primate.

EST fellowships offered an indicative 360 person-months for Early stage researchers (ESRs) between October 2004 and September 2008. Education and scientific supervision was provided by the following core group of leading laboratories and research institutions from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The participating research groups were represented by U. Büttner (Munich, DE), W. Graf (Paris, F), B. Hess (Zürich, CH), K.P. Hoffmann (Bochum, DE), A. J. van Opstal (Nijmegen, NL), G.A. Orban (Leuven, B), G. Rizzolatti (Parma, I), W. Schultz (Cambridge, GB), H.P. Thier (Tübingen, DE) and S. Treue (Göttingen, DE).

The structured research training programme consisted of two parts, a specific, individual part including the individual research training at a chosen host institution and a general one, i.e. the joint scientific education program. The individual part was adapted to the scientific interests and the educational needs of each young researcher. It offered theoretical and practical training as well as supervision related to his or her research project. The local scientists that were in charge advised and introduced the young researcher to adequate courses, lectures or training programs of direct relevance for their personal research task. On the other hand, the general educational part was provided by the SENSOPRIM coordination in close collaboration with the participating hosts and was realised by the participating host institutions, their scientific staff, or visiting colleagues who were internationally renowned. This part of the training aimed to broaden the neurobiological knowledge base and introduced the participants to the various research areas of the different hosts. Special attention was paid to different research approaches and methodologies as well as different techniques. Additional training courses for complementary skills, such as oral presentation, scientific writing, science management and leadership were offered and rounded off the programme.

The training programme was also open for additional young researchers in the field who were not directly linked to the SENSOPRIM core group. Depending on the actual training focus it attracted various participants in diverse arrangements. Overall, nine training events took place at the participating host institutions. They were complemented by several meetings at international workshops and conferences, such as the annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience, Washington 2006 and San Diego 2005 and 2007, United States of America, the Federation of European Neurosciences (FENS) meetings in Vienna 2006 and Geneva 2008, and more local workshops, e.g. the annual Tübingen-München-Zürich 'TüMüZü' workshops, and the first primate neurobiology meeting hosted in Tübingen, Germany in 2008.

SENSOPRIM strengthened the organisational structures among European neuroscientists and became the starting point for new complementary coordinating funding, such as the EUPRIM-Net (please see online). A new Marie Curie proposal to continue research training for young scientists was in preparation, by the time of the project completion, under the guidance of the German primate centre in Göttingen.