Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RESCUE (Local Training Network on REgenerative medicine and Stem Cell technology in UtrEcht)
Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2020-05-31
Together the University Medical Center Utrecht (coordinator), the University Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute appointed 29 international PhD positions on REgenerative Medicine & Stem Cells in UtrEcht. All positions, fully funded for four years, are located within the Regenerative Medicine Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands, within the EC H2020 Marie S. Curie COFUND doctorate project RESCUE. This unique international doctorate programme aims to enhance the potential and future career perspectives of these excellent early stage researchers by providing a global training network including over 50 excellent academic and industrial partner organizations. This training creates a new generation of research experts, empowering the fellows to drive regenerative medicine research towards valuable new applications in medicine and take leading positions in the field of Regenerative Medicine world-wide.
The first peer-reviewed papers have been published, master students were supervised, presentations were given to the scientific and clinical community, but also to the general public, including high school students. Some projects have been upgraded to proof-of-concept, a provisional EU patent application was filed and a few secondments have already been performed at our Partner Organisations.
Research done in this project on Regenerative Medicine is for the most part lab-based. Due to the COVID-19 lock-down laboratories were closed for three months and also clinical research could not be performed. Resuming and scaling up research activities was done carefully under strict conditions, following specific requirements. The fellows teleworked from home, worked on their admin, papers, planning, online courses and other tasks, but the impact due to the closure of the labs, postponement of courses and diminished mobility opportunities is substantial.
All recruited and appointed Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) have their own research project and all have joined the Regenerative Medicine PhD Programme Utrecht within the Graduate School of Life Sciences, which is interdisciplinary and cross-faculty. Regenerative Medicine is a dynamic field that brings together fundamental and clinical scientists from many disciplines with the aim of developing novel therapeutic strategies for a wide variety of diseases. The multidisciplinary nature of this field accounts for the involvement of several institutes, and covers a variety of enabling technologies and clinical application areas, such as stem cell-based treatment and regeneration of tissue types and organs. A unique hallmark of Regenerative Medicine Utrecht is the integrated approach in which basic scientists and clinicians from both human and veterinary medicine work side-by-side.
With the entrepreneurial workshop ‘the importance and outcomes of Early Clinical Evaluation’ given by the UMCU in partnership with The Healthcare Innovation Center in Utrecht (THINC.) and the Erasmus+ GROWTH project for Entrepreneurial Education, the ESRs were challenged to think in an early stage of their research about the possible clinical relevance, impact and usability of their research. What is needed in the planning, set-up and execution of their research to be able to make the biggest impact in healthcare later on.
This is an excellent example how the ESRs are trained for a future both inside and outside academia. The RESCUE programme manages researchers, not only research.