Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - EUROPTOSIS

These last 4 years, the 'European cell death organisation' (ECDO) has been able to organise a coherent series of Euroconferences focusing on cell death research within the FP6 'Marie Curie Conferences and Training Courses' project. The general aim of these ECDO 'Euroconferences on Apoptosis', which have been organised since 1993, is to bring together young and more established investigators from all over the world to discuss the latest developments in the field of cell death research. The financial support received from the European Commission enabled ECDO to continue pursuing its main activities and to elaborate on the training aspect of its meetings. During these 3-day meetings, a selection of topics is addressed by about 40 researchers from all over the world, among who are 20 invited top scientists from leading research groups in the field. These invited lectures (duration about 30 minutes each) are supplemented with short oral communications (15 minutes) from the abstracts submitted by conference delegates. Further, two to three poster sessions are integrated in the conference program, creating ample time and opportunity for informal scientific discussions and networking. The conference also presents one keynote lecture, aimed at opening new avenues in cell death research and the ECDO honorary lecture, homage to a scientist with an exceptional record in the field. Together, this combination of high quality invited speakers, oral communications and well-organised poster sessions provides a format which is highly appreciated by the conference delegates.

In 2004, with the start of this project, ECDO launched a new initiative to meet the need of training of young students and to improve the educational role of the Euroconferences. A one-day training course was introduced, taking place just the day before the actual meeting. This training course is focused both on concepts and methods in programmed cell death: an overview on the latest knowledge, literature and concepts is presented, but much attention is also given to new methodologies and tools used in the study of programmed cell death. Experts in the field present an educational lecture of about one hour, followed by discussion. In this way, the ECDO Euroconference on Apoptosis hopes to assist in the training of young investigators and at the same time believes to provide an interactive forum for the spreading and/or improvement of specialised technologies, approaches and assays.

Apart from the organisation of these series of Euroconferences in combination with the training course, one additional workshop was organised within the same vision of providing more training to younger people. This one-time event completely focused on immunological aspects in cell death research, a very rapidly evolving and hot area in the field. This two-day meeting took place in Villejuif (Paris) and was attended by approximately 100 people. The main target group were young researchers in training.

From the evaluation forms returned by the conference delegates after the respective meetings, we can conclude that the meetings organised within this framework, were much appreciated and were perceived as very high level meetings in the field. The implementation of a training course was very successful, as witnessed from the positive feedback on this aspect, but also from the growing number of attendants each year. The fact that so many young students received a Marie Curie scholarship (comprising either waived registration, reimbursement of travel or accommodation expenses or a combination of these) to attend this international meeting was most appreciated and is believed to have an important impact on their scientific training. Especially young students from Eastern European countries (where lab funding to young students for attendance of international meetings is not all that common) expressed their gratitude for the chance they were given to attend the Euroconferences on Apoptosis.

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