Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - MNIEST (Molecular Neuro-Immunology Early Stage Training)

MNIEST supported full PhD training for eight long-term (three-year) doctoral fellows and skills training for an additional twelve short-term (three-month) early stage researchers. Students recruited to the programme following highly competitive open selection were a culturally diverse group from Europe, Africa and South America with backgrounds in diverse scientific and medical disciplines. This diversity significantly supported the multi-disciplinary, internationally-oriented ethos of the programme and enhanced the student experience. Arising from this positive ethos and experience, two short-term fellows returned to take up full-time PhD training (funded from other sources) to participate in programme.

Research training cantered on projects investigating the molecular and cellular cross-talk between the nervous and immune systems. The quality of the research carried out is evident from the number of conference presentations (38), abstract publications (20) and peer-reviewed papers accepted for publication (7) in international journals that has emanated directly from the work of the fellows.

A programme highlight was the organization by the fellows of an international symposium on neuroimmunology in UCD in March 2008. Originally planned as a workshop to which they would invite international speakers who they wished to meet and interact with, the speakers who responded to the students' invitations were of such high calibre and international standing that the Symposium eventually attracted over 250 participants from all over Europe and the proceedings were published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology. In addition to inviting and arranging details for the visits of the invited speakers, the students also arranged all details of the symposium, including abstract selection for oral and poster presentations, scheduling and chairing of sessions - with each student co-chairing a plenary session with their supervisor - preparation of the symposium programme and abstract book, organising facilities for oral and poster presentations, arranging venues and obtaining sponsorship for hospitality. All the students also presented their work at the symposium.

Throughout the programme, research training was supported by taught modules in neuroimmunology, immunology and neuroscience, a neuroimmunology journal club and seminar series (organised by the students) and weekly CLASS seminars in the Conway Institute, which feature high-profile international and national researchers. Student education and training was also complemented by advanced technological and transferable skills courses.

Three doctoral students have now successfully graduated with PhD degrees, three have completed their doctoral research, submitted theses and are awaiting viva examination with the latter two currently writing their theses for submission early in 2010. Two of the graduated students have taken up post-doctoral positions, one in Ireland (NUI, Maynooth) and one in the United States (University of Massachusetts Medical School).

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