Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - GENETIME (An interdisciplinary training site in ancient biomolecules)

GENETIME was an interdisciplinary training centre dedicated to the recovery of information from ancient biomolecules. Europe is the world leader in this uniquely exciting new area of research but due to the speed of methodological development and the extreme interdisciplinary nature of the field, training and resources are fragmented within and between countries. Ancient biomolecules is a vibrant and innovative new discipline, a European research strength. The speed of growth of the new field has led to a highly fragmented research community and a strong demand for appropriate training. Ancient biomolecules is an interdisciplinary research area perfectly suited to a Marie Curie early stage training site.

GENETIME linked together four Centres of Excellence each of which has a particular research expertise. Between them the GENETIME EST recruited and trained four PhD students exposing them to some of the leading practitioners. GENETIME has helped close the knowledge gaps that have opened because of the rapid expansion of ancient biomolecular research, via a series of workshops, meetings and collaborative projects. GENETIME held a series of four open workshops - the original plan for an initial closed workshop was changed following additional demand. These varied in style and scope. Following feedback from the students the latter two workshops were shortened and contained less passive class work.

We were fortunate that with the support of the Fundacion Ramon Areces, the committee members of the archaeological sciences conference and Prof. Graeme Barker and members of the MacDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, we were able to:
(i) hold a conference / workshop which ran over a week in Madrid; and
(ii) run a workshop after the Arch Sci 07 conference.
The training elements were monitored by the GENETIME staff at meetings at the workshops in years 1 (York, Oxford) and year 3 (Dublin). Laboratory skills training was delivered by York and Oxford, computing skills training was delivered by Oxford, and all workshops involved the students in Presentations and to a less extent presentations skills training. The 4 PhD-ESRs and 22 v-ESRs between them attended a total of 71 workshops and conferences during their time in GENETIME. It was useful to monitor progress to maximise interaction between the training centres.

The most significant outcome was the decision to limit time spent within other laboratories within the network, due to slow progress of two of the students. Administration was conducted by York as planned, and the team would like to mention the efforts of Holly Wright (research administrator) and David Hudson (research office, financial management) who dealt with numerous problems with finance and reporting. Only one of the four PhD ESRs has submitted their thesis for examination. Dr Paul Campos was successfully examined in January 2009. A number of new collaborative researches have been initiated by GENETIME; this includes collaboration between v-ESRS (Svensson & McGrory; Stock & Letts) and between laboratories within GENETIME. Internal communication was not as successful as hoped, and the network really only came alive at networks. The students themselves did not develop a strong GENETIME identify (something which seems very different in the larger LeCHE Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) network). To what extent this reflected the small number of PhD-ESRs or the very different project that they undertook we are not sure. Part of the media interest stems from the high impact of much of the research with four publications in Science, two in PNAS and one in Nature (with a further paper in review with PNAS). There was a high level of satisfaction amongst the participating students who have been involved in the application of cutting edge technological innovation in ancient biomolecular research.

Reported by

University of York
Heslington -
YO1 5DD York
United Kingdom
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