Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - AGAPE (Advanced genetic analysis in the post-genomic era)

The AGAPE programme was developed in recognition of a gap in training provision. The discipline of genetics is of fundamental importance to the understanding of biological systems and the increasing volume of data available through genome sequencing, combined with technological advances in genetic analysis provide a platform for future advances in life sciences. The AGAPE programme contributed to this agenda through providing high level skills training to outstanding young scientists.

Training was offered at three levels, PhD, MRes and short visit, enabling researchers to acquire skills to support their research development and fast track their careers. AGAPE was delivered by an interactive group of 20 staff with varied research interests and a capacity to train across the full range of advanced genetic techniques. A total of 32 early stage fellows benefited from training.

The programme has succeeded in its objectives as evidenced by recruitment of outstanding research fellows and delivery research training to the original plan, together with scientific research outputs, qualifications awarded and details of career progression. Recruitment of fellows was through open competition with each call attracting outstanding applicants for the training programme. We selected nine fellows for PhD level training, eleven fellows for our MRes in advanced genetic analysis and eleven for short visits (AGAPE EST fellows). Selection of candidates was based upon merit and appropriateness of application to the AGAPE training programme. The quality of fellows recruited was very high with the majority of the students having first class degrees. The 23 European fellows were drawn from Belgium, France Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, while the remaining nine trainees were recruited from Bangladesh, China, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru and the Russian Federation. Fellows came from different scientific backgrounds with interests ranging from human and animal population genetics, infection and immunity, plant science, developmental biology and structural and molecular biology but had a shared interest in genetics based analysis.

The internationality and breadth of background training and experience of the AGAPE fellowship and of staff (AGAPE academic staff) fostered a strong interactive approach to research and training which encouraged interdiciplinarity and knowledge exchange. Overall we have delivered 473 fellow months of postgraduate level training through a combination of taught modules, skills training and directly supervised research. The scope of the training covers a broad spectrum including molecular, developmental and population genetics and techniques ranging from genome sequencing, transcriptomics and expression screening to functional genomics and SNP based population analysis.

The research has to date generated eighteen published scientific papers and many more are in preparation. Fellows have also presented their scientific data to peer review audiences at over 30 national and international conferences. The success of training can also be demonstrated by the award of qualifications and the career progression of fellows (career progression of EST fellows). Thesis submission for the cohort of PhD fellows will fall between October 2008 and 2009. To date three candidates have been awarded their PhD degree. Four fellows have secured further employment as postdoctoral researchers and one is working as a medical geneticist. Of our eleven MRes fellows eight were awarded their degrees with distinction and nine are now studying towards a PhD degree using their genetics skills, one is employed as a medical geneticist. Eight of our twelve short visit fellows are completing PhD training, two have research posts and a further two are currently applying for further training.

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