Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - SLEEP TRAINING (Training in sleep research and sleep medicine)

Problems related to sleep and sleep loss are increasing in modern societies, resulting in a higher demand for well-educated professionals in this field. Among the challenges that European countries need to face are those related to the consequences of increasing sleep loss, often due to increasing workloads performed during irregular working hours, and those linked to specific sleep-related medical conditions and diseases, such as insomnia and sleep apnoea. It is thus apparent that in the near future an increasing number of specialists will be needed in the fields of sleep research and sleep medicine to deal with these questions. The present project was presented and managed by the European Sleep Research Society (ESRS), an international scientific non-profit organisation which promotes all aspects of sleep research/medicine in Europe.

The goal of the program was to provide young trainees from different European countries with an excellent and uniform theoretical and practical education in sleep research/medicine and the opportunity to gain experience from reciprocal interaction and interaction with top level senior researchers. It is worth noting that in Europe, at present, there is a large discrepancy between well-developed and developing countries regarding both the education and practice of sleep research/medicine, since while in the majority of developed countries there is a well-established training program for sleep specialists, in developing countries no regular training is available.

The goal of the project was very successfully achieved during the four years of the Program, in which 168 (110 early stage and 58 more experienced) trainees from 36 different countries were educated. The Program consisted of three types of events: i) four Training Courses, lasting up to five days; ii) four Practical Training Periods in a sleep research laboratory or sleep clinic, lasting one week; 3) one Final Symposium, lasting four days. Every year, 40-45 new trainees were enrolled in the Program and participated in both the Training Course and the Practical Training Period, while all trainees participated in the Final Symposium. The quality of the training was assured by the involvement of teachers/trainers who are top scientists in their field. They were elected according to their scientific excellence and their ability to teach, and to general interest in their research topic.

Every year, 40 teachers/trainers were invited to participate in both the Training Course and the Practical Training Period, while an additional 18 teachers participated in the Final Symposium. The Training Courses and the Final Symposium were residential events, in which students and teachers lived under the same roof and shared not only work time but also free time and mealtimes. Trainees chose the site for their Practical Training on the Program from among eleven different laboratories and sleep clinics in Europe that were selected to represent different areas of sleep research/medicine. Students had the opportunity to present original data on their own research achievements both during the Training Course and the Final Symposium.

Complementary skills, including career development, management, ethical questions, and science funding were extensively discussed in special sessions during the Training Courses and in workshops during the Final Symposium. Trainees were evaluated after all events, and at the end of the Program they were given a Diploma of participation in the four-year ESRS Sleep Research and Sleep Training Education Program. The whole Program was very positively received by trainees, and we hope to be able to offer a similar opportunity to future trainees in order to further improve the quality of sleep research/medicine in all European countries.

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