Between the 23rd and 26th April 2018, 14 of our recruited early stage researchers (ESRs) attended the first Network-wide training event of the GLIOTRAIN Training Programme. The Introductory Programme was designed to introduce the ESRs to the project as a whole, to the PIs, the management team and of course to meet each other for the first time. The PIs and associated post-doctoral researchers were present on Day 1 of the event, where all ESRs had the opportunity to present their projects to the consortium. This gave the ESRs the opportunity to hear feedback regarding their projects and discuss options with members of the consortium not based in their own labs. Day 1 concluded with a joint network dinner with Purines DX (http://purinesdx.eu/), another H2020-MSCA-ITN coordinated by RCSI, which was held at Saba in Dublin.
Day 2 of the Event was dedicated to Patient Advocacy and we were delighted that Kathy Oliver, Chair and Co-founder of the International Brain Tumour Alliance (www.theibta.org) and GLIOTRAIN Advisory Board Member, was able to lead this Session. We were also pleased to welcome Dr Kieron Sweeney, Senior Specialist Registrar in the Dept Neurosurgery, Beaumont Hospital, RCSI, Fiona Keegan, National Coordinator of Brain Tumour Ireland (https://braintumourireland.com) and Eloise Cowie, Neuro Oncology Clinical Nurse Manager at Beaumont Hospital.
Dr Sweeney opened proceedings with a talk entitled "An Overview of Brain Tumours", which gave the ESRs information regarding the clinical aspects of glioblastoma as a disease and its management.
In order to give the GLIOTRAIN students a perspective on brain tumour charities, Fiona Keegan explained the story behind the establishment of Brain Tumour Ireland and how the charity now supports brain tumour patients, their families and their wider networks. Eloise Cowie gave an excellent introduction to the Brain Tumour Biobank, which was set up partly with funding received directly from Brain Tumour Ireland. The Biobank is an important resource in the GLIOTRAIN Programme. Kathy Oliver gave a wonderful and very moving talk regarding the personal journey of her family and her son, Colin, who died from glioblastoma in 2011. She discussed the challenges that patients, their families and caregivers face, but also the hope that exists to improve outcomes for patients and improve their day to day lives. Kathy also introduced the ideas behind inclusion of patient advocates in directing research and how this can positively impact all stakeholders.
To round off the day we held an interactive workshop, where the ESRs were set the task of presenting their individual projects to Kathy, Eloise and Fiona using appropriate language for a lay / patient audience. A 45 minute preparation time preceded this where students worked in groups to prepare their short talk. All of the ESRs then had a chance to present their own project and all of the students really rose to this challenge. The panel offered feedback regarding the language used and style of presenting which will stand the ESRs in good stead when they take part in outreach events over the course of their projects. At the end of Day 2 the GLIOTRAIN and Purines DX students all took part in an "Escape Rooms" social event.
Day 3 of the Event was focussed on the transferable skills element of the training programme, with a full day dedicated to Project Management, tailored to PhD projects. Sessions were split into "Managing Yourself", "Managing your Project" and "Managing Others". This interactive workshop, led by Margaret Collins, was held for GLIOTRAIN and Purines DX students, giving the students from both programmes the chance to interact.
The final Day of the Training Event covered the important topics of Open Science and Data Management. Both of these topics are essential for students to be introduced to early in their project due to the requirements of Open Access in EU funded grants as well as the new GDPR that came into force in May 2018. Sessions were delivered by RCSI Library (Open Science), by the RCSI School of Post graduate studies (Data Management 1) and remotely by GLIOTRAIN Beneficiary ITTM (Data Management 2). To round off the event Project Manager Dr Alice O’Farrell had a question and answer session with all of the ESRs.
We have received very positive feedback from our ESRs on the event and we look forward to all meeting again in August in Belgium for the next hands on training event!