Training programme


PolarNet currently plans to offer the following courses, networking, and training events (details and dates to follow):

Quantitative imaging and analysis (Institut Valrose Biologie, Nice, France)

This course will focus on theoretical and practical aspects of live cell microscopy at high spatial and temporal resolution. The course will focus on wide-field and confocal microscopy approaches to capture rapid as well as long-term processes. Analyses of protein colocalization, protein dynamics, deconvolution and three dimensional reconstruction will be covered. Ideally, ESRs will come with samples relevant to their research projects and will work in small groups with image acquisition and analyses. (1.5 ECTS)

Biophysics and computational modelling in cell biology (TU Dresden, Germany)

This course will provide a basic introduction to biophysical and theoretical approaches to investigating cell biological problems. Quantitative measurements as well as models to design and interpret them, are essential for building our understanding of phenomena such as cytoskeletal mechanics, functioning of ion channels, packaging and replication of nucleic acids, pattern formation, biochemical regulation, membrane structure and dynamics, and cellular motility. Despite the diversity of these phenomena, they can be well-described with just a few governing physical principles. This course introduces these principles and applies them to quantitatively model exciting case studies in cellular structure and dynamics. (1.5 ECTS)

Developmental biology (Institut Curie, Paris, France)

This course will provide the ESRs with a broad overview of the mechanisms of development in different model system organisms. In particular, the course focuses on fundamental mechanisms that drive tissue development such as epithelial polarity, tissue dynamics and architecture. The course is composed of series of lectures given by renowned researchers of the field of development. Students have to present their current PhD project as an oral or poster presentation. (1.5 ECTS)

Tissue mechanics and growth (University College London, UK)

This course will focus on the role of mechanical forces in the control of tissue-level processes such as tissue growth and coordination of cell polarity with tissue dynamics. Students will be familiarized with how physical and mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to how organs are formed and sculpted. Students will learn how mechanical modelling can be integrated with experimental biophysics and genetics to study this topic. (0.5 ECTS)

Deconvolution imaging (SVI, Hilversum, Netherlands)

This day long course organized by the private sector participant SVI will familiarize the ESRs with the use of deconvolution imaging in light microscopy. SVI is the producer of the Huygens software for high-quality restoration, visualization, and analysis options for 2D to 3D-time multi-channel microscopic images. The ESRs will visit with SVI on-site. Included in the course is a seminar on starting and working in a company, including a Q&A session, giving the ESRs an additional opportunity to learn more about a non-academic career.

Innovation and Intellectual Property in Life Sciences

All PhD students will follow a course on skills relevant to the private sector involvement in modern science. Topics will include intellectual property rights, patents and best practices for successful patent application, entrepreneurship, negotiations, innovation as a core task of public institutions, and collaborating in public-private partnerships. (1.5 ECTS).

Career planning workshop and individual coaching (Sarah Blackford, Society for Experimental Biology, UK)

The majority of PhD students and researchers need to consider careers outside of academia. The ESRs will attend a half-day workshop that provides comprehensive guidance on how to make effective career decisions and how to take a proactive approach to planning your next career move. The workshop will be followed by intensive one-to-one coaching for each ESR. The workshop and individual training sessions will be given by professional careers advisor and coach Sarah Blackford, who is head of Education & Public Affairs at the Society for Experimental Biology, which aims to promote experimental biology within society.

Digital Pictures: data integrity and display (Elevate Health & University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands)

The last few years have an increased attention on scientific misconduct. Training of ESRs in proper handling of scientific data is essential to combat mistakes made due to lack of knowledge. The output of scientific experiments often comes in the form of digital images, e.g., scans of Western blots and microscopic images. A disadvantage of data in the form of digital images is that they can, often unintended, be manipulated using computer software in ways that conflict with scientific standards. In this course we will focus on what you can and shouldn’t do to get the best representation of your digital image without altering the actual data. The course will be given online in an interactive way, and ESRs will use their own digital data to put into practice what they have learned. (1 ECTS)

Scientific writing and presenting in English (CNRS, Nice, France)

The course will consist of two three-day workshops, separated by approximately one year. During that year, students engage in short training sessions and interactions conducted via video conferencing or email. The first workshop will teach the basic skills of scientific writing and presenting. The activities performed in the intervening period will focus primarily on scientific writing, and will involve writing of portions of research articles. There will also be activities in which they will be asked to watch and analyse videos of selected research presentations given by prominent scientists, encouraging them to focus on the relative merits of different communication styles. Finally, the second workshop will be dedicated to applied work in which the students will put the acquired skills into practice, both by giving formal oral presentations (of their own work or journal club-type talks) and by writing about their own work. The course will be taught by Prof. Peter Folette, a lecturer who specializes in the teaching of scientific English. (2 ECTS)

Effective Conference Poster Presentations (Elevate Health, Utrecht, Netherlands)

How can you attract the audience’s attention to your research with your poster? This E-learning course focuses on how to give an effective poster presentation at a conference. We will look at the design of an effective poster, the language to use and how to address your audience. You will receive feedback on your poster and your pitch from both your peers and your teacher. (0.5 ECTS)

Yearly network-wide meetings

PolarNet will organize a network-wide symposium or summer school each year, during which all beneficiaries and ESRs meet. PolarNet will organize a kick-off symposium, a summer school, a mid-network symposium, and a closing symposium. (4 ECTS)

(Inter)national Symposia

Attending and presenting at scientific meetings is an important aspect of developing into a mature scientist. PolarNet will require all ESRs to attend at least 2 national or international symposia (outside of the PolarNet organized meetings) during which the ESR gives an oral or poster presentation. One key meeting that will be attented by all PolarNet ESRs is the bi-annual Cell Polarity and Membrane Trafficking meeting. (2 ECTS).

Regular progress meetings and seminar series

Every ESR will attend a weekly research progress meeting with the group of the supervising PI, as well as a regular journal club in which a paper on a topic relevant to the research in the group is discussed. In addition, every ESR is expected to regularly attend international seminars organized by the local graduate programme in which they are enrolled. (4 ECTS).