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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Bergen-Harvard Cancer Studies: A Partnership for Excellent Education and Research

Alternative title: Bergen-Harvard Kreftstudier: Et partnerskap for fremragende utdanning og forskning

Awarded: NOK 4.0 mill.

The SFF Center for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO) at the UiB and two world-leading institutes at Harvard School of Medicine and Harvard Kennedy School, have through their INTPART partnership established a collaboration where outstanding education and research has been closely integrated. We would like to highlight the new courses Cancer-Related Vascular Biology (CCBIO907; 6 ECTS), held in 2018 and 2020, giving students a unique opportunity to interact with world-leading researchers in cancer research and vascular biology, and Scientific Writing and Communication (CCBIO908; 2ECTS ), which was held 2017/19/20/21. Both courses received very good feedback and high attendance with up to 300 participants. Digital teaching in 2020-21 led to increased participation from Nordic students, enriching the students discourse. In the autumn of 2021, courses will be held in a digitally-physically format where possible. Existing courses from CCBIO's Research School for Cancer Studies (RSCS) have also been further developed with contributions from our partners. All INTPART activities are fully integrated with RSCS, and all courses are open to both master's and PhD students. Several joint mini symposia, half day- or full day events, are held as part of our project, e.g. on Excellence in Science and The Importance of Mentoring for Career Development. These cover generic skills, are thematically unique at the UiB, and have been well attended, also beyond our own faculty. In 2018-19, six master- and PhD students benefited from 8-12 week stays with research groups at the Vascular Biology Program (VBP), Harvard. The same was planned for 2020-21 but was postponed due to the pandemic. The ELSA/RRI team's visit program was implemented in early 2020. In 2019, we conducted the CCBIO-VBP Research Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, a natural middle point between Bergen and Boston. The meeting?s overall aim was to strengthen the collaboration between CCBIO and our Harvard partners, and stimulate network activities among and between researchers and students. Mutual research presentations, teaching sessions and workshops within ELSA/RRI topics, biomedicine and pedagogy were given. Themes from the ELSA/RRI group were well integrated into the meeting activities and provided important input to the further work of integrating ELSA/RRI into all the INTPART and graduate school activities. Several new international collaborative projects were initiated, and joint educational activities were planned. Both the CCBIO and Harvard colleagues reported having benefitted greatly from the integrated ELSA/RRI component, and we consider the meeting to have been a success. In December 2020, we held the workshop «Applying design principles to schematic figures». In terms of curriculum development, a highlight is two books, published in 2017 and in pre-print in 2021, with significant contributions from our partners. Furthermore, the ELSA part of the project has conducted several academic meetings (S.Net Preconference on Ethics of Cancer; S.Net keynote lecture by Harvard Professor Sheila Jasanoff; and a CCBIO special session on biomarkers at an S.Net conference). In 2020, the preparation of an updated anthology on ethical and social aspects of biomarkers for cancer has been a focus for the ELSA team. "Cancer research: Ethical, economic and social aspects" (CCBIO903; 5 ETCS) has been held several times, most recently in the fall term of 2021. The course is the only one of its kind in the context of cancer research education in Norway, and makes important contributions to students' reflection on ethics, economics, and other societal aspects in relation to their own research project. All students included in the project are integrated into ongoing research with academic publications as the planned end product. Earmarked external funding for INTPART-integrated master student projects (from the Olav Thon Foundation) provides more resources for student-initiated research, which provides synergies with the current INTPART project. The project has development of new forms of expertise in Norwegian academia as a long-term goal, for example the integration of curriculum with a focus on generic skills within ethics, law and societal aspects (ELSA). The project also provides a stronger international educational and research collaboration, thereby overall improving Norwegian master- and PhD students' education, and in particular their generic skills. This will also improve students' opportunities to acquire partners and hosts stays abroad. Several of our international partners are now employed in adjunct positions at the UiB, and contribute to CCBIO's research and teaching activities, aiming for joint applications for research funding where PhD and master students conduct research and are intended for co-authorship. All in all, we are confident that our INTPART project increases the likeliness of strong research results in Norway within the relevant fields.

Our project is focused on stronger integration of high-level research and education, and in actively bridging the divide between master- and PhD level education. It has contributed to making high-level educational efforts more interesting for high level researchers, who has established/improved courses and other educational activities at a level otherwise unattainable. This benefits master- and PhD students, with spillover to other groups. Stronger integration between biomedical curriculum and ELSA has clearly contributed towards development of new forms of combined- and cross disciplinary expertise. Short research stays supplement existing students exchange mechanisms, improving students' opportunities to acquire international partners, also resulting in efficient transfer of skills directly from high-level international research groups. Our project has increased the likeliness of strong research results occurring in Norway, in the short and long term.

Through this proposal, the Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO and two world class departments from the Harvard School of Medicine and Harvard Kennedy School aim to establish a long term partnership where excellent education is to be fully embedded in excellent research. Existing courses from CCBIO Research School will be developed to include lecturers from Harvard and new courses developed. All courses will be launched also on the master level, ensuring full integration of students from the Medical Student Research Program and other master level students. All students that have relevant backgrounds will be integrated into CCBIOs and the partners ongoing research with academic publications as the final goal. A high degree of student and faculty mobility will be established. This will result in improved education and the development of new types of expertise into Norwegian academia, e.g. ELSA curricula into the professional training of research education of tomorrows cancer physicians, researchers and policy-makers. It will also result in deeper research collaboration, which will in its turn improve the educational track of Norwegian master students. The increased contact and mobility will also improve the PhD students possibilities of getting collaborators and relevant hosts for their stays abroad. We will establish several adjunct positions with staff from our partners, paving the way for more joint applications for research funding for PhDs and students to perform research and being co-authors on papers. We expect that the closer collaboration with our partners will result in CCBIO becoming an even more attractive partner for industry actors. ELSA collaboration is also foreseen to continue and expand on dissemination and training with national and international health policy environments, including the European Union and the Council of Europe, thus strengthening the impact of CCBIO research and education well beyond the university community.

Funding scheme:

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research