The INTPART project Bergen-Harvard Cancer Studies: A Partnership for Excellent Education and Research was established in 2016 as a collaboration between CCBIO, the Vascular Biology Program (VBP) at Boston Childrens Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Kennedy School. The collaborative activities have been successful, strengthening research education and collaborative activities between the partners. Phase 1 of the project was intended to strengthen the masters and PhD level education and international collaboration through partnerships with world-class institutions. This was completed through several successful activities, including a course in cancer-related vascular biology, a scientific writing seminar, special seminars and workshops, a lab visit program, and a Network Research Meeting.
In phase 2 of the INTPART project, CCBIO will continue all activities from phase 1, and expand its scope in order to further strengthen responsible education, cancer research and innovation through long-term international cooperation. With the main goal for phase 2, possibly also influence national and international environments focused on health politics and policy. CCBIO's focus on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is now to be fully integrated in all project activities.
The PhD course "Cancer research: Ethical, economic and social aspects" (CCBIO903; 5 ECTS) has been held a number of times, most recently during the fall 2021. The course is the only of its kind within cancer education in Norway, and gives an important contributions towards the students? ability to reflect and reason around ethics, economy and to make other societal considerations regarding their own research project.
The INTPART course CCBIO908: Scientific Writing and Communication (2017/19/20/21; 2 ECTS) was established in the phase-1 project and will be continued in the phase 2 project. It has been a very successful course, with a high level of attendance. Participation increased further with the offer of digital teaching in 2020 and 2021, especially by candidates from Nordic PhD programs outside of Norway.
In terms of curriculum development, two CCBIO books have been published as part of the Phase 1 project. Two more books are being elaborated, based on ELSA / RRI and the biomedical and clinical CCBIO environments respectively (expected publication in 2021/2022).
The research community at Harvard is arguably the leading and most innovative in the world within cancer research and development, and phase 2 of the project will contribute to the innovation capacity of Norwegian cancer research by learning from the close and productive collaborative relationships between academia and medical industry in the Boston area. As part of this effort, CCBIO will introduce the new course Health Innovation (5 ECTS), where topics within innovation and entrepreneurship are communicated. The course will be held for the first time in November-December 2021, with significant contributions from local, national, and our international partners.
The lab visit program, where students from CCBIO (UiB) stay 8-12 week stay in research groups at our INTPART partner, the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School, was established in phase 1 of the project, and will be continued. Due to the pandemic, no lab visits were possible in 2020-2021. The pandemic allowing, we will re-activate the lab visit program in 2022. Also, the CCBIO-VBP Research Meeting, held in Iceland in 2019, has been postponed from 2021 to tentatively August 2022.
Our INTPART phase 2 activities have generally been strongly affected by pandemic restrictions, with no face-to-face interaction allowed. We have however made good use of digital tools, retaining much activity online in 2020 and 2021. From the autumn of 2021, we will establish hybrid solutions for most courses, aiming to retain the ground gained in international participations, while also regaining the advantages of in-person participation. As most Norwegian COVID restrictions are now abolished, and a gradual reopening is expected in the USA, we aim to re-establish the full array of INTPART activities in 2022, including lab visits.
Through this project proposal, the Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO and Vascular Biology Program, a world-class department from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine aim to reinforce and expand the partnership on integrated excellent education and research, promoting a sustainable strong partnership. During the Phase-1 project, we achieved strengthened research education at master and PhD levels; increased the student and faculty mobility; and increased international research collaboration. With the aim of strengthened responsible cancer research, innovation and research education in the Phase-2 project, we consolidate and strengthen the success activities from the Phase-1: Cancer-Related Vascular Biology course (6 ECTS), Scientific Writing Seminar and seminars on mentoring and career development. We continue the successful Lab visit program, where students from CCBIO have participated in Harvard research groups (6-12 weeks). Seminars on research dissemination and communication are developed in Phase-2. Also, a novel course initiative is presented in Phase-2: Innovation in Cancer Research. Further, we aim for a gradual transition from RRI as a parallel activity to biomedical activities, to RRI constituting an integral part of research and educational activities.
The CCBIO-INTPART project clearly gives added value to higher education and research at our institution, also with added effects to the partner institution. Strengthened ELSA/RRI collaborations and integration is expected to impact national and international health policy environments, truly strengthening the impact of CCBIO research and education well beyond the university community. The inclusion and active integration of junior group leaders at both sides of the partnership in the Phase-2 project, enables and support long-term perspectives and sustainability in the partnerships, and the increased female ratio of project participants promote sustainable gender balance.
INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research