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EU grant provides 250 new work years for MED

The Faculty of Medicine has received funding for a new, major international postdoctoral programme – Scientia Fellows II – in which both career development for young and promising researchers and innovation are important cornerstones. Major partners from the health industry are collaborating partners.

Dean Frode Vartdal and Vice Dean Hilde Nebb. Photo: Øystein Horgmo/UiO

The programme builds on the success of Scientia Fellows, which has led to the creation of the two career development programmes School of Health Innovation and the Postdoctoral Programme. Scientia Fellows II will focus more on innovation than the first programme had, and will also be facilitated by closer collaboration with the business world.

– This is huge! – both for the Faculty and for the University of Oslo! The grant means that talented international postdoctoral researchers will be attracted to the research communities of the Faculty of Medicine and more Norwegians will be given the opportunity to travel abroad to work. Furthermore, Scientia Fellows II boosts interfaculty cooperation, and collaboration with the healthcare industry and business, says Hilde Nebb, Vice Dean of Research and Innovation.

With the funded programme, the Faculty gets 250 work years over a five-year period. The scheduled start-up is in 2019, when the Scientia Fellows II programme takes over from its forerunner – Scientia Fellows – which ends the same year. More than 80 scientists have been affiliated with the latter programme since its start in 2014.

– The fact that for the second time we have a major grant from the EU in keen competition with others is a sign that the Faculty and our research groups are competitive internationally, a pleased Dean Frode Vartdal said.

Scientia Fellows: See selected highlights from 2017

Focus on value creation

– Scientia Fellows II will focus on quality research and career development, as did our first programme, but it also responds to a need that our health researchers want filled today, namely closer interaction and cooperation with industry and business clusters to bolster value creation through the research we conduct, Nebb says.

She stresses that close contact with patients needing better treatment is a strong driver for innovation. This has resulted in the establishment of a number of new health firms in recent years. Nevertheless, there is a huge unrealized potential that we hope the Scientia Fellows II programmed can help to strengthen.

– With Scienta Fellows II, both our young scientists and supervisors will be able to enhance cooperation with industry and business clusters and help to realize good ideas in the best interests of patients to create value and more jobs, she says.

A key element of the new programme is closer cooperation with the health and business sectors. Some of the partners are South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Norway Health Tech,Thermo Fisher, AstraZeneca and industrial clusters in Norway and Europe.

– There are many reasons why I wanted to start Scientia Fellows. The first was the desire to increase the mobility of young Norwegian scientists abroad, as it is so important for young people’s careers, says Nebb.

Furthermore, Nebb wanted to attract young, strong scientists from abroad and enhance internationalization at the Faculty of Medicine. These young scientists bring with them research networks and knowledge that enrich the research being done on the faculty.

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

Many professionals have helped to make Scientia Fellows a reality, both within the Faculty and among its partners.

– Scientia Fellows has been a pioneering effort in many ways. Never before has there been a programme like this at the university, so in that respect, we have blazed a new trail. Thanks to the persistent efforts of our scientists, the support of the departments and administrative staff of the entire faculty, we have managed to implement this very successfully. With the new Scientia Fellows II initiative, we build on the solid work already invested, says Nebb.

A multidisciplinary team, led by the vice dean, worked on the application for the Scientia Fellows II project for more than a year. In addition, postdoctoral researchers from the Scientia Fellows programme and representatives from South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority and the business community have submitted input for the application.

– A catalyst

Dean Frode Vartdal believes a new round of Scientia Fellows will strengthen the Faculty of Medicine even further.

– Most of all, this programme means that many already strong research groups can give themselves a significant boost, and this contributes to the Faculty's international profile and makes it much stronger, Vartdal says.

– Since quality is in many ways ‘contagious’, we are also witnessing that more and more research groups are raising their ambitions and achievements. To put it another way, I think that the Scientia Fellows programmes are a catalyst for improving the quality of all research done in the faculty, he concludes.

The Research Council of Norway also mentions the EU grant given to the new Scientia Fellows on its web pages. The Director General of the Research Council, John-Arne Røttingen, encourages more applicants to take advantage of the same opportunity.

– I would like to congratulate the Faculty of Medicine at UiO on the prestigious funding they have succeeded in getting from the MSCA Cofund scheme for the Scientia Fellows programme. The Scientia Fellows program is an excellent initiative and shows how the Faculty works systematically both to recruit skilled young researchers and to acquire partial funding from the European Union. The Research Council encourages more Norwegian institutions at department or faculty level, to look at the opportunities to do the same thing, Røttingen writes in an article posted on the Research Council’s web pages.

Published Mar. 9, 2018 9:42 AM - Last modified Mar. 9, 2018 2:32 PM