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More than 300 people ready to discuss cross-disciplinary research

More than 300 researchers from the Department of Clinical Medicine have reserved an afternoon and evening in November to tell each other about what they are currently working on. The hope is to plant ideas for research projects across fields of study – the vice-dean for research hopes for more interdisciplinary initiatives.

2017.11.02 | Nanna Jespersgård

Søren Dinesen Østergaard has helped to devise and subsequently organise The 1st Annual Research Meeting. He is convinced that the event will lead to a number of new research partnerships that would otherwise not have happened.

Head of Departement Kristjar Skajaa sees the many registrations as a sign in the stars that clinical researchers have become more aware of the direction in which things are moving.

322 curious people, 175 poster presentations, 20 flash talks and a handful of presentations by specially invited senior researchers. All among the ingredients for when the Department of Clinical Medicine holds its first large-scale interdisciplinary researcher meeting in a fortnight’s time. In addition to making everyone a little wiser, the 1st Annual Research Meeting also aims to establish ties. See the programme also.

"We are currently seeing the cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approach turn up many important research results. This is reason enough for us to want to create the possibility for clinical researchers who come from very different fields of study to meet in a context that invites both professional and informal discussion," says Kristjar Skajaa, head of the Department of Clinical Medicine, well aware that there is no guarantee that, for example, an obesity researcher, a psychiatrist and a cardiologist get together for an interdisciplinary research project just because the department brings them together in the same room. 

"On the other hand, if we do not try then nothing will happen and the many registrations show there is significant interest in spending time on one another’s research areas. I see it as a sign in the stars that clinical researchers have become more aware of the direction in which things are moving," says Kristjar Skajaa.

Ideas cannot be forced – but then again

Associate Professor Søren Dinesen Østergaard from the Research Unit for Psychoses at Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov has the same idea. He has helped to devise and subsequently organise The 1st Annual Research Meeting.

"322 registered participants is a signal that this is something researches do not want to miss. Of course, no one can schedule Tuesday 14 November between 15:30 - 20:00 as the time when we will have ideas for interdisciplinary research projects, because that is not how the brain functions – but then again," says Søren Dinesen Østergaard. 

"If we are ever going to have an idea for an interdisciplinary research project, then it is necessary to have some knowledge of what the department's other researchers are engaged in. Her at the Department of Clinical Medicine we face a challenge because of the department’s size and geographical spread, which in itself is a good reason to actually meet face-to-face so we can share knowledge," says Søren Dinesen Østergaard.

In Søren Dinesen Østergaard's own experience, one of the good things with this type of event is precisely that this is where good ideas and new collaborations happen. Not necessarily on the day itself, where people are bombarded with new knowledge, but in the following weeks and months. 

"I am convinced that the event will lead to a number of new research partnerships that would otherwise not have happened. We will hopefully see some examples at The 2nd Annual Research Meeting in 2018, as we hope it will become an annual event," says Søren Dinesen Østergaard.

The goal is knowledge sharing, not coronations!

On the day, the concept is for the specially invited senior researchers to initially present their large-scale, often prestigious projects under the heading 'If I knew back then what I know now, what would I have done differently?'. The presentations will be held in the afternoon in lecture theatre A, where participants can for example hear Professor Ole Mors from psychiatry hold a talk with the title ”240+ million DKK spent – Lessons learnt from the largest Danish psychiatric research project to date”. 

Other speakers include Professor Therese Ovesen from Regional Hospital Holstebro with a talk entitled “Keys to establish a research unit in the 'wild' west", as well as Professor Tobias Wang, whose field is zoophysiology at the department for Department of Bioscience. He will adhere to the interdisciplinary spirit of the occasion and tell the clinical researchers about "Clinical benefits from Zoophysiology: Pythons as an alternative animal model to study the transition from fasting to binge-feeding”.

"The idea behind these presentations is for us to learn from the very best, but without the concept becoming 'hero worship'. It can be beneficial for junior researchers to hear about the mistakes that experienced senior researchers also make," says Søren Dinesen Østergaard. 

He adds that the organisers are currently collecting poster boards from the entire region so they can show all of the registered posters. 

"We as organisers are also impressed with the very high level of the submitted abstracts. You cannot avoid feeling proud of all the research that is taking place in our department. I think that the participants will leave the 1st Annual Research Meeting with the same feeling, together with a good helping of inspiration for new research projects," says Søren Dinesen Østergaard.

Nothing but praise from the vice-dean

From his position in the Dean’s Office, Vice-dean for Research Ole Steen Nielsen has nothing but praise for the initiative, which he hopes can inspire the other departments. 

"Biomedicine has its own pizza meetings, and in two weeks the Department of Clinical Medicine will reap the first experiences from supporting interdisciplinary research on a larger scale - and what’s more, with tremendous support from 322 registered participants. I can only encourage everyone around the faculty to let themselves be inspired and to incorporate and systematise the interdisciplinary approach," says Ole Steen Nielsen. 

Further information:

Søren Dinesen Østergaard
MD, PhD, associate professor and one of the organisers.
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University and
Psychosis Research Unit, Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov.
Mobile: (+45) 6128 2753
Email: soeoes@rm.dk

Linda Ibsen
Secretariat manager and one of the organisers.
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
Telephone: (+45) 7845 9002
Email: libs@clin.au.dk

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