Weekend seminar
   

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Weekend seminar for the ECN-Students

Weekend seminar for the ECN-Students: At the crossroads of their studies
By Dominik Kraus

After five months of intense studies mainly focusing on theoretical and basic methodological aspects of “Experimental and clinical neurosciences” the last weekend of February was used by the ECN students to prepare for the upcoming challenges during the second part of their master studies: The project internships. Therefore, the focus of the weekend, held in the stunning ambience of the Bavarian forest, was the development of our own ideas for future research proposals.
To help us tackle this issue the organizers were able to entice two real experts in the field of Neuroscience. Prof. Dr. Rainer Landgraf from the Max-Plank-Institute for Psychiatry in Munich who presented data on genetically- versus epigenetically-driven behaviour and Dr. John Cryan from the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at the University College Cork, Ireland, who discussed a stress-based model of co-morbid depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In addition, Dr. David Slattery and Dr. Stefan Reber from the University of Regensburg gave lectures on stress and its implication in neurogenesis and different physiological and immunological parameters. These presentations were then used as a starting point for the students to design their own ideas for following up the recent finding in those fields.
During the process of developing new approaches they were always in close interaction with the lecturers who gave excellent support. Therefore, this was probably an unique chance for us students to learn directly from outstanding scientists about the kind of approach that might be suited for underlining a certain hypothesis and, maybe even more importantly, what problems can be avoided right from the beginning. The subsequent presentation and discussion of the proposals completed the official scientific part of the weekend seminar.

Naturally, the nearby Bavarian Forest National Park and the Arber ski resort demanded the organizers of the weekend seminar, Prof. Inga Neumann, Dr. Erwin van den Burg and Dr. David Slattery from the Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, to provide an adequate amount of leisure time for both, the students and the speakers. While some hiked through the winter landscape a second group headed towards the ski-lifts during the free afternoons. These activities especially and the fact that we were together as a group for the whole weekend further strengthened the company among us students. 

The relaxed atmosphere in the evening provided the perfect opportunity to have informal scientific chitchat with the speakers and so we had some more important lectures about the “world” we are about to enter. Of course, our experiences from the last few months during the ECN-Program were also discussed among the students, teachers and guest speakers. Expectations for the coming ECN-year and even beyond were shared and to me it was pretty amazing to see how different fields of interests have already evolved  during the first part of the program and how everyone plans to pursuit his or her scientific career at this transition point  within the ECN-program. 
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