It is important to work out mechanisms that facilitate the successful development of a new generation of scientists. In particular, it is crucial to support and coach the scientists during the early phases of their careers so that they can rapidly build internationally competitive research groups. StratNeuro brings together initiatives to enhance the career opportunities for young researchers.
StratNeuro support to the research training programme
Building on the existing doctoral programme in neuroscience, efforts have been made to form a better and more integrated doctoral programme with a student network, Neuroscience Research Training Programme. At present 178 doctoral students are enrolled in this programme. Funding from StratNeuro has been used to improve several aspects of the quality of the training.
(i) Starting from fall 2012 the course curriculum has been improved and expanded. It now includes a new set of yearly courses covering fundamental aspects of neuroscience (neuroanatomy, brain circuits, cognitive neuroscience, neurogenetics, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurodegenerative disorders). During fall 2014 the six given courses are; The developing brain, Brain circuits, Frontiers in cognitive neuroscience, Brain development, Neurogenetics and Neurodegenerative disorders. In addition, a set of specialised courses are given approximately every second year.
(ii) Support for network activities has been provided. A yearly winter conference for doctoral students is supported by StratNeuro in addition to the StratNeuro retreat. Grants have also been made available to support book clubs, poster sessions and invitations of lecturers.
(iii) A programme to support new techniques and mobility has been established. Doctoral students are invited to apply for travel grants to visit foreign laboratories to learn new techniques, and to attend international courses.
StratNeuro and the doctoral programme in neuroscience have also acted to improve the quality of the recruitment of doctoral students. Importantly, it has been difficult for prospective students to conduct laboratory rotations prior to applying for a doctoral position. Starting from fall 2012 a new international recruitment course (Advanced course in neuroscience) is arranged. It contains a theoretical part (6 weeks) followed by laboratory projects (14 weeks). Moreover, recruitment from the masters programme in biomedicine at Karolinska Institutet has been improved. The neuroscience section in the 1st year has been restructured and a neuroscience-track for the 2nd year has been initiated. The neuroscience-track begins with a theoretical part (6 weeks) followed by laboratory projects (10 + 20 weeks). The fact that the selection of doctoral students at Karolinska Institutet is done by the individual PIs emphasizes the importance of giving opportunities for laboratory rotations.