BrainTrain KickOff meeting 29-31/10/2010 Amsterdam

During the three days from Friday, the 29th of Oct. 2010, until Sunday, the 31th of Oct. 2010, all BrainTrain-students, the organising committee and a majority of the supervisors met in Amsterdam for the KickOff meeting of the BrainTrain project.

Friday, 29/10/10

After the sovereign circumnavigation of  some technical difficulties by Evelyn, Karen and Heidi, the KickOff meeting was opened by Peter Heutink at the VU in Amsterdam. The lecture by Pieter Heuting about the missing heritability and causality was followed by a lecture from Guus Smit explaining elegantly the meaning of ‘systems biology’ and a lecture by Heidi de Wit, who impressed the audience with her amazing research findings, her 5-star price-winning experience in prague and subliminaly enhanced the audience’s appetite for lunch. The lunch, including milk rolls filled with raisins, lovingly prepared by the VU catering service, in combination with some fresh coffee, restored potential physiological energy deficits, so that everyone was looking forward to the second third of the first day.

In the laboratories of Rhiannon Meredith and Oliver Stiedl the students were introduced to methods like 2-photon microscopy, Ca-imaging, telemetric measurements and behavioral tests. Another coffee break, sponsored by Evelyn’s ‘chipknip’-card, was followed by a workshop on social media by Annet van Betuw. During this workshop the significance of social media in the modern, globalized world was vividly explained to the flabbergasted students, using a new kind of presentation-technique called ‘prezi’. Also it was tried several times to clarify the use of this weblog, but it seems that there are still some open issues.

The social event of this first day offered again some difficulties to Evelyn (mainly caused by public transport), but again she justified her reputation as one of the best EU-managers worldwide.  Authentic dutch food (including hutch-potch and vla-flip) and strong belgian beer left a comfy impression and prepared everyone for some hours of recreative sleep.

Saturday, 30/10/10

As soon as everyone had made it to the man-made island called ‘Ijburg’ in the north of Amsterdam and found the wonderful meeting-location called ‘L63’, Matthijs Verhage gave a warm welcome to the students, their supervisors and the organisers. Several lectures followed, to elucidate the work of the partners in the BrainTrain project, their particular contribution to the project and how everyone is going to work together during the next 3-4 years. This time lunch consisted of hot tomato-soup and organical sandwhiches, what brought up some disappointment, because most of the students fell in love with dutch milk rolls the day before. Lectures were given by: Peter Heutink, Piero Carnici, Guus Smit, Eckhart Gundelfinger, Helena Danielson, Heidi de Wit, Angus Silver, Thomas Kuner, Rhiannon Meredith, Claudia Bagni, Oliver Stiedl and Christian Gutzen. After some administrative issues were mentioned in front of the students, so that they were able to ruminate about them during the next years, the students were sent away to give the supervisors, senior-researchers and organisers some privacy.

The social event of this evening combined a channel cruise in Amsterdam with some kind of restaurant hopping. Again, excellent food in both restaurants and belgian beer brought people together and helped perfectly to build a fundation for real-life social and scientific networking.

Sunday, 31/10/10

Despite the fact that this Sunday everyone was already quite exhausted after 2 days of intensive introduction, the students gave excellent talks providing information about their scientific background, the planned time-line of their work during the next 3-4 years and their contribution to BrainTrain. Unfortunately, the magnificient lunch did not got the deserved appreciation, due to the fact that everyone was eager to return home and get some rest.

Conclusion:

Please provide some comments! For example, I think we need some kind of mailing lists and a password protected area within this weblog. Also, a FAQ for frequently asked questions regarding traveling, reimbursements,… would be helpful I guess, but of course also password protected.

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