The ambition of the VIB Center for Cancer Biology (CCB) is to contribute to a better understanding of the biology that underlies cancer initiation, progression and metastatic dissemination with the ultimate goal to develop more effective and specific anti-cancer (combination) therapies.
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The VRC is committed to provide professional training to pre- and post-doctoral students in preparation for a future research career in academia or industry.
- Running a research Project: Learning how to do research productively, timely and competetively and focus on priorities is of utmost importance for the future success of independent junior scientists. Therefore, postdocs and PhD students are actively stimulated to participate in the conceptual design, reading of the literature (a literature search overview is monthly provided to them on an intranet server), critical interpretation of the data, and resultant planning of the projects. Knowledge, rather than diploma, rank, gender or seniority, constitutes the basis for scientific discussions; scientific innovation and creativity are greatly encouraged, highly respected and awarded. Junior scientists are initially advised, but subsequently challenged to design their own research. Regularly, a (senior) postdoc teams up with a (junior) PhD or Master student and receives the responsibility to micro-manage the project. Such team work offers a number of advantages: the postdoc learns how to supervise the student, micro-manage his/her own small group (including technicians), while the student receives daily input and close supervision. By teaming up postdocs and students with complementary expertise and background, exchange of information is increased and productivity is enhanced – allowing students and postdocs to achieve a higher level of quality and larger output of their research, and obtain more visible publications. Postdocs and PhD students are also stimulated to set up collaborations with external research groups.
- Seminars & Journal Clubs: The VRC regularly organizes seminars by inviting speakers, at which occasions pre- and postdoctoral students are invited to present and discuss their own research as well. Recent landmark publications are discussed at weekly Journal clubs.
- Writing and Reviewing grants & publications: Learning how to seek and acquire funding is essential for the future career of a young independent investigator. Postdocs and PhD students are therefore stimulated, already early in their training at the VRC, to participate and contribute to the writing of research grants – this helps them to write, focus their research, and think carefully about their future experiments. To expand their training, PhD students and postdocs often participate in the writing of reviews and/or editorials. By assisting senior scientists in reviewing papers and grant applications, PhD students and postdocs learn how to become appreciative of quality research and critical for their own research.
- Communicating research findings: Equally important is that junior scientist learn how to give presentations and communicate their work to the scientific community. As a policy, participation to international scientific meetings is stimulated and supported (costs of 1 meeting/yr are covered) and, regularly, postdocs and PhD students are offered the opportunity to replace senior scientists at (inter)national meetings. PhD students and postdocs regularly present their data at interactive lab meetings. In addition, there are regular VRC seminars where students and postdocs present an overview of their work.
- Collaborations with Academia and Industry: Since competetive translational biomedical research is, often, interdisciplinary and complex, the VRC has a longstanding and active tradition of setting up (inter)national collaborations. To advance a project, learn new techniques and transfer this knowledge to the VRC, postdocs, PhD students and technicians alike are regularly sent on a short-term mission to external laboratories. Junior scientists also learn how to interact with industry, not only in writing grants together, but also in performing valorization projects. They also acquire skills and knowledge in Technology & Transfer, intellectual property, etc.