'New paradigms targeting resistance against antimicrobials' inspiring course

post-graduate STAR course review

11/10/2014 | 4:17 PM

The 30th and 31st of October, AIMMS together with its UvA partner SILS, organized the post-graduate STAR course: ‘New paradigms targeting resistance against antimicrobials’. This course is associated with The AIMMS-NWO STAR program on the same topic, the core of which will be four PhD research projects formulated and then executed by excellent (STAR) MSc students.

The course started with an inspiring lecture given by Prof Vandenbroucke-Grauls (VUMC) on ‘Antibiotic resistance and society’, highlighting the strong rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria around us. AIMMS and SILS researchers then presented their ideas on new antimicrobial(target)s and on new ways of understanding and preventing resistance. This included seven of the STAR students presenting their ideas, first in a short flash and then (the next day) in a longer presentation of their intended research strategy. Most of the 30 participants used the opportunity to engage in hands-on antimicrobial research in silico, in two tutorials on protein structure and network modeling.

In the evening of the 30th, Prof McFadden (University of Surrey, UK) gave an inspiring lecture on his multidisciplinary research into TB. His talk developed into a discussion with the participants on the interpretation of an intriguing set of experimental results.

This was followed by a ‘brain hurricane’ where various participants came with new ideas on how to prevent resistance against antimicrobials, which were then scrutinized by all present. Friday afternoon brought another novelty: each STAR student discussing her/his research proposal ideas in detail with a committee of experts (Profs Vandenbroucke-Grauls and McFadden, a key PhD student and 7 AIMMS-SILS staff members) in one-on-two conversations. 

The PhD students, much including those from the UvA, were highly enthusiastic about the course and were asking avidly when the next such course will be. This was finally a course where both VUA and UvA contributed at all levels including MSc and PhD, also creating an Amsterdam-science community.

Also the two keynote lecturers participated enthusiastically in all the discussions, giving highly valuable advice also to the STAR students for their projects. Some participants were ‘intrigued by the fundamental puzzles encountered when thinking about more effective management of resistance’. As the participants felt this should be an annual course, AIMMS is considering to re-run it next year alongside the then active STAR research program.