Successful inspiring STAR PLUS course on Antimicrobials

Review AIMMS Post-graduate Course: “New paradigms targeting resistance against antimicrobials”

12/05/2016 | 3:27 PM

AIMMS organized the second successful edition of the post-graduate course: ‘New paradigms targeting resistance against antimicrobials’, together with UvA partner SILS, from 29 November till 2 December 2016. This year’s course was part of the AIMMS STAR PLUS graduate selection programme. With the MSCA co-funded STAR PLUS graduate programme on Antimicrobial research and resistance, AIMMS will be able to offer the four most outstanding candidates a fully funded PhD position for four years, based on the research projects formulated by the selected international MSc students.

The course kicked off on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November with two hands-on workshops, by Hans Westerhoff and Daan Geerke. Students learned about computational modelling approaches to design anti-resistance strategies at molecular target and network levels.

Scientific Writing
The Scientific and Grant writing session on Wednesday afternoon by Douwe Molenaar and Maartje de Snoo prepared the STAR PLUS candidates and other participants to write and submit a well-written research proposal. After a tour by Jeroen Kool to the analytical facilities on the 6th floor of O|2, the Wednesday was closed off with socializing drinks with AIMMS researchers, as an opportunity to get to know each other.

The scientific lectures started on Thursday 1 December, with an inspiring session by Prof Vandenbroucke-Grauls (VUMC) on ‘Antibiotic resistance and society’, highlighting the strong rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria in the world and associated risks. AIMMS researchers Dirk Bald and Eelco Ruijter presented their ideas on new antimicrobials and targets. During the afternoon sessions, the current NWO STAR PhD students presented an overview of their results after one year and chaired sessions on their research topics. Invited speakers included Joen Luirink, Frank Bruggeman, Wilbert Bitter, Nico Vermeulen, Chris de Graaf (including a 4th floor 3D room visit), Martine Smit (all AIMMS), Arjan de Visser (WUR) and Tanneke den Blaauwen (SILS).

This intensive day was closed off with a pizza dinner followed by a ‘brain hurricane’, led by Hans Westerhoff and Ellen Langemeijer. Everyone was invited to pitch an out-of-the-box idea. What followed was a lively discussion on possible approaches to tackle the problems that exist in Antimicrobial research and resistance.

The scientific lectures were continued on Friday morning with a focus on mimicking evolutionary preferred paths in arising resistance, with lectures by Benno ter Kuile (SILS), Marjon de Vos (WUR) and Anton Feenstra (AIMMS).

The course closed off on Friday afternoon with break-out sessions, during which the STAR PLUS candidates discussed their intended research strategy with senior scientists. The feedback and discussion on their ideas will be of value to help the candidates writing an outstanding research proposal before the spring 2017.

Final remarks
All speakers and course participants, the STAR PLUS candidates and NWO STAR PhD students were highly enthusiastic about the course. We would like to thank all speakers and participants for their valuable contribution. With the ever ongoing challenges that lie within Antimicrobial research and resistance, we anticipate to organize another edition of this course within two years.

Antimicrobial Course 2016 1AIMMS Antimicrobial Course 29 Nov – 2 Dec 2016 Part of the group, including the 7 STAR PLUS candidates present in Amsterdam, some of the AIMMS STAR and other PhD students, Course leaders Hans Westerhoff and Ellen Langemeijer, and Maartje de Snoo (AIMMS).