For the 10th time, scientists at Umeå University met for the UCMR (Umeå Centre for Microbial Research) annual retreat on the 10th of January 2019.
Around 130 participants had accepted the invitation and attended the UCMR Day 2019 at Bergasalen, Norrland University Hospital. In his introduction, UCMR Director Bernt Eric Uhlin recalled the vision that the initial UCMR Consortium of 15 Principal Investigators formulated more than 10 years ago when launching a joint scientific programme: “To establish a world-leading and sustainable science environment promoting cutting-edge biomedical research in molecular infection medicine at Umeå University”. The UCMR programme was in 2008 selected for funding during ten years by the Swedish Research Council (VR) as the UCMR Linnaeus Programme. A decade later, the evaluation of all the Linnaeus centres is on the agenda of VR and BEU informed about the time plan of the evaluation during 2019 and gave a resumé over the last 10 years of UCMR activities.
Participants of the 10th UCMR DAY, 10th January 2019. (Photo: Eva-Maria Diehl)
The UCMR Consortium from 2008 has expanded as a network over the years and today’s UCMR comprises more than 50 research groups. Within the UCMR Postdoctoral Programme, so far 53 postdocs were recruited in a unique joint recruitment process involving a large number of the PIs. An important focus among the UCMR activities has been the establishment and support of cutting edge research infrastructures, e.g. for chemical biology and microscopy (LCBU/CBCS, BICU, UCEM/Cryo-EM). From the UCMR Gender Policy Support Programme there has been awards given so far to nine female PIs to promote their research during an early phase in their careers. By organizing workshops, conferences and courses, the interdisciplinary collaborations and approaches have been supported and resulted in new successful research collaborations and funding of new projects. More than 500 MSEK in competitive external funding, not including all the individual external project grants, has been received at Umeå University for the joint activities as the results of successful grant proposals coordinated by UCMR scientists during the last decade. From 2008 to 2013 the VR funded UCMR Research School organized courses and workshops for PhD students and postdocs. This UCMR programme was initiated by Debra Milton and continued by the UCMR scientific secretary, Åke Forsberg, who since 2013 also is coordinating the similarly VR funded National Doctoral Programme in Infections and Antibiotics.
The 10th UCMR Day included lectures by young investigators, selected from submitted poster abstracts, by new group leaders and collaborators. From Karolinska Institutet, UCMR visiting professor alumna Birgitta Henriques Normark and Staffan Normark presented their latest research results on severe infections of the lung and, nt of new antimicrobial strategies.
Also this year, young investigators at the level of PhD students and postdocs were selected for the best poster presentations to receive an award as UCMR Ambassador. The award consists of 25.000 SEK in support for travel and active participation at scientific conferences of their choice. This year’s awardees were: Kemal Avican (group Maria Fällman), Selma Dahmane (group Lars-Anders Carlson) and Andy Dernstedt (group Matthias Forsell).
A new feature in this years’ UCMR DAY was a discussion session aimed at collecting ideas and views on current and future UCMR activities. In discussion groups, the participants were asked to comment on UCMR activities and suggest future plans.
After 12 hours meeting the UCMR DAY was closed in the late evening.
The UCMR Ambassadors 2019 with evaluation committee members and the UCMR Directors. From left: Barbara Sixt, Elisabeth Sauer-Eriksson, Kemal Avican, Selma Dahmane, and Andy Dernstedt, Bernt Eric Uhlin and Jonas Barandun. (Missing on the picture: Ellen Bushell, member of the evaluation committee, Photo: Eva-Maria Diehl)