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Report from the NORBIS summer school 2019

21. August, 2019

A great week at the University of Tromsø!
 
We started the week with an in-depth perspective into the importance of metabolomics, courtesy of our guest lecturer Hans Stenlund from the Swedish Metabolomic Centre, university of Umeå. He ensured we gained a detailed understanding of how we can attempt to study and capture the metabolome, and most importantly, analyse the resulting data!
 
Our evenings allowed us to regain some energy spent understanding these complicated concepts, first of all with an invigorating hike (or cable car ride) up Fløya mountain, and secondly, with a very competitive (and fun) round of mini-golf and beers and Storgata Camping.
 
On top of Fløya mountain. Photo: Joseph Diab
 
The third day was spent recuperating from both the drinks and the metabolomics, as we delved into proteomics; translating some of the concepts into reality with a fascinating visit to the proteomics lab at UiT’s IFA.
 
   
Photo: Joseph Diab
 
Thursday was the last day of lectures, where Ines and Joseph tied the week together by covering systems biology and pathway modelling/analysis as a whole, and we spent our last evening together having pizza and drinks, migrating from Pepe’s pizza to Tromsø’s historical Ølhallen.
 
Ines Heiland giving a presentation. Pizza in the sun! Photo: Joseph Diab
 
On the last day, Friday, I think we all had a lot of new information to take in and were feeling inspired to apply the theory that we had learnt during the week. This was especially clear when listening to the presentations which some brave attendees had volunteered to give, showing us what they had put together in the practical sessions during the week.
 
All in all, the summer school had a very enjoyable, informal and friendly atmosphere, mixed with informative lectures on very useful topics, making for a great week in a beautiful location! Thank you NORBIS, Hans, Ines and most of all Joseph for organizing the week!

Register now for the “Metabolic pathway analysis” course

9. August, 2019

Registration is now open for the NORBIS course “Metabolic pathway analysis”, which will take place at NTNU, Trondheim, 4-8 November 2019. This course will provide an introduction to computational analysis and reconstruction of both small and genome-scale metabolic networks, and is organised by Ines Heiland.
 
You will find more details about the course and how to register hereRegistration ends September 15, and successful applicants will be notified shortly after this date. Note that external students must register here before September 15 to get credits for this course.

Register now for “Bioinformatics for functional metagenomics”

28. June, 2019

 
We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the NORBIS course Bioinformatics for functional metagenomics, which will take place at NMBU, Ås, 4-8 November 2019. This course will include an array of contrasting tools to decrypt microbial communities, including those that assess community structure (metagenomics, predictive genome-reconstruction) and function (metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics), and is organised by Phil B. Pope.
 
 
You will find more details about the course and how to register hereRegistration ends 15 September, and successful applicants will be notified shortly after this date. Note that external students must register here before September 1 to get credits for this course.

Want to organise a course or a workshop with support from NORBIS?

24. June, 2019

Do you carry an idea for a course or a workshop within the fields of bioinformatics, biostatistics or systems biology? Want to invite international experts to give lectures at this event? Once again it is time for NORBIS to ask you to propose a course or a workshop to be organised with financial and administrative support from us. We welcome brand new ideas, as well as adaptations of already existing courses and workshops.

Our financial support will cover travel related expenses for invited and internal lecturers as well as participating student members, for both courses and workshops. For courses, we will in addition give a flat sum of 60 000 NOK per course to the responsible department, to compensate time spent preparing and teaching the course. Our administrative support may help during both planning and execution of the course or the workshop, and will ease the process of making a course available across institutions.

Please visit this page to get an overview of the activities that we already offer, and to read our guidelines.

Our members currently have the following topics on their wish list (among many other!):

– proteomics analysis (statistics and bioinformatics)
– basic and advanced statistics on molecular data (in high demand!)
– high dimensional data analysis
– evolutionary genomics
– network biology
– machine learning
– clinical NGS analysis
– open source data

You are of course free to propose other topics within the scope of NORBIS.

 

We aim for our courses to be organized in a biannual fashion. We therefore encourage organisers of previous NORBIS courses to apply with an updated proposal, and to kindly add a summary of the participation and evaluation from the last round, as well as a note describing any updates and changes.

 

Please read more and register your proposal here: by  September 9 2019.

Registration now open for our 5th annual conference – September 30 – October 2

20. June, 2019

 

We are happy to invite you to this year’s annual conference of NORBIS, the national research school in bioinformatics, biostatistics and systems biology. Our fifth conference takes place in beautiful surroundings at Oscarsborg fortress, situated on an island in the Oslo fjord, on September 30 – October 2. Join us there for great talks by international experts and PhD candidates, poster sessions, team building activities and an opportunity to build your network and hang out with a great group of people sharing many of your interests.

The conference is open to everyone. We cover travel and accommodation costs for all PhD students, while master students and post docs can apply for support. We also want to encourage supervisors and other researchers to join our conference, both to facilitate discussion across several levels of experience, to inspire our students, and to increase your own national network.

Read more here and register by August 26th

Towards in Silico-Guided Clinical Trials in Cancer

18. March, 2019

The workshop Towards in Silico-Guided Clinical Trials in Cancer

to be held in Oslo, 15-16 May 2019 at Scandic Holmenkollen Hotel.

 

We bring together experts in systems medicinemathematical oncology and bioinformatics to discuss novel concepts for personalise cancer medicine. Check the workshop website for more details and for registration: https://osloinsilico2019.weebly.com/

 

Confirmed speakers:

 

  • Robert A. Gatenby, Moffitt Cancer Center, USA
  • Ivo Gut, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Spain
  • Francesca Buffa, University of Oxford, UK
  • Gyan Bhanot, Rutgers University, USA
  • Peter Van Loo, The Francis Crick Institute, UK
  • Sampsa Hautaniemi, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Wenyi Wang, MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA
  • Haralampos Hatzikirou, Helmholtz Center, Germany
  • Dominique Barbolosi, Aix Marseille University, France
  • Rebecka Jörnsten, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Mark Robertson-Tessi, Moffit Cancer Center, USA
  • Julia Casado, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Kevin Leder, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Shridar Ganesan Rutgers Cancer Institute, USA
  • Peter A. Fasching Erlangen University Hospital, Germany
  • Jasmine Foo University of Minnesota, USA
  • Alvaro Köhn-Luque, University of Oslo, Norway

 

Registration is free but mandatory in a first come first serve bases for up to 75 participants. It includes two full days of lectures, lunches and coffee breaks with refreshments (thanks to funding from BigInsight, UiO: Life Science, NORBIS, Norwegian Biochemical Society and Digital Life Norway).

 

We hope many of you will join. If so, you should register as soon as possible. Also, we would be very grateful if you may share this information among potentially interested students and colleagues.

Report from exchange to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

3. January, 2019

Report from exchange to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Thanks to NORBIS I got the unique opportunity to experience a different laboratory in Switzerland for 6 months. First, upon arrival in Switzerland it took some time to organize everything before being able to start experiments. However, as soon as everything was in place the pace at which my host laboratory worked was overwhelming and allowed me to finish many important experiments in a rather short time.

 

I learned different new techniques such as QTL mapping and usage of big datasets. In particular, the usage of a genetic reference population allowed me to identify new potential mechanisms driven by my gene of interest. In summary, both my research project and me personally benefited tremendously from this research stay.

 

Most importantly, I was very lucky to meet outstanding colleagues with whom I spent long nights in the laboratory learning various things, but additionally we also shared beautiful moments in the swiss mountains.

In general, I would recommend planning more time than anticipated as settling in a new laboratory takes time. However, once the first hurdle is overcome it is an unforgettable time that everyone should experience at some point.

Martin

Zhi Zhao’ research stay at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

17. December, 2018

Developing new Bayesian models in London

 

I am a PhD student at the Department of Biostatistics of the University of Oslo. I had stayed in London for four months funded by the NORBIS, as a visiting PhD student with the group of Dr. Alex Lewin, who is Associate Professor in Biostatistics at the Department of Medical Statistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

 

I was collaborating with Dr. Alex Lewin and Dr. Marco Banterle on new Bayesian models for drug sensitivity prediction and integration of multi-omics data. The developed computational tools for the analysis of these data can consider the intrinsic relationships between the various omics data sources and also between different anti-cancer drugs, and generate new biological knowledge by helping us to identify which omics data sources and which individual features are most predictive for the sensitivity of which (classes of) drugs.

 

We have adapted a promising modelling approach, that was previously developed in Dr. Lewin’s group, to our situation. We have established a new Bayesian model framework for drug sensitivity prediction and drug targets identification.  The new Bayesian model uses Seemly Unrelated Regressions for estimating a large covariance matrix efficiently, a spike-and-slab prior for selecting sparsely relevant molecular features, and a Markov random field prior for capturing the drug-drug similarity and related targeted genes/pathways. During my stay in the UK, I also had a good opportunity to visit the MRC Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge and have nice discussions with some researchers there. Although I am now back in Oslo, our collaboration on this project is continuing and will result in a joint publication.

 

This year London had a very good summer, a lot of sunny days rather than mostly rainy days. The best relaxing ways for me were taking a stroll along the Thames and enjoying the Hampstead Heath walking. But it was extremely hot some days in July, especially in many buildings and on the underground trains (the “Tube”) without air conditioners. In General, I had an enjoyable summer visit in London. However, I don’t highly recommend others for such short international exchange during summer. It might be better to avoid the holiday season,

so that you could have more opportunities to discuss with your collaborators.

 

In addition, since London is a super-rich city and one of the world’s largest trading centres, it is difficult to find a not so expensive accommodation for a short stay. I regret not to spend more time on looking for one fixed accommodation rather than living in three places during four months.

 

Finally, I would like to thank NORBIS for the travel grant, and the collaborators in London very much.

 

Tower Bridge, London, UK

 

VISITING FELLOW AT THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL STATISTICS AND COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, USA

20. August, 2018

By: Anna-Simone Josefine Frank

I’m currently a PhD student at the School of Pharmacy (UiO) with a background in mathematics. A travel grant from NORBIS, for which I’m grateful, enabled me to spend six months (January to June 2018) as Visiting Fellow at Cornell University in New York, USA. My main affiliation at Cornell was with the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology (BSCB).

Picture: On campus in early 2018 (Winter at Cornell was harsh)

My PHD project and purpose of my stay
My PhD research focuses on the use of thyroid hormone replacement therapy (THRT) during pregnancy. The goal is to investigate whether THRT has effect on immediate birth outcomes. The project relies on the use of statistical methodologies and analysis tools. Hence the goal of my visit at Cornell was to spend time in a quantitative research environment renowned for the development of novel statistical methodologies.

The Department and Collaboration
I joined the research group of Professor Matteson early January, and felt very welcome by him, students, faculty members and administrative staff. I was immediately offered office space and the necessary research facilities. Professor Matteson and I agreed on regular meetings. These meetings created a forum for discussion, where I have had to answer questions that have contributed to deepen my own understanding of the project. Most challenging however, was explaining to a statistician with no background in pharmacoepidemiology what my research is about.

Outcomes of Visit
Our first collaborative project aimed to classify women according to similar patterns of medication use, and to compare these patterns across different data sources. We applied Group-based  trajectory models (GBTM) to the data and identified four disjoint groups of adherence patterns of medication use. The results were summarized in a manuscript, entitled ‘Group-based trajectory models to determine patterns from different data sources on maternal use of thyroid hormone replacement therapy’. This manuscript, submitted whiles at Cornell, is currently under review.
As an extension of this project, we have started work on quantifying the effect of THRT use on immediate pregnancy outcomes. Collaboration on this project will continue beyond my research visit.

Picture: Cornell Tower (left) and Flower Garden on campus in summer (right)

Academic Seminars and Workshops
In addition to research, I attended weekly seminars at the department of statistics as well as took part in workshops on statistical methods, which was organized by the Cornell Statistical Consulting Unit (CSCU). Graduate students at the department usually present their latest research results during a bi-weekly seminar. I had the opportunity of presenting my research project during one of the seminar meetings in March.

Community engagement
Besides academia, I supported the Cornell University hockey team (the Big Red), during their their Ivy league hockey tournament. In April, I also participated as a panelist to share my career path experience with undergraduate students at Cornell University. In May, I got accepted to participate in a “Julie Tumbles Leadership retreat” workshop tailored specifically to young, female researchers and organized by CORNELL’S GRADUATE & PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK (GPWOMEN). The workshop discussed the obstacles women face during their career and how to deal with them.

Picture: Hockey trophies, tickets (up) and Lynah Rink (down)

In total, my six months stay abroad at the department of BSCB was very stimulating experience both personally and academically. So far it was the best and most rewarding experience during my PhD, and I’m grateful to NORBIS for making this possible. I can strongly recommend every PhD student to spend some time abroad.

Registration now open for our 4th annual conference – October 17-19

29. June, 2018

We are excited to invite you to join this year’s annual conference of NORBIS, the national research school in bioinformatics, biostatistics and systems biology. Our fourth conference takes place in alpine surroundings at Voss, along the train track between Oslo and Bergen, on October 17-19. Join us there for great talks by international experts and PhD candidates, poster sessions, team building activities and an opportunity to build your network and hang out with a great gang of people sharing many of your interests.

The conference is open for everyone. We cover travel and accommodation costs for all PhD students, and master students and post docs can apply for support. We also want to encourage supervisors and other researchers to join our conference, both to facilitate discussion across several levels of experience, to inspire our students, and to increase your own national network.

Read more and register here by September 10!

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