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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!

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

18. June, 2018

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 28 2018.

Nature Masterclass on scientific writing, September 6-7

12. June, 2018

We are happy to again offer you the opportunity to attend a Nature Masterclass workshop on scientific writing, in Fredrikstad September 6-7. The training is delivered by two senior editors from the Nature Publishing Group (Nature Biotechnology and Nature Communications), who will teach you how to get the most out of the writing process, to understand the editorial processes and how to work with them, and to know what it takes to get published in top-ranked journals.

This workshop is organised as a collaboration with the national research schools ForBio, IBA, NFIF and DEEP. NORBIS has a limited number of places at this workshop, and will prioritise senior PhD students already in the process of preparing a manuscript. In the submission form, you will be asked to upload an abstract for the paper you plan to work on during the workshop. We will select those of you whom are most likely to benefit from this workshop.

Read more and register here by August 1.

MedBioInfo course in ‘Machine Learning in Medical Bioinformatics’ June 11-15

24. April, 2018

We are happy to announce that NORBIS will have a number of seats available for our members at the course in ‘Machine Learning in Medical Bioinformatics’, organised by our Swedish collaborators MedBioInfo.se in Linköping, Sweden, June 11-15. NORBIS members may apply for a seat and a travel grant to attend the course, please read more here.

Apply for post doc membership to NORBIS!

11. April, 2018

Post-docs working in fields related to those of NORBIS may now sign up as post-doc members and enjoy the benefits of prioritised access to, and the possibility to apply for funding to join, NORBIS courses and workshops. In return, NORBIS expects post-docs to agree to list your project and areas of expertise in a database at the NORBIS web page, and to thereby pose as potential mentors and advisors for our PhD student members.

Read more and apply for membership here!

 

 

Five international travel grants awarded!

4. April, 2018

We are happy to announce that the NORBIS board has awarded a total of 275 000 NOK, to support the research exchange of five NORBIS PhD students during 2018. Each student will receive funding corresponding to the NORBIS international travel grant guidelines, which may be found here.

 

The five successful students are as follows:

Name Institution Destination Department Duration
Asan Mohideen Nord University St.John’s, Canada Memorial University of Newfoundland  4 months, Sept 2018 – Jan 2019
José Cerca UiO Edinburgh, UK Edinburgh Genomics, University of Edinburgh 3 months, Nov 2018 -Jan 2019
Martin Wohlwend NTNU Lausanne, Switzerland École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) 6 months, June – Nov  2018
Zhi Zhao UiO London, UK London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 4 months, July – Oct 2018
Yaxin Xue UiB Berkeley, USA Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 6 months, July 2018-Jan 2019

 

We wish you all good luck, and look forward to reading your reports when you return!

Integration of knowledge and logical modeling at Institut Curie and ENS in Paris

12. March, 2018

by Vasundra Touré, NTNU

I had the chance to do my international exchange in Paris for 6months where I visited two research groups: Pr. Emmanuel Barillot’s group at Institut Curie and Pr. Denis Thieffry’s group at ENS Paris. Both have common domains of interest with my group. With the approval of my supervisor, I did this research stay in the first year of my PhD to help me comfort the structure of my research project. Plus, while still be at the beginning of my PhD, I was flexible to add new insights or new areas to explore in my project.

For me, it has been a good experience. You get to see how the different groups work and you benefit from the richness of skills of each group. I learned a lot about certain topics that I didn’t know anything about (e.g, computation of trap spaces to find stable states for boolean models) and also got feedbacks regarding my own project from an external point of view (e.g, representation of causality statements and ways to extract them from existing repositories). I also had the opportunity to help people in the groups with certain topics that I was familiar with. So, I was happy to return the favor! I attended the groups meetings where I got to know about projects of the teams and, lab seminars that involved more people from the department with topics that were sometimes completely different to what I am doing, but still interesting to listen to.

During this research stay, I have been able to attend several meetings and workshops relevant for my project (e.g, GREEKC, Curation Workshop on Molecular and Causal Interaction, COMBINE) which helped me to put on track one part of my PhD project and for which I am currently writing a paper.

 

 

Besides work, I enjoyed my time in Paris. Most of my family and friends are there, so it was refreshing to spend some time with them. And Paris is a beautiful city.

 

 

Thank you NORBIS for funding this research stay. I would also like to thank both groups that hosted me. This has been resourceful for my PhD, which is definitely on tracks now! A couple of ideas emerged from this research stay, some work done, some work still in progress. One month after my stay, I am still working on some of the tasks started during my stay abroad and this gave to my group new perspectives to study as well!

Developing new ideas at the Institute of Genetic Medicine in Newcastle

22. January, 2018


Newcastle International Centre for Life, Newcastle University

by Miriam Gjerdevik, University of Bergen

 

I visited Heather J. Cordell, Professor of Statistical Genetics, and her research group at Newcastle University, Institute of Genetic Medicine, from September 2017 to December 2017.

Heather Cordell is a world-leading researcher within the development and application of statistical methodology to genetic studies of complex diseases. We have several research interests in common, in particular statistical analyses involving case-parent trios. The purpose of my research exchange was to expand my international network and establish a connection and collaboration with Cordell and her group.

I started working on my third PhD paper in the beginning of my research stay. With excellent supervising from both my main supervisor, Håkon Gjessing, and Cordell, I managed to write a decent first draft of the paper during my three-month stay. The input from Cordell has improved the quality of my paper, and the collaboration has been very fruitful. During my exchange, I had regular phone meetings with my supervisor. This was an excellent way of keeping in touch and discussing my ongoing research.

I was warmly welcomed by Cordell and her group. Within the office, the group organized fortnightly informal seminars where we could share new thoughts and ideas for research. Moreover, the group met for dinner and institution drinks after work, which made it easy to get to know everyone and to socialise in the evenings. I also joined the group for a one-day conference in Edinburgh, which further expanded my international network.

My stay in Newcastle has been very successful! I have developed new ideas for research and increased my knowledge of complex trait research. Moreover, I have met several new colleagues and friends, with whom I hope to cooperate throughout my career.

I truly enjoyed each and every day at the Institute of Genetic Medicine in Newcastle!  I am very grateful for receiving this opportunity, and I would like to thank Gjessing and Cordell for all their help in making this international exchange possible, as well as the National research school in bioinformatics, biostatistics and systems biology (NORBIS) and the University of Bergen for the necessary funding.

 

Future advice:

Prior to my research stay, there was quite a lot of paperwork to complete (applications for funding, occasional student application, NAV, insurances, etc.). In addition, there were practical concerns such as finding an apartment. I recommend starting the paperwork as early as possible, as it took longer than expected. Moreover, I regret not going for a longer period of time. I would encourage others to apply for a six-month exchange if possible.

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