What is the CORE COURSE? From the 1st to the 10th October the first meeting of all of the people (more or less) involved in the MANNA project took place. During these 10 days professors and researchers with special expertise in animal nutrition and ‘omics’ technology, Early Stage Researchers (ESR), partners from industrial and non-academic companies and project supervisors came together in a remote research station of the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment close to Glasgow (on the shores of Loch Lomond, picture on the right) to discuss the projects, exchange ideas, but in particular to participate in specific lectures in order to connect all the different backgrounds experienced by the ESRs to a level playing field of knowledge. The Core Course began with the first introductory meeting, where all the ESRs learned about each other through short presentations, and soon afterwards the main objectives of the MANNA were explained by Prof. David Eckersall and Dr. Mark McLaughlin. Then, it was time to understand how the ESRs would have to enrol in the respective universities, and how all the bureaucratic and administrative aspects of the project would be managed. The presence of Dave Iglesias, the EU Project Administrator in charge of MANNA was very helpful and highly appreciated. After this first short introductory part, the Core Course officially began, and it was time to start the lectures. All the professors and some of the companies’ supervisors were involved. The lectures covered several topics with the aim to provide a similar level of knowledge for the ESRs with their different backgrounds (in the photo below, Dr. Anita Horvatić from University of Zagreb giving her lecture).
We began with lectures describing general anatomy and physiology of domestic animals, continued with a focus on nutritional and genetical aspects, until arriving finally at protein and lipid metabolism, while including the advanced technology of the omics, which is the main pillar of all the projects involved in the MANNA. However, not only the professors gave lectures, in fact it is important to emphasise that all the ESRs and some additional PhD students from the university of Milano and the university of Glasgow gave short presentations on their past (or present) research projects, in order to gain practise for the future presentations and demonstrate their research experience to date.
These were the activities of the first week, and so, a break from the intense Core Course programme was needed. On Saturday 6th, everyone was free for the day, and luckily the weather decided to show its best side, giving all the possibility to enjoy a good little trip around Loch Lomond.
However, the Core Course wasn’t finished yet! Some important work should have been done in the last 3 days. In fact, on Sunday 7th the last supervisors arrived, and it was time for the ESRs to officially work on their individual MANNA project. Each supervisor gave a 30 min presentation on their specific ESR project. The ESRs then met their supervisor to set up the general programme of their PhDs. Therefore, the last few days were very important to broadly define the programme for every individual project along with the interrelationships with other ESR plans. When all the specific project presentations were finished, representatives from a number of the companies involved in MANNA gave their perspective on interacting with academia. Their presentations served to further motivate all the ESRs to be prepared to work hard but in a focussed and productive manner directed towards achieving a valuable outcome in order to improve the future of the animal science and nutrition sector. After all the presentations and lectures, but also funny moments during these 10 intense days, the Core Course has arrived at an end and it was time for everyone to return (or to go) to their main university, in order to start the research. However, before all the departures, it was time to have a nice MANNA dinner all together in a restaurant near SCENE, The Drymen Inn.
As the kick-off of this new adventure, the Core Course certainly enriched the career and the personal experience of everyone: from the ESRs to the professors, through the companies’ supervisors, in a mixture of different academic backgrounds, and with a variety of cultures which notably mixed together well.
The majority of the people involved in the MANNA as, unfortunately, some members of the team were not able to attend the Core Course.
Written by Ruben Riosa (ESR5, newsletter editor)