Why is there no cure for most neurodegenerative diseases and how can we improve behavioral data reproducibility? These and other questions were explored in the World Café format, during the 2016 ZNZ PhD Retreat.
During this year’s PhD Retreat, a new format was introduced in which PhD students prepared topics relevant to their daily research and worked in small groups with other students to discuss these questions.
Vinita Jagannath of the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich had prepared the question “Research in psychiatry: from bench to bedside?” and moderated the discussion. Her group listed hurdles that prevent translation of research to clinical applications, such as the complexity of psychiatric disorders and ethical problems, and came up with strategies to overcome these hurdles. Vinita enjoyed the experience: “I think it was a great opportunity for all of us to reflect upon our research, associate it with the topic of the World Café and also get new insights about the topic from others.”
Good opportunity for sharing ideas
Irina Lazar-Contes, PhD student at the Brain Research Institute, asked “How can we improve behavioral data reproducibility?” Her group defined pressure to publish, environmental factors and biological differences as the main hurdles for reproducibility of experimental results. They argue for better standardization of experiments and more collaboration between groups. “The topics debated in this PhD retreat seemed to be really well chosen and I do believe raising awareness for “hot” topics in science and research as well as encouraging critical thinking and reasoning is the only way forward to create a better and more efficient research environment”, Irina said.
An opinion shared by Chiara Foglieni of the Laboratory for Biomedical Neurosciences who added “The World Café format is a good opportunity for networking and sharing ideas among a small group of scientists with diverse backgrounds. Bringing together a variety of views has a high potential for unexpected outcomes of a brainstorming session.”