About Turku Bioscience Blog Series

We will start a new Blog series of Turku Bioscience with the purpose to promote and discuss timely topics and to present different opinion points relevant for molecular biosciences. We will have both internal bloggers as well as guest writers. At the time of writing, we are living through the pandemic so at least some of the topics will be related to the highly extraordinary situation, but also other topics will be covered.

Editors of the blog series: Jukka Westermarck & John Eriksson

Inspirational lectures regarding research infrastructures

Lectures on research infrastructures and core facility career development

Last year Prof. Philip Hockberger, Associate Vice-President for Research (Northwestern Univ., Chicago), visited Turku Bioscience and gave two lectures on how to build sustainable research infrastructures and on the career paths and career possibilities of core facility personnel.

As not everybody could attend these lectures and it has been a while since these lectures were presented, we feature these lectures on our blog pages along with Prof. Hockberger’s comments on these videos to provide an inspirational start of the new year.

With this, we wish you a Happy  New Year 2021!

Lecture on a Sustainable Model for Research Infrastructures: https://youtu.be/PmiCw0JGSGo

Comments by Prof. Hockberger

  Interest in utilizing new technologies to address long-standing research problems influenced my thesis research (1976-1982), continued during my postdoc years (1982-1987), and created a dilemma during my tenure-track appointment (1987-1993). Tenure decisions require faculty to make original contributions to their scientific discipline measured by high-profile publications, successful grant-writing, and promotion of graduate students and postdocs. Creating and developing new technologies was not a proven strategy for tenure in a medical school. Nevertheless, my school and university took a chance and promoted me with tenure in 1993. Over the next few years, I struggled with how to meet their continuing expectations. I found collaborations to be more enjoyable than an independent research program, and I found the research questions of my colleagues exciting and challenging. It was not difficult for me to see how technologies that I was working on could help their research programs. After several successful collaborations (most notably with Prof’s Kevin Healy and Francis Szele), these collaborations did not bring the type of professional success that comes with an independent research program.

    While collaborations like these were funded by grants (the standard financial model at the time), it became clear to me that a fee-based model offered some clear advantages for facilitating collaborations. In fact, it seemed that there were many technologies that could benefits from this model. Thus, in 2009, I agreed to become the first Director of Core Facilities at Northwestern University, and led the effort to convert many of our technology-based laboratories to a fee-for-service model. During the next decade, my team developed performance metrics and sustainable business plans that enabled Northwestern to become one of the leading institutions world-wide for advancing this model of core facilities. I’ve published papers on core-related topics, presented seminars, consulted, and served on several national and international committees to help promote this work. Currently, I serve on the FASEB Shared Research Resources Task Force to assess the current landscape and identify policy recommendations for investigators, institutions, and federal agencies.

The above video provides a model for how to build a sustainable portfolio of research (core) facilities at a Tier 1 university.

Lecture on the importance of Career Development: https://youtu.be/mFtuiGY_JUQ

Comments by Prof. Hockberger:

Another passion of mine is the career development of the people who manage and work in core facilities, especially directors and managers. This career path requires special training, skills, and experiences that are not part of typical graduate and postdoctoral programs. This video describes institutional, regional, and national efforts to fill this gap at a Tier 1 university.

Read More

Proximity rules

The writer is Research Director and Professor of Cancer Biology Jukka Westermarck

Because of Corona, virtual meetings have become an everyday routine for most of us, which is a great thing. I Personally, I have spent late evenings in pajamas on our living room couch listening and participating in live discussions with some of the greatest minds from the bioscience field. This all without having to leave home, suffering from jetlag, and paying thousands of euros for travel. Moreover, we have invited colleagues from Finland and abroad to join our journal club, or former lab member currently working as a post-doc abroad, to join our group meeting to comment on the ongoing work that is based on her important contributions as a PhD student. We also have learned to use other web-based tools such as Slack to clearly increase interactions and smoothen the share of information inside our own group. These are improvements we could have done years ago, but only now had to do due to the Corona situation.

Read More

Is the Biology of Homo Sapiens not Interesting?

The writer is Director of Turku Bioscience John Eriksson.

The ongoing pandemic has given reason to consider the public awareness of bioscience and its general importance. In this respect, it was interesting to check out the mass media and science journals at the turn of the year, as the new decennium, carrying the somewhat prophetic number 2020, spurred an exceptional interest in things to come. There was a cavalcade of interviews, columns, blogs, and debates from experts with presumed crystal balls to portray the future. The predictions included many familiar themes: climate change, consequences thereof and necessary plans for action, digitalization, energy production, new materials, artificial intelligence, different aspects of theoretical physics, astronomy, the future of Earth and the universe, plans for space programs, and also universal themes like politics, traffic, and housing.

Read More

Open Access Technology Centres Transform the Way Research Is Conducted — Turku Bioscience Operates at the Frontiers of Science

Among all the branches of life sciences, cell and molecular biology have often relied upon the development of key enabling technologies. Several significant paradigm shifts in biosciences have their origins specifically in novel and innovative technologies and/or methods.

The writer is Director of Turku Bioscience John Eriksson.

Read More