ENMC Young Scientist Programme: six years of experience
The Young Scientist Programme was set-up more than six years ago to increase the participation of young professionals at ENMC workshops led by experts in the field, with the aim of facilitating their entry into the NMD network. To evaluate the programme and identify new challenges and opportunities, ENMC performed a descriptive analysis and launched a survey among the 39 Young Scientists selected for the Young Scientist Programme in the years 2014-2019. The evaluation was then completed by some personal interviews with Young Scientists.
The gender and educational balance was excellent (see Table 1). The geographical distribution (not shown here), strongly reflected the locations of workshop organisers, who often propose candidates from their own lab or clinic. The ENMC will create more awareness about the programme to attract also candidates from countries less often represented at workshops. Half of the Young Scientists were PhD students and more than 30% were post-docs, associate professors, and medical doctors working in industry, showing that the programme attracts persons in their early and mid-careers. Surprisingly, only 77% of the Young Scientists presented their research at the workshop. ENMC aims at increasing this quote to 100% in the near future.
The respondents of the survey (n=20/39) unanimously stated that ENMC, by the scientific interactive discussions and by its socialising opportunities, facilitates communication and networking between junior and senior researchers. Ninety-five percent of the responders confirmed that the ENMC workshop did contribute to their career. These data show that the programme in its current form is effective in reaching its mission and that, according to the respondents, it does not require modifications. Also the title Young Scientist was felt to be adequate. Many of the Young Scientists who attended ENMC workshops were on average below 35 years and are therefore in a career phase that particularly needs entrance in an established network.
The ENMC Research Director Dr Ana Ferreiro concluded from the survey:
“At ENMC workshops an environment is built which fosters visibility of the Young Scientists resulting in trust and subsequent collaborations with workshop organisers and participants. These are all key elements to help Young Scientists build a strong career in the neuromuscular field.”
Click here to read the full summary of the survey outcomes.
The survey also delivered valuable suggestions to further improve the Young Scientist Programme. In the future, two Young Scientists will be allowed in each workshop and will work as a duo together to help the organisers in the preparation of the meeting and to co-author the mandatory reports. We expect that this strategy will better empower Young Scientists as new entrees into the established consortium and help them networking with senior researchers in the field. Additionally, an online platform for all ENMC Young Scientists was suggested. To this scope, ENMC created a LinkedIn group to stimulate an exchange of experiences, research projects and career plans, and to establish solid networks among ENMC Young Scientists.
Interestingly, interviews indicated that a more concrete support from the senior scientists in the NMD field would be much appreciated and needed by those who are potentially the next generation of leaders in the field.
One of the interviewed Young Scientists answered when he was asked if he would pursue his career on neuromuscular disorders (NMD):
“I am really interested in NMD. But whether I keep on working on these disorders or change my field of research will ultimately depend on opportunities.”
ENMC is interested in encouraging careers of future leaders as a means to promote progress and innovation in research and care, thus achieving the concept and general mission of the ENMC. The idea of a Mentoring Programme targeted at the mid-career researchers (35-45 year) arose from these interviews and is being developed by the ENMC Research and Executive Committee members.
We will keep you posted!
INTERVIEW WITH THE FIRST WINNER OF AN ENMC YOUNG SCIENTIST AWARD
Workshop 207: Respiratory insufficiency in Myotonic Dystrophy.
Who is Benjamin Gallais?
Benjamin is a clinical psychologist (PhD) working at the University de Sherbrooke and at the Clinique des maladies neuromusculaires in Quebec, Canada
Q: What did the ENMC workshop bring you as a Young Scientist?
A: I really appreciate that ENMC gives the opportunity to young people in the research field to learn from the key experts in the NMD field, to get the privilege to be with all these participants and share my research although they didn’t know me! Also the ENMC publications in Neuromuscular Disorders help young scientists to get a clear and good overview, for example the ENMC workshop on pain and fatigue, was very valuable for my research.
Q: What could you contribute to the workshop?
A: I was the only psychologist in the group, so I could provide a more subjective point of view on all medical topics being discussed, besides the input from the patients that were participating. I presented a literature review on the subjective impact of respiratory impairment in NMDs and shared my PhD research on different segmentation of fatigue and sleepiness symptoms.
Q: What is the greatest asset for a Young Scientist entering the ENMC network?
A: The relevance for my future research and creating new valuable collaborations, introduce myself and my research to the established network of researchers. I thank ENMC and the Company Forum for giving me this opportunity!