It was a long summer holiday and during the three months, I went back to my hometown in the Netherlands, travelled a bit, and if you follow the @kistudents Instagram, you’ve probably seen that I was in Seoul to attend the South-Korean Science and Technology annual conference in Seoul and Seili Island in Finland for the NordBioMedNet summer school.
Today, I will write more about the NordBioMedNet computational biomedicine summer school! The NordBioMedNet is a one-week computational biomedicine summer school where students from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark come together to broaden their network and knowledge about this important field. This year, five students from KI attended the summer school (see below in the picture!).
Some might think that it is strange to participate such a summer school as a Toxicology student, but as I have mentioned in my previous blogs, computational models are applied more and more nowadays in the field of Toxicology. Plus, I believe it is always good to broaden your knowledge even outside your field!
Why Seili Island? Well, the Archipelago Research Institute is located on this beautiful
island! The island has a long history. In the past, it used to be a hospital for people with leprosy and who were mentally ill. Right now, on Seili Island, a lot of research is going on. But since the island is also known to be full of ticks, tick research has been performed extensively as well.
What did we do each day?
After a long summer break, deep inside my heart, I hoped that the summer school would be very laid back and involve less intensive materials but that wasn’t the case.
There were many topics covered in a short amount of time.
- Discovering disease-relevant genetics changes
- Clinical translation of genomics
- Ethical challenges in genomics
- Bioinformatics challenges in genomics
- Omics and machine learning basics
Every morning we started our first lecture at 8.30AM and the first day was an introduction day where we heard more about why computational skills are actually needed in biomedicine. During the afternoon we explored more what scripts are and how to run basic commands in R to analyse datasets. After that, we started our own project to identify a new drug target with machine learning and everything that sounds high tech to me.
Of course, the day ended with a real Finnish sauna!
The introduction day was just a taste of the week. Starting from Tuesday, we were going down to business. Lecture after lecture, we learned more about whole genome sequencing, tools to analyse data such as IGV/Genome browser, how WGS is actually used in clinics and ethics, ethics and more ethics!
The whole afternoon was dedicated to ethics and we actually had someone from KI for this session. We received some real cases where we had to think about what would be ethical to do? Rather than knowing the theory, the real cases made me realize how difficult ethics can actually be. After a long day, we went around the island and were introduced to the Archipelago research station.
Day by day, it started to get difficult to wake up early. But on Wednesday, we worked mostly on our own projects.
This was definitely the highlight of the summer school. With four lectures with almost no breaks in between, because our professors were so enthusiastic to be there, we were overloaded with new information about machine learning, personalized medicine and utilization of real-world evidence in pharma collaborations and career opportunities outside academia. Since this was the last evening, we also had a closing party and of course a Seili brain challenge.
On the last day, we had the final presentation of our projects. There were many different topics with varying techniques and methods. For our own project to discover new drugs for Atopic Dermatitis, we used a really cool technology called AtomNet, which uses artificial intelligence for drug discovery! Definitely check out if you are interested in this. It is incredible to see how far technology has brought us today.
What I think about the summer school
The BioNordMedNet was a great opportunity to meet students from other Nordic countries and sharing different expertise from each other was a new way to broaden my horizons. Knowing about other research topics, cultures and industries was very valuable. Also, not to forget, the professors who were present during the whole summer school and guest speakers who were highly skilled and experienced made the summer school even more special. Interacting with them in a small group was greatly appreciated.
How to apply?
You can apply for the summer school if you are enrolled in the Master’s programme in Biomedicine, Toxicology, Bioentrepreneurship or Molecular Techniques in Life Science. At the end of the year, an invitation will be sent and there is an application form that you need to fill in. The best part of the NordBioMedNet summer school is that if you get selected, everything is funded: your transportation, accommodation and the delicious food 🙂