August 2011

International collaborative science courses

Selection of students

A fundamental goal of the course is to make students aware of the interdisciplinary nature and diversity of researchers in biochemistry and cell biology. Screening of student applicants is competitive, with emphasis on potential for bioscience research. The variation in scientific backgrounds of the students is taken into account, and the incoming class is selected to represent a broad distribution of backgrounds that include cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, biophysics and bioengineering. In addition, the student body represents a broad spectrum of nationalities and affiliations. Achieving these objectives requires active and far-reaching recruitment efforts, a task that includes students and faculty previously involved in the courses as well as advertising with widespread visibility.

The 2010 participants stated in evaluations that the course had a positive impact on their career development: It increased student motivation for pursuit of a scientific career and, in some cases, also encouraged them to seek training abroad. Numerous collaborations, student internships and faculty sabbaticals have resulted from relationships formed during the courses. Nonscientific activities, such as faculty-versus-student beach soccer matches and late-night churrascos, contribute to the development of long-lasting friendships.

Funding

Due to the international nature of the IICCBB courses and necessary travel for many participants, the expenses associated with organizing the courses are considerable. Numerous funding agencies have generously supported the IICCBB's efforts throughout the years, though the support is frequently inadequate to defray all expenses associated with the course. Student travel and accommodations are priorities. Participating faculty members often pay for travel and other course-related expenses from their personal funds.

Future

The IICCBB has succeeded in organizing over 20 courses and symposia with more than 1,500 students from more than 28 countries and over 100 faculty members from more than 15 countries. We are working to secure funding to offer regularly scheduled annual IICCBB courses in countries throughout the Americas. The long-term mission is to expand and merge these efforts with others to foster scientific networks that are truly global and contribute to the development of scientific capacity in nations currently lacking these connections. Student feedback regarding career-development impact, in addition to the research collaborations and publications that have emerged from contacts established at IICCB-organized events, indicates that the courses are successful on several levels and that we are on track to accomplish this mission.

Reference

1. Benech, J. C., Galina, A., Cameron, C., Teixeira, A., Garcia, R., Sotelo Jr., J. R., Verdes, J. M., Sasso, A., Calliari, A., Kun, A., and Sotelo, J. R. (1995) Biochemical education: A strategy to introduce young students to biochemical research: Report of an IUBMB workshop held in Montevideo, Uruguay, April 12 – 16, 1993. Biochem. Educ. 23, 192 – 193.

L.C. Cameron (cameron@unirio.br) is a professor in the Laboratório de Bioquímica de Proteínas, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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