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1st Annual SYNSENSO week

Follow-up: 1st Annual SYNSENSO Week

Last month, the 1st annual SYNSENSO week was hosted by SYNSENSO partner University of Rome Tor Vergata in the picturesque and historic city of Rome. Doctoral candidates, PIs, and representatives of associated industry partners from across the SYNSENSO consortium came together for a week of innovation, collaboration, and shared insights. Located in the heart of Rome, at Palazzo Cipolla, this meeting was an opportunity to create lasting bonds and celebrate the unique multidisciplinary spirit of the SYNSENSO network.

Day 1: The 1st Annual SYNSENSO Week began with a warm welcome by SYNSENSO project coordinator Prof. Heinz Koeppl (TuDA) and Prof. Francesco Ricci (TVU), followed by a brief tour-de-table of all participants. After that, the afternoon was dedicated to discussing the management and organisation of the project, upcoming meetings and secondments.  Closing the first day, participants embraced the social aspect by gathering outside for further networking and socialising.

Day 2: The second day of the annual meeting commenced with consecutive scientific lectures. Dr. Ralf Strasser from Dynamic Biosensors (DBS), gave a lecture titled “Conjugating DNA with proteins: A molecular fusion for various applications” with remarks on various strategies they are utilising to conjugate DNA with proteins for developing biosensors. This first session was followed by another lecture by our host Prof. Francesco Ricci. In the second scientific lecture of the day, we had the chance to delve deep into the details of DNA-based nanodevices developed by the research group of Prof. Ricci with the purpose of antibody detection. During and after the scientific lectures, we had the opportunity to discuss with the people who are experts in the field their presented projects.

Day 2 continued to be insightful with our next stop in the Ricci Laboratory located at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. We had the chance to replicate the platform developed by Ricci Lab, which was also presented by Prof. Francesco Ricci earlier during the scientific lecture. It was an excellent opportunity to be able to conduct an experiment and see the results within a couple of hours, including the discussions with the members of Ricci Lab. After having a high paced day filled with scientific lectures, laboratory visits, experiments, and discussions, we concluded Day 2 with a joint consortium dinner.

Day 3: The third day was full of science. The day started with the industry lecture “Protein Expression Re-imagined: Reduce iterative cycles and get active recombinant proteins faster” presented by Dr. Stevie Reikine and Dr. Florian Mittelberg from Nuclera (NUC). After, we gave way to the DC presentations in which each of our doctoral candidates presented their projects, progress and future steps. At the same time the DCs received feedback and recommendations about their projects from the professors and the other DCs. In between presentations, participants had the chance to discuss about future collaborations and new ideas.

Day 4: On the fourth and last day of our meeting, we focused entirely on improving our transferable skills, particularly our science communication abilities. Our training covered the basics of getting our scientific ideas across to a wider audience, the importance of open science, and we also took part in engaging activities that helped us grasp how to share science more effectively at all levels. 

The training helped us realise why being able to talk about science is helpful for us personally, in society, and for our work. We learned why effective science communication matters in personal, societal, and scientific contexts, emphasizing the need for strong communication skills. This included understanding how to convey our scientific findings to both experts and also non-experts. We also picked up various strategies for delivering our message effectively (which you’ll see us using on social media soon!). Lastly, we had a session on Open Science, its importance,  and how it can make a positive impact on our research and our personal and professional growth.

The 1st annual SYNSENSO week was a great opportunity to strengthen connections in an inspiring environment. Engaging with partners from diverse academic and industrial backgrounds added to our experience. The range of activities, from discussions to hands-on lab work, provided us with valuable insights. The connections forged during this week promise exciting collaborations in the future, and we anticipate what lies ahead.

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