On Tuesday the 6th of June, the pre-course will take place. The pre-course is organised for international students, and aims at improving your research skills. To master your research skills, several masterclasses are organised. In addition to that, a lecture about Your Future at the UMCG, three speed keynote lectures, a Science Elective and to finish the day, a spectacular dinner party is organised  at the Plaza Danza with a salsa workshop to improve your dancing!


An abstract: the invitation to your research!

Prof. Marianne G. Rots PhD

The scientific abstract is one of the most important parts of a scientific paper or grant application as it presents the features of your research and with that immediately shows the quality of the paper. Your abstract can therefore be an invitation for fellow researchers to find out more about your research. This workshop is all about the writing of a convincing scientific abstract. The learning objectives are directed towards the structure of the abstract as well as towards effective and comprehensible formulation of complex problems and research constructions. The course will consist of a short lecture followed by assignments in groups and discussions. Students are expected to bring a (self-written) abstract for peer review during the pre-course.

Capture the public and make your point. Preparing Scientific Presentations.

Prof. Anton J.W. Scheurink Phd

This masterclass will provide strategies for preparing interesting and engaging presentations. The essence of an effective presentation is engaging the audience, capturing their interest by posing an intriguing question, spelling out a methodology for addressing that question and then answering it. A successful presentation provides the audience with cues and information in an orderly structure, allowing them to form expectations on what they will hear and when they will hear it. Tips for doing so, along with tips on what not to do, will be supplied and the presenter will engage participants in a highly interactive format by crafting storylines and structures from material that they provide. The main focus of the masterclass will be on oral presentations but at the end we will give some do’s and don’ts on poster presentations as well.

Medical Statisics

Hans G.M. Burgerhof PhD

In 90 minutes, an overview of statistical techniques will be given. Together with the participants several questions will be answered:

  • What is the link between probability theory and statistics?
  • Why is it important to use descriptive statistics?
  • What is a statistical test and when do we use which test?
  • How do we calculate a sample size?

Based on the article of Phung and colleagues on risk factors for low birth weight, we will go through several steps of the statistical process. Starting with descriptive statistics, refreshing the theory of univariate tests and confidence intervals, we will end up making and interpreting several regressions models: linear, logistic and Cox regression for survival.

Emphasis will not be on formulas and mathematics, but on understanding the logic behind the statistical tools. Depending on the interest of the participants, more time can be spend on elementary or advanced statistics.

Plagiarism and other aspects of scientific integrity

Els M. Maeckelberghe PhD and Prof. Ineke M. Molenaar PhD 

Scientific Integrity is an important topic in research, but what does it actually mean? And how can you be scientifically integer? Are there any guidelines for Scientific Integrity, including plagiarism?

There is no clear definition of what ‘Scientific Integrity’ is supposed to mean. However, it is acknowledged that Scientific Integrity should be guarded, warranted and monitored at both individual level and institutional levels. Plagiarism is probably the most frequent violation of Scientific Integrity. Although definitions are available, there is room for interpretation.

Els Maeckelberghe (lecturer of ethics at the UMCG) and Ineke Molenaar (emeritus Professor in medical education) will host a masterclass on Scientific Integrity. A film about a PhD student at the beginning of her doctoral research will serve as a guide in this course. The audience decides how to respond to realistic scenarios where there is potential for misconduct. The participants will discuss the options and decide together what to do in these specific cases. They will learn a lot about the decisions they make. It is promised to be an interesting and informative masterclass on Scientific Integrity!

In order to get the most out of this masterclass we ask participants to prepare themselves by making two assignments which will be discussed during the session.

How to perform a systematic literature review

Drs. Sjoukje van der Werf

Almost every medical student uses PubMed and Google Scholar to find biomedical articles. But how effective is your search strategy?  You might find too much or it might be difficult to find the key paper.

By knowing and using tricks in PubMed, you can learn to search more effectively. In the masterclass you will learn to use a systematic approach to find most adequate papers in the answer to clinical questions. You will do practical exercises and we will discuss the value of different resources (PubMed, Google Scholar and more (depending on your wishes)).

You are welcome to bring your own topics and questions.

FameLab, can you engage your audience in three minutes?

B.J. van de Laar

X-factor, The Voice, MasterChef, you name it, talent scouting is a big thing and makes prize winning television. But do we embrace science communication talent just as passionately as we embrace young singers and chefs? Or is science communication too important to leave to young talents? But then, they do shape the future of science.

FameLab is of course the number one science communication contest, an international competition inviting scientists, mathematicians and engineers across the globe to take part. The FameLab contestants have only three minutes to convey a scientific concept of their choice. And a PowerPoint is absolutely forbidden. All contestants are judged on the three C’s, content, clarity and charisma by a professional jury.  An unforgettable presentation might make one the winner of a national or international FameLab competition some day, but more than that it’ll prove an essential skill for a PhD-student or post-doc to engage future research partners, funders and all sorts of audiences.

This hands-on masterclass challenges participants to prepare and present a three minute presentation according to the FameLab rules. The masterclass is convened by Bart van de Laar, the host of FameLab – The Netherlands 2016, together with one of the winners of this year’s Groningen FameLab heat.

Critical Reading

Prof. Pieter U. Dijkstra PhD

Medical students are supposed to read an enormous amount of information in text books, on the internet and in medical journals. Research is progressing fast and text books often contain dated information. Recent manuscripts (studies) provide up-to-date information, but are we certain that the presented information is valid and should be implemented in patient care? Critical appraisal of a manuscript enables the assessment of the validity of the study results. In this pre-course class, participants will be provided with a general approach to critically appraise clinical research papers and assess research design, identify selection bias, information bias and confounding factors. Different research designs will be presented and strength and weaknesses will be discussed. Participants will assess a paper critically. The results of the assessment will be discussed in the masterclass.

How to get the job: how to make yourself employable for the medical sector

Hoang C. Nguyen MSc and Rudi Hilberts MSc

No matter where you are in your studies right now, some day you will have to apply for a spot in a residency programme, an additional fellowship or a place in a research group. How can you distinguish yourself from all the other motivated candidates to reach your dream job? How do you build up a professional network and ensure people know who you are? How can you convince someone of your talents? Besides getting these questions answered, in this masterclass you will have the opportunity to practice in role plays how to express yourself during a job interview. You will learn how to apply for a job by doing it. This masterclass will be facilitated by Hoang Nguyen, an experienced trainer and coach working for the Career Services of the University of Groningen, who has enlarged his knowledge about application procedures in the medical sector with the help of Rudi Hilberts. For years, Rudi Hilberts has been involved with job interviews at the UMCG.

You can choose your own track consisting of a combination of three masterclasses:

Pre-courseTrack 1Track 2Track 3Track 4Track 5Track 6Track 7 Track 8
Masterclass ICritical readingMedical statisticsFamelab : science pitchHow to perform a literature reviewScientific integrityHow to presentWriting a scientific abstractHow to get the job : How to make yourself employable for the medical sector
Masterclass II


How to get the job : How to make yourself employable for the medical sectorCritical readingHow to perform a literature reviewScientific intergrityHow to presentWriting a scientific abstractFamelab : science pitchMedical statistics
Masterclass IIIMedical statisticsHow to presentWriting a scientific abstractFamelab : science pitchHow to perform a literature reviewHow to get the job : How to make yourself employable for the medical sectorPlagiarism in scientific researchCritical reading

Your future at the UMCG

If you want to know more about PhD positions and research at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), come to Your Future at the UMCG! The director of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences (GSMS) Martin J. Smit, PhD, will give a detailed presentation about the possibilities of doing research and the opportunities to gain a PhD position at the UMCG. The session will be concluded with a personal story from a PhD graduate.

Science Elective

The Science Elective will be held between the masterclasses. Besides the educational parts of the day, the Science Electives are meant to be a fun part of the day! You can choose between a patient lecture, participate in a debate or think critically about the approach of House M.D. In the patient lecture, a patient with a rare neuromuscular junction disease will tell you all about the disease and the influence it has on her life, together with neurologist prof. Jan Kuks MD PhD. This year, the debate is about one of the latest bills that is subject of discussion within the government and the rest of the Netherlands: the so-called ‘suicide-pill’ that should give elderly who are not ill, but tired of living, the opportunity to die in a comfortable way. During the interactive lecture of House M.D., a doctor specialised on the subject will analyse an episode of the fascinating House M.D. series and discuss the myths and facts of doctor. House.

Patient lecture – Neuromuscular junction disease

Prof. Jan Kuks MD PhD

A 32 years old female was suffering from problems with swallowing and double vision. After making an unexpected rare diagnosis with the appropriate tests she was treated with drugs that completely solved her problem and she is now – after 6 years – doing fine, although still dependent on medication.

In this lecture we will discuss the way to find a diagnosis like this, the molecular basis of the disease and the treatment options. Apart from medico-technical aspects the impact on her life will be discussed as well.
Although we are dealing with a rare disease, the diagnosis never may be missed by any doctor, because the course may be life threatening and effective therapies are available.

Debate - End of life decisions When is life fulfilled ?

Prof. Marian Verkerk PhD (Medical Ethics)
Prof. Frits de Lange PhD (Ethicist, Theologist)
Ms. Petra de Jong, former director of the NVVE (Dutch association for self-directed end of life).

Euthanasia, intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, is a common practice in the Netherlands, and has been subject of discussion for years. However, lately, a new initiative has arisen in the Dutch parliament: the so-called ‘last wish pill’, enabling elderly who are ‘tired of living’, but not suffering from specific medical issues, to end their life. This very controversial topic has aroused widespread interest and discussions in the Dutch society. Can a life be ‘fulfilled’, and if so, when is it fulfilled? Who’s decision is that to make? In short, this is a very difficult but interesting topic to debate about.

Professor in Medical Ethics Marian Verkerk, professor in Ethics and Theologist Frits de Lange and Ms. Petra de Jong, former pulmonologist and former director of the NVVE, are all closely related to the topic and will be present to tell you about their personal experiences.

The facts and myths of dr. House

In this Science Elective we will analyse an episode of the fascinating Dr. House series. During this Science Elective, a specialist on the topic of the episode will discuss the facts and myths of a  dr. House . episode.

Doctor Gregory House is not known for his commitment and empathy towards his patients, staff or interns. These characteristics often place him, his colleagues and patients in problematic situations. However, to what extent is an episode realistic? Are the disease characteristics of the patients similar to those in real life? And are the used diagnostic tools actually suitable? What can we actually learn from this television programme?

These questions will be answered during this interactive course, where participants will be able to judge and discuss the authenticity of a dr. House episode.