On Monday the 3rd 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, two speed keynote lectures, a Science Elective and to finish the day, a spectacular salsa workshop is organised to improve your dancing!


Simeon J.S. Ruiter MSc
Simeon J.S. Ruiter MSc Click here for more information
Sietske A. Berghuis MD PhD
Sietske A. Berghuis MD PhDClick here for more information


(bio)Medical Statisics

Johannes G.M. Burgerhof MSc

Sacha la Bastide-van Gemert MD

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

  • 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 et al. (2002) 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.

FameLab, can you engage your audience in three minutes?

Bart J. van de Laar MD

X-factor, The Voice, MasterChef, you name it. Talent scouting is a big thing and results in prize winning television. However, do we embrace science communication talent just as passionately as we embrace young singers and chefs? Or is science communication too important to be in the hands of young talents? On the other hand, they do shape the future of science.

FameLab is the number one international science communication contest, inviting scientists, mathematicians and engineers across the globe to take part. The FameLab contestants only have three minutes to convey a scientific concept of their choice to a professional jury. It is not allowed to use a PowerPoint or any other tool to facilitate the clarity of the presentation. All contestants are judged on the three C’s: content, clarity and charisma.  An unforgettable presentation might make one the winner of a national or international FameLab competition someday. Morover, you’ll learn to master 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, Dutch FameLab pioneer and regular local/national convenor, together with 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 textbooks, on the internet, and in medical journals. Research is progressing fast and textbooks often contain dated information. Recent manuscripts provide up-to-date information.  However, 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 strengths and weaknesses will be discussed. Participants will assess a paper critically. The results of the assessment will be discussed in the masterclass.

Preparing oral 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. The presenter will engage participants in a highly interactive format by crafting storylines and structures from material that they provide. The main focus of this masterclass will be on oral presentations but at the end we will give some do’s and don’ts on poster presentations as well.



How do scientific reviewers review your article?

Prof. J.A. Lisman PhD

After years of meticulous study design, data analysis and perfecting your article, there is only one task left; getting your article published!

How do you choose the right scientific journal for your manuscript, and what happens after the submission of your article to your journal of choice? Which features render your paper attractive to the editor and how do you increase the likelihood that your manuscript will be sent out for review? What will convince the reviewers that your work is good and how do you respond to their comments? How do you react to a rejection by the editor, would you accept it or fight for your article?

Prof. J.A. Lisman PhD will help you to find the answers of all these questions in this very interactive Masterclass.



Ann 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.

50 shades of scientific integrity: a VIW (a Very Interactive Workshop)

Dr. Els L.M. Maeckelberghe PhD

Scientific integrity is an important topic in research, but what does it actually mean? What is ethically sound behavior? 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 and institutional levels. Fraud, Falsification and Plagiarism (also known as FFP) are probably the most wellknown violations of scientific integrity. 
Dr. Els L.M. Maeckelberghe PhD, lecturer of ethics at the UMCG, 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. It is promised to be an interesting and informative masterclass on Scientific Integrity!

How to make a research poster?

Erik A.M. Veschuuren MD PhD

Prof. Tjip S. van der Werf MD PhD

After you have been busy with your research for months to years, it is finally finished! You now would like to share your work with the rest of the world and send your abstract to a congress. One of the ways to present your work is through a research poster.

Research posters are widely used in the academic world. Most of the congresses give presenting-participants the opportunity to present their work with a poster presentation. The research posters will summarize the research you’ve done and will help to generate a discussion about the topic.

A research poster is usually a mixture of a short text with pictures, graphs, tables, etc. During the congress, the presenter stands by the poster display while other participants of the congress can come, view the presentation and interact with the presenter.

During this interactive course you will assess a number of posters and discuss this with the other participants. You can discuss the points of improvement and you will learn how an excellent poster differs from a good poster.

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

Track 1Track 2Track 3Track 4Track 5Track 6Track 7Track 8
Preparing oral presentations: Capture the public and make your pointCritical readingFamelab: Can you engage your audience in three minutes?Medical StatisticsScientific IntegrityHow to make a research posterAn abstract: The invitation to your researchHow do scientific journals review your articles
An abstract: the invitation to your researchPreparing oral presentations: Capture the public and make your pointHow do scientific journals review your articlesCritical readingMedical StatisticsScientific IntegrityFamelab: Can you engage your audience in three minutes?How to make a research poster?

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, a debate, thinking critically about the approach of House MD and listening to a fascinating Triple-B lecture.

In the patient lecture, a patient who has suffered from psychosis will tell you everything you want to know about the disease and the influence it has on the patient’s life, together with Frank D. van Es MD.

This year, the debate will be about ethics considering organ donation. The leading statement during this debate will be: ‘People with a healthy lifestyle should be placed higher on the waiting list for donor organs’. Two experts will set the stage for a thorough reflection on the ethical challenges facing us.

During the interactive lecture of House MD, a doctor specialised on the subject will analyse an episode of the fascinating House MD series and discuss the myths and facts of doctor House.

A new subject this year will be the Triple-B lecture. Triple-B stands for ‘from Bed to Bench and Back’. In the Triple-B lectures the emphasis will be on the relationship of scientific research (bench) with the clinical practice in the hospital (bed). The Triple-B lecture of this year will be about pre-eclampsia and will be given by Prof. Sicco Scherjon PhD.

Patient lecture

Frank D. van Es MD

Psychosis is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as loss of contact with reality. Patients experiencing psychosis may report hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) or delusional beliefs (false beliefs about what is taking place or who one is). The combination of both can cause an often severe disruption to perception, thinking, emotion, and behaviour.

Depending on its severity, a psychotic episode may thus be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behaviour, as well as difficulty with social interaction and, impairment in carrying out daily life activities.

As a result, patients with psychosis are caught in a hostile environment. They are therefore in need of your dedication and medical skills: how can you meet their needs? How can you avoid stigma and promote health and social recovery?

During the patient lecture you will be able to ask questions to a psychiatrist and a patient who has suffered from psychosis.


Triple-B stands for ‘from Bed to Bench and Back’. In the Triple-B lectures the emphasis will be on the relationship of scientific research (bench) with the clinical practice in the hospital (bed). The Triple-B lecture of this year will be about preeclampsia and will be given by Sicco A. Scherjon MD PhD.

It takes two to tango: maternal-fetal immune interactions

Pre-eclampsia, affecting 3-8% of all pregnancies, is one of the main pregnancy complications of which the pathophysiology is only partly understood and treatment is given when the baby is deliverd. It is worldwide responsible for a majority of maternal morbidity, fetal and neonatal mortality and (neurodevelopment) morbidity.  In this presentation we will discuss epidemiological arguments why the immune system is involved in the pathogenesis, elucidating the extreme value of unique clinical observations, resulting in fundamental research approaches in the field of (reproductive) immunology. The importance of T-cell regulation, the need for cellular recognition and induction of T cell tolerance mechanism are resulting in the start of innovative intervention trials at the UMCG. They will show how research and patient care benefits from bedside to (lab) bench interaction and translation of findings at the laboratory to clinical study protocols.


A transplant is the replacement of a poor functioning or completely non-functional organ/tissue of a patient, usually by a donor organ. Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, small intestine, cornea and liver. Parts of organs and tissues such as skin, liver or bone marrow are also transplanted.

The difference between an organ transplant and a tissue transplant is that an organ transplant can be lifesaving, while a tissue transplant is not necessarily.

Many lifes have already been saved through the possibility of transplantation. Yet some ethical questions arise around organ donation.

Currently more donor organs are needed than there are available. This raises the question what measures can be taken to solve this discrepancy. During the pre-course debate, we will address the statement: ‘People with a healthy lifestyle must be placed higher on the waiting list for donor organs’.

Possible ethical questions one could ask are: Does someone who has obesity have as much right to an organ as someone who has a healthy weight? Does an athlete have the same right to an organ as someone who hardly moves?

Dr. Els L.M. Maeckelberghe and Machlon Huiting will lead this debate.

Dr. Els Maeckelberghe, ethicist at the UMCG, will lead the debate and will challenge the audience to think about what today and the future holds in stock for us. She will invite everybody to engage in setting an agenda for responsible engineering of life.

Machlon Huiting, transplantation coordinator at the UMCG, can tell us everything about organ donation.

House MD

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