Last Year's Pre-course

On Monday the 5th of June, the Pre-course of ISCOMS 2023 will take place. The Pre-course 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 social programme activity will be held.

Below you can find the programme for the Pre-course of ISCOMS 2022.


08:15 - 09:00
09:00 - 09:30
Day opening
09:30 - 11:10
Course 1
11:10 - 11:50
11:50 - 13:20
Science Elective
13:20 - 14:30
14:30 - 16:00
Course 2
16:00 - 17:00
Speed keynote lectures
17:00 - 17:30
Your Future at the UMCG
19:00 - 23:00
Social programme
Speed keynotes


Dr. Mostafa El Moumni MD PhD

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? Why should we abandon null-hypothesis significance testing (NHST)?
  • How to interpret effect sizes, confidence intervals and meta-analytic thinking?
  • How do we calculate a sample size?

Based on the article of Selles et al. (2021) analyzing the effect of treatment (operative vs nonoperative) on the functional outcome in patients with a displaced intra-articular distal radial fracture, we will go through several steps of the statistical process. Starting with descriptive statistics, and refreshing the theory of hypothesis testing, we will end up with how to interpret the results of the analyses and integrate the findings across similar studies using meta-analytic thinking.

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

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 focus of this masterclass will be on oral presentations but at the end we will give some dos and don’ts on poster presentations as well.

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

R.G. Pleijhuis MD PhD

What is the probability that an individual patient will respond to a certain therapy? Or will it develop serious side effects? Clinical prediction models can be used to provide answers to these important questions, therewith providing a solid basis for clinical decision making.

The amount of clinical prediction models published in the literature has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Also, more and more attention is being paid to machine learning algorithms for clinical application. But when is it then that only a few prediction models make it to the clinic? And do machine learning algorithms perform better than conventional prediction models?

In this interactive masterclass, R.G. Pleijhuis MD PhD, internist, and founder of prediction platform Evidencio, will provide an answer to above-mentioned questions. You will learn how to create a fully functional web-based prediction model yourself in just a few simple steps. Finally, possibilities to judge clinical prediction models on their merits will be discussed.

Girbe Buist 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.

Bart van de Laar, MSc

X-factor, Got Talent shows, 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. Moreover, you’ll learn to master an essential skill for a PhD-student or post-doc: 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 one of the winners of last year’s FameLab heat.

Ilse Broeders, project manager Research Office Lifelines

Why do some people get ill? What are risk factors and how can we bring earlier diagnosis, better treatments, and effective prevention a step closer? Large scale population data and biobanks can help researchers to unravel this complex puzzle of gene, environment, and lifestyle influences.

Lifelines data and biobank collects and shares data and biomaterials for more healthy years.

This diverse and big dataset from over 167,000 inhabitants in the north of the Netherlands includes family relations which makes it very useful for intergenerational, multidisciplinary research.

In this interactive masterclass, Ilse Broeders, will show you the Lifelines public health dataset, with variables like, health conditions, (chronic) diseases, smoking behavior, diet scores, physical activity, education level, work status and quality of life on an aggregated level by age and ZIP codes. You will learn how to use these data to search for relations and differences in health between certain ages and areas in the region.

Prof. H.H. Kampinga

The abstract of a scientific paper or grant is the gateway to being noted and read. If you do not roll out the red carpet, people will pass by! A good abstract should not only present the essential and sound features of your research and radiate its high quality, but also should advertise why your findings are relevant and how they are relevant.

In this Masterclass, we will have an interactive discussion about the DOs and DONTs in writing a convincing scientific abstract.

If this abstract did not convince you to come to this workshop, you should still come to teach me how to make a better one.

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! Professor Han Moshage from the faculty of Medical Sciences 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

Prof. Berry Kremer MD PhD

Chairman Dept. of Neurology at UMCG

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant hereditary neurodegenerative disorder with an estimated prevalence in the western world of about 10/100,000. Characteristic clinical features are a gradual deterioration of cognition and behavior, with manifestations such as apathy, mood disorder, impulse control impairment and violent outbursts, and motor impairment. The best-known motor manifestation is chorea (hence the old name: Huntington’s chorea), but other hyperkinetic motor impairments such as dystonia, myoclonus and tremor as well as hypo- and bradykinesia can be observed in many patients.

The signs and symptoms are related to the distribution of the neuropathology: a progressive degeneration of medium sized spiny interneurons in the neostriatum and, to a lesser extent, of cortical neurons. Although motor manifestations are the most obvious disease manifestations, patients and their families suffer particularly from the cognitive and psychiatric deterioration. Due to the gradual progression and the multi-domain impairments, onset age is difficult to pinpoint but onset is generally after age 25. Onset range is remarkably broad, with many patients starting after age 60 but, also, 10% before age 20.

Although HD is yet incurable, modern genome wide association studies have identified modifier genes that retard or, alternatively, speed up onset age and disease progression, thus suggesting potential targets for disease modifying therapies.  An exciting development are trials with intrathecal anti-sense oligonucleotides that target intraneuronal translation of the mutated gene product.

In this lecture, prof. Kremer will present videos of patients with HD and will highlight aspects of this fascinating disease.

Dr. Marco Versluis MD PhD

In this Science Elective we will analyse a gynaecological 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 like those in real life? And are the used diagnostic tools suitable? What can we 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.

emProf Cees Th. Smit Sibinga, MD, PhD, FRCP Edin, FRCPath

Every point in the process of health care can contain an inherent risk. Its nature and scale vary greatly based on the context of health care provision and its availability, infrastructure, and resourcing within and across countries.

The challenge for all health systems, and all organizations providing health care, is to maintain a heightened awareness to detect and ameliorate safety risks as well as address all sources of potential harm.

Patient safety is a framework of organized activities that creates cultures, processes, procedures, behaviours, technologies, and environments in health care that consistently and sustainably: lower risks, reduce the occurrence of avoidable harm, make error less likely and reduce its impact when it does occur.

Patient safety is also a strategic priority for modern health care and is central to countries’ efforts in working towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

In more recent years, the focus has also been on economic losses and access problems due to unsafe care, that may become a major barrier in achieving UHC. Research studies have shown that an average of 1 in 10 patients is subject to an adverse event while receiving hospital care in high income countries. The estimate for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) suggests that up to 1 in 4 patients are harmed, with 134 million adverse events occurring annually due to unsafe care in hospitals, contributing to around 2.6 million deaths. Overall, 60% of deaths in LMICs, from conditions amenable to health care are due to unsafe and poor-quality care. Mostly, people link patient safety with hospital-based care, though unsafe care is a system-wide problem. Half of the global disease burden arising from patient harm originates in primary and ambulatory care.

The WHO launched in 2020 a Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 towards eliminating avoidable harm in health care, with 6 Strategic Objectives.

This ISCOMS 2022 Science Elective will provide a more detailed insight in the global burden of unsafe health care and how to mitigate at least avoidable harm.

Drs. Froukje Hoogenboom, Ritchie Geitenbeek, Daan Sikkenk, Marije Zwakman

This Science Elective will be a debate about robots in the operating room. The topic will be introduced by Dr. Froukje Hoogenboom, abdominal and robotic surgeon in the UMCG. Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform complex procedures with more precision and control. However, the procedure requires expensive technology and the added value for patients is under debate.

Three PhD-students will talk about their research in this field. After their presentations we will discuss aspects of the topic by using several statements where we ask your opinion.