Overview of the COSMIC training programme

The COSMIC multidisciplinary multi-sectoral international training programme addresses scientific and transferable skills required to become a systems medicine professional equipped to tackle complex clinical challenges and to become key players in translating fundamental knowledge into clinical practice. COSMIC aims to better align research fellows with changing paradigms in basic and clinical research.

Our research project training adheres to EU principles for Innovative Doctoral Training . Research fellows will be allowed to take responsibility for their research and career at an early stage supported by their Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP) and a self-assessment tool developed by the Dutch University Medical Centers that reflects the competences to be acquired during the project.

 COSMIC Training

Figure: Overview of the COSMIC training programme.

The training programme reflects changes in science by

  1. Enhancing the culture of Open Science (Open Access, Open Source, Open Educational resources): research fellows will be guided to make experimental data, software, and educational material publicly available;
  2. Innovation and entrepreneurship: Academic and non-academic PIs will discuss fellows’ research in context of project management, supervising a team, IPR, and translation to product, clinic, and business;
  3. Public engagement: fellows will be trained to communicate their research to non-scientists.

COSMIC training is acknowledged by training certificates assigning EC credits according to the European Credit Transfer Systems (ECTS)


Local training and courses provided by the host universities and companies

The individual research projects of each fellow allow them to become skilled researchers. In addition, the academic and company training programmes involve obligatory research and transferable training and courses directed towards fellows’ personalised research projects. Topics include

  1. General scientific skills (legal/ethics aspects, research integrity, animal experiments, patient-related research);
  2. Technical skills (e.g., computational biology, laboratory skills);
  3. Transferable skills (e.g., scientific writing, presenting, industry/business).


COSMIC Network-based training: research and transferable skills

COSMIC offers online courses, workshops, science cafes, patient seminars, journal clubs, secondments, and annual research meetings to complement the training provided by the host institutes. This training programme will also facilitate face-to-face meetings to stimulate discussion, collaboration, and team building between the fellows, principal investigator, visiting scientists, external trainers, and external advisory board. Fellows more experienced in specific topics will support less experienced fellows and/or will be involved in teaching. COSMIC includes e-learning activities that are supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (video, webcasts, tests, quizzes) provided by Elevate Health and video conferencing (Skype/WebEx). COSMIC provides a web platform to support the preparatory e-lectures of the workshops.


Online journal club

Fellows will be trained to critically read, evaluate, and explain research papers using video conferencing and the COSMIC web platform. The journal club will distribute two key scientific systems medicine paper each year among all fellows. One fellow will take the lead to analyse the paper before presenting it to the group at large. Papers will be discussed among all fellows after presentation aiming to generate new ideas for their research. The journal club  facilitates further interaction between the fellows and PIs.


Science cafes

We will organize two Science Cafes. Fellows will present complex research to non-specialists. A specific aim is to help researchers to better understand public interest in priorities for science and also the public's concerns. The Science Cafes itself will be organised during the evening in a cafe to create an informal atmosphere and will be open for all public. Patients and patient organisations, companies, and other stake holders will be explicitly invited.


Patient seminars

We organize two patient seminars in which patients and medical doctors give a lecture about disease signs and symptoms as well as socioeconomic consequences.



To facilitate exposure to different environments, collaboration, exchange of expertise, and multi-disciplinary training, all fellows spend several weeks to months in the group of at least two other principal investigators. Each ‘laboratory’ fellow will visit at least one computational beneficiary and vice versa. Fellows hosted at the companies will be seconded to a university beneficiary. Several academic fellows will be hosted by companies


International COSMIC-independent meetings

Fellows attend and network/present at COSMIC-independent (inter)national scientific meetings In addition, to enable insight into the commercial side of life science and ventures of enterprise development the fellows will be prompted to visit and interact with commercial entities and innovative start-ups at bio partnering meetings.


COSMIC contribution to structuring and sustaining doctoral training

To advance systems medicine in Europe it is essential to improve, extend, harmonise and sustain training programmes. COSMIC approaches this through:
  • Harmonisation/exchange systems medicine-related training. Training approaches and resources used by university graduate/PhD schools and private partners will be compared, combined and exchanged to obtain effective training in systems medicine;
  • Cross-fertilisation and collaboration between Marie Curie ETN projects. COSMIC links with the H2020 Enlightten (Prof. Hühn, EAB; Prof. Meyer-Hermann) and EpiPredict (Prof. van Kampen ) ETN consortia that also pursue systems medicine. Opportunities to exchange ESRs between the ETN consortia or to have a joint meeting will be actively explored;
  • Interaction with national medicine research schools. COSMIC interacts with national initiatives to improve and exchange training, and to provide research fellows with opportunities to become involved. For example, Prof. van Kampen is member of the Dutch Systems Biology Research School (BioSB), while Prof. Meyer-Hermann is involved in the HZI Graduate School for Infection Research, focusing on experimental methods in infection and immunity;
  • Linking with international training initiatives. Dr. van Gelder  is involved in several international training initiatives: Coordinator of ‘bioinformatics at school’ for students/teachers of secondary schools, member of the executive board of GOBLET (Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education & Training), co-lead of ELIXIR Training, and Training Coordinator of ELIXIR-NL (infrastructure/bioinformatics for life sciences), and member of the education committee of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). This provides ample opportunities to obtain exchange approaches/material from various related and established initiatives to improve training. COSMIC will also link with EASyM and ISBE training activities;
  • Involving secondary school and university programmes.COSMIC PIs and research fellows will incorporate systems medicine best practices, tools, and knowledge in (academic) education programmes contributing to sustainability and extension of systems medicine training.


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