Training the next generation of scientist in musculoskeletal research is key to the ECTS strategy. ECTS offers a comprehensive training and networking programme for students, clinicians and early careers researchers in the form of the yearly PhD training course, the Mellanby training course and the ECTS Academy. The PhD training course is central to the vision of ECTS that successful research in musculoskeletal diseases requires the crosstalk of basic and clinical researchers. For this reason a major emphasis during the training course is to enhance the networking skills of the participating students. Through the interaction with senior academics that teach on the courses, the students are encouraged to plan their careers and engage in discussions with leaders in the field, thus establishing a comprehensive network of contacts. Students value highly this possibility to present and discuss their research in a small and friendly environment with plenty of time for interactions.
The PhD training course was established in 2007 by Bente L. Langdahl before she became president of the society. The annual course is held in different European cities and the ECTS training committee chair develops the programme in conjunction with the local organiser and the members of the ECTS training committee. This approach ensures cutting edge research and new technologies are presented in an integrated manner. The first day of the course is devoted to introducing the fundamental concepts of basic and clinical musculoskeletal research before more specialised presentations take place.
When Miep Helfrich took over the role of ECTS training committee chair in 2010 she established poster presentations for second year students and hands-on workshops as part of the training course. These workshops have over the years covered a variety of subjects such as grant writing, imaged-based data analysis, histology, qPCR and statistical analysis.
During my tenure as training committee chair, the poster presentation session has become an integral part of student training with detailed feedback on their research project by senior academics. The newly established speed mentoring sessions give the students the opportunity to get to know the senior academics and ask for career advice. For the 2016 course, together with Astrid Bakker we further developed problem solving and teamwork training.
Everybody who has been involved with the training course over the years has felt privileged to teach and mentor the students. Some of these students are now group leaders themselves and have become members of the ECTS academy, demonstrating the strength of the ECTS concept of investing into the training of the next generation of scientists.