Mission and Vision

Statement of an international collaboration of junior researchers

Introduction

Scientific research aims to answer relevant clinical questions that are of benefit for the health of a patient or a group of patients. In practice, scientific research is performed by a team of senior researchers (e.g. professors), junior researchers (e.g. PhD students, post-docs), study nurses and clinicians who work closely together. Research activities are usually confined to a single institution, local or national consortia within countries. Large international initiatives are upcoming and increasing in numbers. We have to question the ethics of involving patients in underpowered trials particularly when heterogeneity in study design reduces reasonable integration of results with meta-analysis to look for common effects. International collaboration is necessary to provide sufficient power to answer research questions with clinically relevant outcome measures, particularly for a disease with complex pathophysiology such as spontaneous preterm birth. In a time marked by financial crisis and budget restrictions, we have the responsibility to lead more efficient and effective research projects. 

 

Currently, international networks mainly constitute of senior researchers and participation by junior researchers is unusual. However, in the next decades the current generation of junior researchers will evolve to be the next generation of senior researchers, therefore early involvement of junior researchers will be beneficial to the overall research effort.

The founding of I-Spy

In October 2015, two senior researchers (professor Ben Mol from Adelaide, Australia, and professor Bo Jacobsson from Gothenburg, Sweden) and one junior researcher (Lina Bergman from Uppsala, Sweden) set out a survey to evaluate whether an interest existed to form a platform consisting only of junior researchers in order to promote early international collaboration in the field of spontaneous preterm birth. Several senior researchers across the world were approached to recommend junior researchers interested in participating in an initial collaborative project. Seven countries joined the initiative (Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and United Kingdom). Three different groups were created during winter 2015/2016 with representatives from each participating country in each group. The groups met through digital media and worked on three different themes within preterm birth: twin pregnancy, prediction of preterm birth and tocolysis. During the second European Spontaneous Preterm Birth Congress (ESPBC) in May 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden, the groups met face to face. During this first meeting, two of the three groups, with topics ‘prediction of spontaneous preterm birth’ and ‘tocolysis’, continued their work. 

Countries represented before the Congress   Countries joined at the Congress

Belgium

Denmark

France

Netherlands

United Kingdom

Sweden

Spain

 

Czech Republic

Finland

Norway

Switzerland

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© Federico Migliorelli