Our past PhD and FOIE GRAS Retreat Day

The PhD and ‘Foie Gras’ Retreat Day held in Helmholtz Institute at Munich (Germany) during the 29th and 30th of October 2018 served as an opportunity for all ESRs involved in the Foie Gras Project to provide updated results on each fellow’s research work and to get more insight about the two main companies and one association of our MSCA ETN (Mediagnost, Micro-Biolytics and APDP, respectively).

We have collected feedback from some of the ESRs based on their experiences after the meeting and included it below:

Inês Simões

Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology (NENCKI), Poland

ESR 1 - Ines SimoesThe first PhD and Foie Gras Retreat Day was a great opportunity for us ESRs to share the most recent research work developed in the network. Importantly, very active discussions between ESRs, PIs and companies contributed in a very positive way for the continuous development and improvement of all the projects. We could not start in a better way to welcome the two new ESRs.

Of interest, was also the second day of the meeting devoted to the companies which are partners of the project. It was inspiring to hear about the history of each company, since the creation of the business idea until the present days. I want also to emphasize the importance of the talk given about patents and what could be patented on science.

Sara Guerra

National Research Council (CNR), Italy

ESR 2 - Sara GuerraThis first PhD Day of the Foie Gras project was, in my opinion, the most successful and scientific from all the meetings we had before. On the first day, the ESRs presentations and the consequent discussion of results and possible improvements in the projects of each ESR were very interesting and I think they were the core point of all this retreat. This meeting could not be better to welcome our two new ESRs.

The second day was dedicated to presentations from companies within the FOIE GRAS consortium. It was inspiring to hear the stories from the representatives sharing their life stories and the difficult path they took to established themselves as scientific entrepreneurs. It was a refreshing perspective to what can be our future.”

Inês Mateus

French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), France

ESR3 - Ines Mateus“In my opinion, the first PhD day/FOIE GRAS retreat was a huge success! Unlike the midterm meeting earlier this year, all ESRs received constructive criticism to later apply on their work in order to make their projects and themselves evolve.

On another topic, the presentations given by the invited speakers served as great inspiration to us all. The representatives of each company within the FOIE GRAS consortium displayed to us a path of science away from academia that some of us will probably pursue in the future, despite its ups and downs.

For me the take-home message of it all was: hard-work can lead to a lot of migraines but also success and no matter how bad things seem the road is always brighter ahead.”

Getachew Debas Belew

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), Coimbra, Portugal

ESR 4 - Getachew Debas Belew“The first Foie Gras Retreat and PhD Day was a great success, congratulations to the organisers! It was perfect.  I personally got an immense opportunity to learn a lot of things in both academic and non-academic career paths.

The first day was mainly occupied by each ESRs work/progress presentations and followed by an open and constructive discussions, comments and suggestions which really creates a friendly environment to grasp information for future activities in the project. Moreover, the second day was very inspiring, the representatives from each company in the Foie Gras consortium shared their stories with us, career paths from academia to industry, showed us another career opportunity we could pursue in the future. It was also a pleasure to meet the new ESRs (ESR9 and ESR11). It ended up as a very fruitful and valuable meeting.”

Gabriella Benedetta Sistilli

Institute of Physiology of the CAS (IPHYS), Czech Republic

ESR 5 - Gabriella Benedetta Sistilli“This our first PhD Retreat Day turned out to be a great opportunity to talk in more details about our projects and to give and receive useful hints for future, in term of scientific techniques and also more general advices.

The second day of the retreat, dedicated to the talks of the invited speakers, was very inspiring. These scientists/entrepreneurs shared with us their life story and how they arrived to the industry and this gave us another point of view besides the classic academic career to pursue after getting a PhD.”


Bárbara Patrício

National Research Council (CNR), Italy

ESR 6 - Bárbara Patrício“The first PhD day and FOIE GRAS retreat was, in my opinion, the best meeting we have had so far in this project. A friendly collaborating environment could be felt throughout the entire meeting.
On the first day, all ESRs had the opportunity to present the results obtained so far from their individual research projects. The comments and suggestions from the supervisors were very constructive and crucial to define the next steps in terms of work plan.
The second day was dedicated to the companies that are part of the project. It was truly inspiring to listen to them talking about their own experiences on the transition from academia to industry, how to deal with the inherent failure and create the ideal opportunities to always grow and improve.
It was a great pleasure to meet again everyone involved in the consortium, especially the ESRs! I hope more meetings like this one happen in the near future.”

Emilio Molina Molina

University of Bari Aldo Moro (UNIBA), Italy

Foto pequeña“The PhD and FOIE GRAS Retreat Day served us as an immense opportunity to focus exclusively on the research work of all of us ESRs and PIs in this network. The fact that it was organized with this sole scope helped in the development of the sessions, with crucial interventions of both companies and diabetic association in Portugal. Of importance, was the intervention of Dr. Marcin Krawczyk from the Saarland University at Homburg in genetic predisposition and fatty liver disease.

As for the presentations carried out by each company, it was novel the incorporation of a talk about patents in research and how to efficiently design our own trademark without having any outsider influencing our making.

Of interest too, were the examples shown by many of the people forming the consortium in previous experiences in the industry sector, fails and achievements, and the extremely valuable learning process throughout it all.”

Rui Silva

Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona (IIBB-CSIC), Spain

rui silva“The first PhD Retreat day was a special meeting which marked my official start as member of the FOIE GRAS network and gave me the opportunity to meet the other ESRs, PI’s and partners involved in this project.

The first day was really fruitful and inspiring. All ESRs had the possibility to show the work they have been performing in the last months and get important hints to improve their individual projects. For me, these presentations were a good way to get some insights about the ESRs’ projects and the FOIE GRAS project in general. Since I am just starting, my presentation was just an overview of what I am planning to do but it was important to have some feedback and advices from PI’s and ESRs in order to guide my research project.

The second day was dedicated to presentations carried out by the industrial partner of the network. This session turned out to be really interesting and useful. It opened my mind to the entrepreneurship as a possible alternative career after finishing the PhD.”

Jelena Stevanovic

ESR 10 - Jelena Stevanovic“The 1st PhD and ‘Foie Gras’ Retreat Day held in Helmholtz Institute in Munich was the most fruitful and successful of all ‘Foie Gras’ meetings. The exchange of scientific knowledge and active discussion of ESRs presentations contributed to the eventual improvement of individual projects and ‘Foie Gras’ project in general. It was a pleasure discussing the projects in a friendly atmosphere and with constructive comments. Furthermore, paying a special attention to industrial partners of this project not only that expanded our knowledge about non-academic career, but it was also inspiring hearing the stories shared from companies’ representatives about career path from academia to industry.

This meeting was an excellent opportunity to welcome two new ESRs and it was a pleasure meeting all the members of the project.”

Harshita Shanmugam

University of Bari Aldo Moro (UNIBA), Italy

Harshitha photo“I had a fantastic time at The PhD day and FOIE GRAS Retreat day held in Munich, the speakers were all brilliant and inspiring, congratulations to the team for organising the event! It was so great to be a part of it. I believe it was a great opportunity to connect with the scientific community, which inspired me to approach my research work with new strategies and the feedbacks from the members of the team were greatly appreciated.

On the second day, presentations from the industrial partners of FOIE GRAS motivated me to learn the lesson not to give up no matter what! And the road to success is always not easy, but the constant hard work makes it possible.

And of course, I could not have had another better way to be welcomed into the team other than this PhD day retreat. Thank you all for your kind gesture.”

Adriana Fontes

German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), München, Germany

I believe this meeting was very important to exchange scientific knowledge on the several ongoing projects in the network, but also to have input on the companies that are also partners in Foie Gras. To know the challenges that we can face if we decide to go to industry is crucial for success. It was also important for a proper welcoming to the two new ESRs, ESR9 and ESR11 that, in this way, were able to meet all the fellows and the partners in the consortium, along with the work that is being developed.

For me, it is was a real pleasure to participate in the meeting and reconnect with all the people involved in Foie Gras, especially the ESRs!”

Mireia Alemany i Pagès

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), Coimbra, Portugal

dav“This 1st FOIE GRAS PhD Day, held in Munich from the 29-30th of October and hosted by the FOIE GRAS partner Helmholtz Zentrum marked the beginning of a series of network meetings that add value to the already established Network Schools organized every year by the project. Rather than formal education through lecturing and workshops, these PhD Days foster learning by eliciting a scientific discussion led by the ESRs and the presentation of their work, as well as the interconnectedness of the different research projects. In addition, the second day was dominated by presentations of the industry partners of the project and other non-academic lecturers that broadened our view on the career opportunities that our current position has to offer. It was a great and valuable experience overall.”

  • Advisory Board and Principal Investigators:


  • Fellows:

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-31 at 15.48.19.jpeg

We look forward to the next PhD Day!

The ESRs Board

*Featured photo credits: Inês Simões



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