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Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO

Sabbatical report

On sabbatical in Uppsala and California.

CCBIO PI Rolf Reed is currently on a sabbatical stay in the US, and we have asked him to share his experience with us.

Almond trees blossoming
Almond trees blossoming in February.
Photo:
Rolf Reed

A sabbatical stay abroad is a privilege and above anything a change of pace and focus from the everyday work routine. While sabbatical stays at different institutions were more common in earlier times, it has become more seldom in general. Norway represents in many ways an exception by still allowing for one year of sabbatical for every six year of full employment. The central question when you apply for a sabbatical leave is where to go and what to focus on. My choice was to return to two universities and research laboratories where I have long collaborations rather than starting something completely new.

Uppsala

I started at University of Uppsala with 3 months last autumn. We picked up on old data that confused us at the time they were generated. With added knowledge since they were generated and also slow time to discuss and analyze them, they finally made sense and were turned into a paper which is now published.

UC Davis

From January, the trip went to California and UC Davis and with affiliations to Department of Human Physiology and Membrane Biology as well as Department of Biomedical Engineering. These departments are known by several at the University of Bergen's Department of Biomedicine during the years. Faculty and staff at Department of Biomedicine have visited on sabbatical stays, an also faculty and staff from the department at Davis have visited the Department of Biomedicine (and previously Department of Physiology) for extended periods of time. In fact sabbatical exchanges between the departments go back as far as 45 years and was started when Professor Larry Rabinowitz from UC Davis visited Bergen for a year. During the years there have been close to 20 exchanges involving nearly many staff and faculty members.

The group where I currently have my main affiliation is headed by Professor K.W. Ferrara in Biomedical Engineering as well with Dr. F-R. Curry who has a long career working with microvascular exchange and has been in Bergen on several sabbatical stays. Dr. Ferrara is working on target cancer therapy using a wide range of approaches, and I am joining in on this together with Dr. Curry. 

The universities

Uppsala was founded in 1477 by permission from the pope. UCD 1909 started as UC Berkeley’s agricultural site and became an independent university in 1959. The Medical School including the Basic Science departments was established in 1970 with Basic Sciences located at UC Davis and the hospital in Sacramento. UC Davis is still the major agricultural university in the US and also has California’s only veterinary school with excellent imaging facilities for small animal research.

Living in Davis

Davis is a small American college/university town with around 60 000 inhabitants with the students accounting for half of the population. Also, there are more than 65 000 bicycles and a public transport system within the city run by the students and using red double decker buses from London. We manage well by using our bicycles, which were bought during a previous sabbatical stay in 2005 and still work well.

Spring came early and the orchards with almonds and peaches were in full bloom in late February. It is a two hour drive to the east to get to Sierra Nevada, a two hour drive to the west to reach San Francisco or the Pacific coast and half way to the coast the road winds through Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.

Summary

What is good here and what is good in Bergen is noteworthy reflection. And it is quite often in favor of Bergen.

Last, but not least. The opportunity of having a viable sabbatical system, rests on generous colleagues who are willing to take over duties at UiB with regard to teaching and whatever else I have been and still is involved in at the department, in CCBIO, and elsewhere. Thank you all for the support and extra efforts that you have put in while I have the privilege to be on an extended sabbatical.

Rolf K. Reed