IGS Department Day 2018
IGS holds an annual gathering for the whole Department on the second Wednesday in May. Led and organized by the Department’s Research Committee, the Day provides an opportunity for people from this large and diverse Department to meet and mingle.
Department Days also have a strategic focus. Ingvild Fossgard Sandøy, the leader of the Research Committee and the Leader of Research at IGS, explains that the focus in 2018 was to inspire IGS researchers to take a greater role in disseminating their research results to decision-makers. This is particularly important as much of the research ongoing at IGS is relevant for stake-holders in health and policy-makers. To this end, the Research Committee invited a number of speakers from outside IGS to share their experiences and tips. The selected speakers have been successful in disseminating their research and affecting local, national and even international policy.
Engagement! Quality! Inter-disciplinarity! Cross-Faculty collaborations!
Rørtveit highlighted the importance of increasing the relevance of IGS research to society - transferring research results into policy and practice. She encouraged IGS researchers to strive to overcome the barriers that many perceive in transferring the knowledge universities generate to knowledge that can be used outside of academia. She highlighted the local and national strategies in Health&Care21 (HelseOmsorg21 (HO21)).
Rørtveit says that working together, strengthening bonds across research groups, research themes, Departments, Centres and Faculties, makes for better research and better teaching, and underlined that the new health campus, the Alrek Health Cluster, can help to facilitate this process.
Per Bakke began his remarks by underlining that research at the Faculty of Medicine, UiB should be relevant and interdisciplinary / inter-Faculty. Health is always relevant, he says, but relevant to whom? Funders? Scientific community? General public?
Bakke urged IGS researchers to be pro-active. Don’t wait for calls, he stresses, engage so that you can influence call contents. Participate in committees. Attend and organize conferences. Engage – with the public, with politicians, with patient organisations, with industry, …
In this current era of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, Bakke says that it is more important than ever that knowledgeable voices, such as universities, speak out.
He strongly encourages researchers who are not already involved, to engage in inter-disciplinary / inter-Faculty research – to “think outside the box”. He says that it can improve the quality of the research, but it can also be fun, and you can learn new things!
From Research to Policy
The first speaker group involved two researchers with extensive experience with transferring research results into policy and practice.
Brynjulf Stige, is a Professor of Music Therapy at Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, UiB. His work in Music Therapy has gone from being a small 2-person team in a regional college, to being an established research field, and, significantly, since 2013, a recognised treatment for mental health problems in Norway.
Some of Stige’s “take home messages”:
- Ground your activity in high quality, innovative research.
- Be warned that the process of transferring research results is not linear.
- Think strategically at different levels - from the individual, through the micro, meso, exo and finally to the macro.
- Focus on inter-connectiveness– this is more important than simply co-locating.
- Recognise that both researchers and users need one another.
The second highly motivational speaker in this group was Helge Drange, Professor at Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, and the Geophysical Institute, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, UiB.
The common thread throughout Drange’s inspiring talk was about being strategic in one’s approach to communicating beyond academia. Drange believes that an informed (and engaged) general public is the best way to influence policy.
Here are some of Drange’s suggestions:
- Visibility is the first challenge – for this, one needs a strong voice – a group of sufficient size, of sufficient activity and engagement. Collaborate locally, regionally and nationally.
- Use a team approach. Decide together who are best suited to represent the group in the public arena. Support these people. Systematically provide them with feedback to improve their public interactions. Invest in developing clear visual supports to facilitate information sharing.
- Actively engage. Invite yourself to meetings, schools, public arenas. Invite politicians, funders, industry, students to you.
- Leaders need to be “on board”.
- Be where the public is: write chronicles, debate articles, Forskningsdagene, NRK (Shrödingerskatt) … Develop ways of speaking / writing that are accessible and understandable for public audiences.
- Be patient.
Read more from Drange’s home page.
IGS’ new innovative Research Infrastructure
The second group of talks in Department Day 2018 highlighted an innovative new Research Infrastructure at IGS, PraksisNett, which is just being established. PraksisNett is a collaborative, nation-wide initiative that aims to provide a foundation for enhancing the quality of primary care research in Norway. The infrastructure will facilitate the recruitment of primary care patients to clinical studies and will thereby increase the power and predictability of such studies.
Bjørn Bjorvatn, Professor at IGS, leads the co-ordinating node of PraksisNett. He underlines the huge, untapped potential the infrastructure aims to access: 70% of the population in Norway visits a General Practitioner at least once a year.
Johan Gustav Bellika, Professor at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research and the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Tromsø, spoke via Skype to explain some of the more technical details about how PraksisNett will work, including how it will respond to data security and private data concerns.
The final talks of the day highlighted two ongoing research projects at IGS.
The first, by Rolv Skjærven, involved research results from Norway’s unique Birth Registry resource, which are showing that it may be better for women to continue to reproduce after a problematic first pregnancy, contrary to conventional beliefs.
The second, by Thorkild Tylleskär, addressed the need to continue to work on the SDG goals concerning improving both maternal and neonatal mortality. Tylleskär underlined that while both mother and child mortality rates are improving, the improvement for neonates is slow. Recognising that is the first breaths of exhausted new-borns that is one of the most common and easy-to-address challenges, he and his partners have been working with a Norwegian company to test a relatively low-cost, relatively non-invasive Supraglottic Device that can be used by most health staff with training.
Thanks to the Research Committee for an informative and inspiring Day!
**Faculty Day at the Faculty of Medicine – 14 June 2018.