IGS General Assembly 20 January 2021 – 2020: what a year
The year of the pandemic! The year of the MOVE! 20.1.2021 Guri Rørtveit, Head of the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care (IGS) held a General Assembly where she wrapped up the highlights of 2020.
Rørtveit has established a tradition of holding 2 General Assemblies annually as a tool to encourage team-building and information exchange across the Department. The January meeting both summarises the year that is finished and sets goals for the year ahead. Nearly 100 participants attended the mostly digital meeting.
- See previous General Assemblies.
2020 – a memorable year
2020 was an exceptional year. IGS and the whole world had to adapt to a “new normal” over a very few weeks early in 2020. Everyone at the Department – almost overnight – had to re-invent their approaches to conducting teaching, research and communication. Suddenly it was mostly digital. Rørtveit congratulated everyone on the exceptional efforts each person has undertaken – working to achieve IGS’ mission of building a better, and healthier, society.
Not only was there a global pandemic, but most of IGS had to pack up their offices and move to a new building August 2020.
However, IGS has not only adapted, but researchers and groups have embarked on new projects, published high-quality results, and some have been awarded prizes for their efforts. Rørtveit expressed her sincere appreciation of the huge efforts and hard work by all staff and students to keep IGS’ research and education programmes up and going.
The numbers are impressive!
IGS is diverse and large. Previously the Department was spread over different buildings and locations around the University. August 2020 much of the Department moved to Årstadvollen to a new building in the Health Cluster of buildings, Alrek. There it joins a number of Departments from the Medical and Psychology Faculties at UiB, as well as clinics and groups from Bergen Commune and Health West.
Alrek – the new Health Cluster opened digitally 13 October. Both Henrik Asheim, the Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, and and Bent Høie, the Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services attended digitally.
On 27 October, the new Pandemic Centre was able to open physically with Minister Asheim present.
- Read more in Norwegian: Alrek opening – Pandemic Centre opening.
IGS Prize winners!
- Two MED Prizes to IGS / CIH researchers
- Andrea Melberg won IGS’s Publication Prize for 2019
- Read more in Norwegian: Publication Prize to Andrea Melberg – Teaching Prize to Lone Holst
IGS researchers / teachers awarded UiB’s Education Prize
At the end of the General Assembly, Rørtveit handed the meeting over to Oddrun Samdal, UiB's Vice-Rector for Education, who officially awarded Lone Holst and Reidun Kjome UiB’s top education prize – the Owl Award. Owl Award winners are automatically nominated for the national education award from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The winner for 2020 will be announced in March 2021.
Related links (in Norwegian)
- Winning course – FARM205
- About awarding the prize
- About the special OSKE exam and volunteering to help with the exam
Many successful research applications
A relatively new funding source for IGS is DIKU. In 2020 there were 3 successful DIKU applications. Rørtveit encourages more people to investigate the DIKU funding possibilities. She also reminded everyone to keep trying to write research applications whether you were successful in 2020 or not –most people tend to learn and improve by trying. Experience makes future applications stronger.
As people come and go, Rørtveit highlighted in particular the new economic personnel replacing the several people who left in 2020. These crucial administrative specialists finished 2020 with considerable challenges as UiB prepared to adopt new administrative systems.
Another important personnel highlight was the “promotion” of Grethe Tell to Professor Emeritus. Tell has 25 years experience at IGS, and has held numerous leadership roles. The Department is pleased that her expertise will continue to support IGS in the years to come.
In 2021, there will be 5 new research positions. This underlines both the quantity and quality of the research activity ongoing at IGS.
Innovation and new initiatives
In addition, IGS is playing a central role in several new initiatives.
The first is a new multidisciplinary Pandemic Centre. “Through research, teaching and dissemination, the Centre will provide innovative knowledge that will enable society to cope with pandemics in the best possible way.” The Centre will involve researchers from all UiB Faculties. Acting Centre Leader, Esperanza Diaz, explains that 2020 has shown us that issues arising during a pandemic require research approaches and expertise across and within a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Diaz underlines that not only is it important to study our current pandemic, but we need to prepare ourselves for the next pandemics.
The second is to be taking a leading role in developing a new curriculum for medical studies. It is called Vestlandslegen and relates particularly to the challenges and realities of Norway’s western region. (link in Norwegian)
The third is a new education and training plan in Health Leadership. The programme will be integrated into the 10th semester of the current medical programme. This will be a national initiative. (link in Norwegian)
Finally, 3 groups at IGS submitted Centre of Excellence applications. This is a record number from one university department and attests to the high quality of the research ongoing at IGS.
Rørtveit concluded her annual wrap-up for 2020 by highlighting the strategic work that has been ongoing at the Department. An updated Research & Innovation strategy for 2020-2024 will soon be published.
While the Health Cluster development has been hampered somewhat by the COVID-19 restrictions, many collaborations and activities are well underway. Learn more, also from UiB’s pages.