Last week, the 5th CANDY General Assembly took place in the beautiful Dutch city of Nijmegen. Since the beginning of the project, we have been planning to meet in the hometown of our coordinator, and finally could met there in person.
On Monday, 15 January 2024, more than 20 Early Career Research (ECRs) met in the afternoon and took part in the CANDY Master Class. This year, the focus was on career paths and how to sustain and fund research. In the first session, Ian Cameron from One Planet Research Center introduced the basics of business marketing and research exploitation. Afterwards, CANDY partner Lucas Noldus gave an excellent overview of his career path from PhD to founder and CEO of a globally successful company, Noldus IT. To conclude the Master Class, Jan Buitelaar gave a talk on writing grant proposals and gave valuable advice on timing (plan early!) and the importance of finding the right consortium partners.
In the evening, our first working dinner took place at our conference venue, the Van der Valk Hotel in Nijmegen – Lent.
The next morning, Tuesday 13 January, the coordinator and host Jan Buitelaar officially opened the 5th CANDY General Assembly and gave a short overview of the project results, the challenges and a motivating outlook on the last year of our CANDY project.
The first day of the meeting was packed with progress reports on all scientific work packages and clinical, preclinical and translational breakout sessions where details were discussed, decisions made and timelines agreed for the successful completion of the project.
To liven up the programme, we invited Prof. Rogier Kievit from RadboudUMC to give the keynote lecture. He gave a very nice and informative overview of his research on how and why cognitive abilities change across the lifespan.
We ended the first day of the meeting with a working lunch at Tomi Sushi & Grill, a Japanese restaurant in the historic centre of Nijmegen.
The second day of the meeting focused on CANDY’s legacy. The work in the areas of communication, exploitation, training and ethics was presented, and the project management reported on the upcoming administrative issues in the final year of CANDY.
The Scientific Advisory Board, which mainly attended the meeting remotely, as well as the Exploitation and Innovation Management Board on site had a closed discussion and presented their overview and recommendations to the consortium in the final session. Overall, the SAB is satisfied with the progress made, although it emphasised that more focus should be placed on the translational aspect between animal testing and clinical work – not only for the test battery, but also for the immune profiles and microbiome analysis. The Exploitation and Innovation Committee discussed intellectual property and exploitation issues and discussed a roadmap for identifying the potential for intellectual property and a roadmap for an exploitation plan.
At the end of the meeting, Jan Buitelaar summarised the most important topics and thanked all participants for a very productive and stimulating meeting.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to and participated in this 5th CANDY General Assembly on site and remotely. See you at our final CANDY meeting 🥳.