Last time in Hamburg…

Last time in Hamburg…

19 June 2019, by Luis Fernandes

Moin, Hamburg! We are back to kick-start 2019 with a three-day learning marathon. On your marks, get set, GO! We began on January 14th with Dr. Tanja Meyer-Threschan who spoke us about funding applications and research proposals. I am sure everyone has cool research ideas, but what about the means to carry them out? After almost two years in this project we know that research is a tough thing. But finding funding opportunities is definitely tougher. Many great ideas rot in someone’s drawer because they lack the resources to be materialized. Dr. Meyer-Threschan has several years of experience on both sides of the table, that is, both as a researcher and as someone who sits in different funding bodies. We used the day not only to break down a research proposal into its building blocks and craft a successful one, but also to learn to reason as funding bodies. It was extremely valuable to understand how these bodies think, assess and decide on what to fund. I feel we were saved a lot of time in the future, and some common mistakes.

We then proceeded with soft skills courses. That is right, soft skills courses. PhD students in technical fields, such as health economics, tend to disregard those courses. No? At least early on in their careers. The priority is to master mathematics, statistics, economics, coding languages, and all sorts of “geeky” or “nerdy” things. The assumption held is that soft skills are learned on-the-job and take time to soak in. So, such courses are considered a complete waste of time. Let me prove you wrong.

On the second day, Dr. Gaby Schilling introduced us to leadership and team building. Experience in leadership roles was varied in the group. Some have previously held leadership positions in formal and informal settings, whereas others referred they did not fit the profile. They were not “natural” leaders. Dr. Schilling demystified this common belief by explaining how leadership can be acquired. We engaged in several role play exercises that simulated common situations we may come across when delegating or providing feedback to team members. More importantly, we focused on how to keep a team motivated.

We finished on the third day with Dr. Wiebke Deimann on interpersonal and networking skills. Beyond the centre or department where we work – as well as this ETN -, conferences are the ultimate network events. The European Health Economics Association conference, which took place in Maastricht last year, was for most of us a very first step into this world: 4 days, dozens of sessions, 100+ researchers. Presenting our work is essential, but conferences are speed dating events for academics. They open a world of opportunities. However, it is hard to manage so many people in such a short period of time. Luckily, Dr. Deimann introduced us to a hand of techniques on professional networking, small talk skills, and intercultural communication. I am looking forward to trying them out!

Time was short and weather was nasty, but ETN gatherings can never be without social events. We went on an escape-room experience – called “Hidden in Hamburg” – on board of the museum ship Cap San Diego, and enjoyed lovely fish afterwards in the Portuguese neighborhood nearby. Unfortunately, this was our last time in Hamburg. Bis bald! See you all in Denmark in a few months!

 

Hamburg, we meet again! Quality courses on measuring quality of care in September 2018 in Hamburg

Hamburg, we meet again! Quality courses on measuring quality of care in September 2018 in Hamburg

17 January 2019, by Laurie Rachet Jacquet

In September 2018, fresh from our summer conferences and holidays, we were back to Hamburg for three courses on quality of care using administrative data. These courses took us to the core of our research: the quality of healthcare systems as a concept and practical object of study. Most of us use administrative data but the term covers large variation. Who wouldn’t wish to have access to Danish data for instance? Though, according to our ETN fellows based in Denmark, “good things come to those who wait”(!)

We started off on September 17th by considering how to measure quality of care using administrative data. The course was kicked off by Prof. Jonas Schreyögg to discuss both the theoretical foundations for the definition(s) and measures of quality, while considering the implications in terms of the sources of data that researchers may use. Prof. Gary Young then talked us through the recent key developments in the measures of quality and hospital performance assessment used in the United States. On the last day of the course, we had an insightful discussion on quality of care and performance in the case of integrated care programmes led by Prof. Eva Oppel who had selected a set of papers in this new research strand for group discussions.

Prof. Eva Oppel also taught the next course on measuring patient satisfaction, reviewing the theoretical concepts and approaches to patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) of quality in different countries.

The last course on quality of care and administrative data brought us to consider methods for risk-adjustment for quality outcomes with administrative data. These few days added a nice touch to our previous conversations by bringing a practical approach on quantitative methods. Prof. Dr. Tom Stargardt started off by discussing methods for risk-adjustments, after which Prof. Dr. Marco Caliendo told us all about matching methods, difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity designs. The course was also organised to provide hands-on exercises on Stata, which surely will save us a lot of time when we’ll apply this to our research!

But it would not be an ETN meeting without socials. We had an excellent dinner at a traditional German restaurant on the first day with the course instructors and Elena Phillips.

There is no doubt that the non-German-speakers of our group are now expected to master the food staples of a traditional German menu like Spätzle, Schnitzel or Franzbrötchen.

Over the dinner, Prof. Gary Young shared stories from his time as an FBI agent in charge of hospital fraud detection, which – the rumour has it – stimulated new career interests among many fellows!

The dinner was also the occasion to celebrate Torsten’s birthday – whose exact age is no one’s business. But let’s all save the date for his turning of a decade next September =)

Auf Wiedersehen Hamburg, it won’t be long till we meet again!

 

 

 

Presentation and communication skills training

Presentation and communication skills training

Following the intense three courses on measuring the quality of care and risk adjustment methods. On 27th of September, All 15 IQCE fellows attended the presentation and communication skills training, which was given by Julie Stearns.

This intensive 1-day workshop focused on developing our presentation skills to transform ourselves from inexperienced speakers to skilled presenters through planning and practice and taught us how to captivate our audience and improve at presenting our ideas with conviction, control and without fear.

The course started with an introduction with the help of a toy ball that was tossed from one participant to another. The participants stood up in a circular arrangement, and as they received the toy ball, they should share their name, role and what she or he wanted to gain during the training.

Following that, we learned methods to tailor our presentations to our audiences, gained the skills to make eye contact, breath appropriately, learned how to project our voice and use pauses effectively, communicate with clarity and conviction. We learned about using relaxation techniques to overcome nervousness and expertly handle difficult questions and situations.
We all received specific feedback from the group and trainer after delivering a short presentation. Three words were written on a note card, which described the impact of our presentation. That way, we could track our presentation skills by seeing for ourselves what comes across to the audiences. That was a great way to get instant feedback and helpful recommendations.
At the end of the training, Julie Stearns asked everyone to mention three elements we have learned during the course of the presentation and answer our further questions.
We all left the workshop with some beneficial and specific immediate “take-home messages” (e.g., to me they were an authentic, powerful and engaging presentation).

This course combines proven-by-practice methods that will grow our presentation competency. We also received expert advice on how to handle especially challenging situations by making actual presentations.

Health Economics in Maastricht: “Its’ A Small World!”

Health Economics in Maastricht: “Its’ A Small World!”

European Health Economics Association Conference 2018, known as EuHEA 2018, was the first major conference after enrolling into our PhD. It was also something for which all 15 of us honed our early research ideas at the beginning of this year in order to submit abstracts along with the other 683 abstracts, from more than 50 countries, submitted in the conference. Luckily, we all were accepted to demonstrate much progressive version of those early ideas by the month of July when the conference took place.

River Meuse of Maastricht

In a charming city of Maastricht in southern Netherlands, the conference kicked-off on 11th July with an artistic beginning at Bonnefantenmuseum along with pre-excitement of England vs. Croatia semifinals. During the evening, some of us took the stairs to explore the modern art inside the museum, ending up in the top dome with mystique meditation sound: just after wine and before semifinals! And then the English men of our group, Torsten and Jamie, along with some of us, immediately continued in search of a sports bar on the river-front.

Day 2, 12th July, started with interesting two key-note speeches; one of which was by Prof. Richard Smith (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK) who introduced the new perspective that how trades/trade behaviors are apparent within healthcare market and bravely made us think that if healthcare sector should follow WTO instead of WHO?! The audience had red and green cards to show their opinions for the ideas proposed by the keynote speakers and we also got to hear counter-perspective of someone working with WHO sitting among the audience who also ensured that WHO has as beautiful headquarter! These interactive and interesting conversations with key-note speakers and our tasks to show opinions in red/green did not give some of us, who were awake the night before working on the final slides, a chance to shut their eyes!!

Also, Prof. Richard Smith shared the feeling of Torsten and Jamie that morning (after England vs. Croatia) while our Italian, German and Belgian counterparts were already silent on the matter. One could speculate that Laurie was the happiest person during these days (her home country being France) but she did not say so; perhaps, our research mobility (as a UK researcher) makes us a bit diplomatic!

Fireworks on André Rieu live concert

 

 

Juggling between the talks/posters of our research interests and talks/posters of our fellow colleagues, the first exciting day came to an end with a relaxing dinner, specially organized for our IQCE group, in the city center of Maastricht, with company of our supervisors and admin director, with live concert of André Rieu happening not so far and with fireworks blustering at the midnight.

 

 

IQCE PhD Fellow Sebastien (Coffee) with wife: on his research of reference points

 

Day 3, 13th July, was as exciting as the previous day, with 3 other interesting keynote speeches and with myriad of sessions ranging from Healthcare & Development and Socio-economic Inequalities to International Health Economics and Cost-effectiveness of interventions. As one of the keynote speakers, Prof. Werner Brouwer (Erasmus University Rotterdam), with very well explained reasoning, asked health economists to focus on welfare during their economic evaluations.

Surprisingly, it was good to see that, based on our previous experiences and current research requirements, how among the same IQCE group, our topic of interests differed; this was particularly new compared to other trainings we attended in the same classroom so far. Nevertheless, we managed to appear in one another’s sessions even if it led us to bunk some other sessions in between. And the day ended with fabulous conference dinner at La Bonbonnière in the city center, followed by a band performance which made all of us (yes, also the professors) to beat our legs to their rhythm.

 

Wait, the day (or the night?) is not over yet; a DJ was waiting for us downstairs as soon as we finished dancing upstairs with the band and some of us survived with the DJ until the end. Those who left earlier also missed that rarest opportunity to see four of our stars-Sebastien (Young-Cake), Torsten, Ryan and Sebastien (Elder-Coffee)-shaking the dance floor, altogether!!! All four of them might deny now but an insider witness is writing this blog and is certainly regretting, at this moment, not having a camera handy then.

 

IQCE PhD Fellow, Iryna Sabat: on her research on hospital financial performance

Day 4, 14th July, was as short as it could be considering it was Saturday and the last day of the conference. Presentations of our fellow colleagues, within parallel sessions, continued. It concluded with closing keynote speeches in one of which EuHEA President – Prof. Andrew Jones, (University of York, UK) gave us an overview of 50 years of empirical health economics in 15 minutes (as his key-note speech was titled).

 

 

Some of us, on the streets of Maastricht!

 

Good-byes were bidden to some old friends and new acquaintances with hope of seeing again in next EuHEA 2020 at Oslo, Norway. While we were happy already knowing that, at IQCE, we all are still together and we keep sharing ideas among ourselves, be it our next training in Hamburg or our evergreen Whatsapp chats!

(Also, by this time, after running on one another several times on the city streets, some of us concluded that “it’s a small world” phrase was originally derived in Maastricht!!)

Welcome to Rotterdam! – Survey design, Research in progress workshop, Economic evaluation

Welcome to Rotterdam! – Survey design, Research in progress workshop, Economic evaluation

This is a short summary of the events which took place between May 14th and May 23rd, when the ETN group was enjoying the hospitality of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, hosted by the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM).

For eight ETN students, the week began with a three-day course in Survey design. We were welcomed by Werner Brouwer,Job van Exel and Arthur Attema, all Professors at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management. The course, mostly held by Job van Exel, introduced data collection methods, cornerstones of quality in surveys and tackled issues like unit-nonresponse. Job’s extensive experience in the area proved to be a cornerstone of the quality of the course. Werner Brouwer and Arthur Attema assisted students in developing their own small survey projects with helpful comments. Some of the students are planning to use the developed surveys in their future research. The students were furthermore assisted by regular (coffee) catering, which noticeably boosted learning efficiency. The course was rounded up by a nice and cheerful dinner at an Italian restaurant near the campus of the Erasmus University.

For the second part of the Rotterdam visit, the research in progress workshop, the rest of the ETN students arrived, as well as (most) of the academic advisors. Within two days, every ETN student presented his or her research in front of their peers and all advisors within a one hour time slot with plenty of time for discussion. While still very early on in the PhD program (~month 7), the extent and quality of research already conducted was somewhat remarkable. Especially considering the long stretching difficulties in getting access to data experienced by quite a few students. Presenting their research in front of such an esteemed panel of experts, though intimidating, proved to be an excellent opportunity to receive valuable feedback and interesting ideas in moving forward with our research. Lively and constructive discussions followed all presentations. Research topics discussed ranged from medication adherence and supply side incentive schemes to the formation of reference points in health care. Although research had been discussed with each other before, it was interesting to see what students are exactly focusing on and what methods they use.

Another highlight in between the two-day workshop was taking the water-taxi to cross the Nieuwe Maas, the river dividing Rotterdam in half, to get to our dinner location “Café Rotterdam”. Unfortunately, besides enjoying a fantastic dinner in a lively atmosphere, the advertised great view on the city was blocked by what must have been one of the biggest cruise ships allowed into the city. However, the dinner gave the students the opportunity to get to know all advisors of the program and establish contact with people they might be seeing during academic secondments or might want to collaborate with in the future, thereby fulfilling one of the purposes of this European Training Network. Seeing that a lot of supervisors knew each other and worked together before, let PhD students wonder, whether in 15-20 years, they will be the advisors shaking hands at the beginning of such a work shop, with the history of having known each other and each other’s work for many years.

After a weekend of visiting some of Rotterdam’s and the Netherland’s most iconic sights (e.g. Kinderdijk, Euromast, Amsterdam, Utrecht) the final part of the Rotterdam visit started: A two-day course in health economic evaluation. Ten ETN students had the pleasure of getting to know the two perspectives of this important field of study. First, Werner Brouwer introduced and elaborated on the theoretical and conceptual aspects of health economic evaluation. On the second day, Maiwenn Al (Associate Professor at the Department of Health Technology Assessment) shifted the focus towards health economic modelling and uncertainty analysis. Their knowledge and experience in the field are outstanding and widely contributed to the learning achievement of the students.

At the end of their time in Rotterdam, students had only positive things to say about the organization of the courses and the hospitality they experienced in Rotterdam. Many thanks to the organizational committee around Job, Werner, Arthur and Sebastian the Elder (also known as “Coffee-Sebastian”)! Unfortunately, the other Sebastian located in Rotterdam (the Younger, also known as “Cake-Sebastian”) was too occupied with conducting stochastic experiments in the Nevada desert to be of much help in organizing.

We like to experiment! – ETN Experimental Methods Course, Milan, Italy

We like to experiment! – ETN Experimental Methods Course, Milan, Italy

The much anticipated “Experimental Methods” course took place last month in Milan, Italy. Our hosts, Bocconi University, did a fantastic job in accommodating us over an admittedly intensive, but rewarding 4-day course covering the most up-to-date experimental methods in health economics. The group was noticeably smaller than the previous epidemiology course in Milan, but there was enough of us to justify a few social events with strictly no alcohol involved (!).

After being welcomed by Professor Aleksandra Torbica, the course kicked off with a detailed overview of the experimental methods applied in health economics and the rationale for doing them. Following our first day of lectures we retreated to our boxes to embark on an ambitious reading list (even for excitable PhD students). We were also given more details about the group presentation which involved developing a proposal for an experiment detailing the study question, methods and (an imaginary) budget.

On the second day of the course, Prof. Marco Bonnetti did the math! We were given a clear overview of the ins and outs of RCTs using a unique step-by-step hand written approach. We also discussed different randomization methods and how to set up an RCT from scratch e.g. defining a protocol, calculating a sample size and monitoring enrolment. Following a full day of teaching the day was not over, we again retreated (less enthusiastically this time) to our boxes to continue with our research proposal. Later on, some of us went for dinner at a great Chinese restaurant arranged Yuxi, which we washed down with some strong Chinese liqueur. Unfortunately, around this time some of us began to show signs of the notorious ETN flu of 2018. Believed to have originated by one of the ETN fellows based in Lisbon, who shall remain nameless, many of us bravely struggled through the rest of the course despite being ill.

With the remaining brain cells not destroyed by Chinese liquor, spicy food and the flu virus, we continued to persevere with another fascinating day of lectures. Lucia Corno talked about the challenges of performing RCTs in developing countries and described her first-hand experience of investigating the effect of a financial lottery program in Lesotho on negative test results for sexually transmitted infections. In the afternoon we were privileged to be able to run line-by-line through her elegant STATA code helping us to get experience with real RCT data. Young Sebastian, could hardly contain his excitement!


On the final day, Ryan bravely stumbled back into the lecture despite being far from his usual giggling self. “I feel like sh*%” were the words that at least seemed to accurately describe the way he looked. Despite Ryan and a significant share of the class feeling rough, we preserved through the final day of lectures. As the day progressed, Ryan led the pack with an excellent presentation on goats, which his mum would have been proud of. The other presentations w ere also impressive considering the short time frame with topics ranging from DCEs & MMR vaccines in Italy to the framing of financial incentives in a blood donation setting.

After the presentations, we later met for a superb Italian meal and closed the course in style with some excellent food, wine and conversations on love, life and horses. Overall we were well looked after at Bocconi and hope the intensive course will motivate some of us to apply the experimental methods learnt to our own research topics.

 

New year, fresh start in hamburg

New year, fresh start in hamburg

This blog post describes our warm welcome in the year 2018 and in Hamburg over three busy weeks of courses (our longest period of work together so far!). Unfortunately, it was also the first time that the group was split into different courses according to our preferences and research objectives.

From the 10th to the 25th of January, we could attend four different courses in an illuminated room at the Hamburg Center for Health Economics, indifferent to the (sometimes greyish) days of snow, rain or sun that the North Sea wind was bringing us.

We started with the course of the statistical software STATA by Dr. Matthias Bäuml followed by the introduction to SAS software by Prof. Dr. Tom Stargardt and Dr. Simon Frey. Modern academic work no longer revolves around books and folders. Computers and screens with different software interfaces are our daily companions. The courses were managed in a valuable combination of work session between the lectures. During those hands-on exercise session, despite the fact that we could barely see each other’s faces, since the tables were filled with devices and big screens, the group work and discussion abounded. The professors brought to the classes authentic and interesting examples and exercises from different fields of research in health and care. Someone who would have entered that room and seen those screens filled with software code, probably wouldn’t have found it very stimulating. For us however, those were very helpful command lines that when automated will save us a lot of time in our research and we definitely prefer them less colourful, because the red lines often meant a puzzling error that would take us some time to figure out!

 

Software programs such as STATA and SAS aid the ETL, visualisation, and production of statistical analyses and inference over massive amounts of data from healthcare related conditions, procedures or outcomes. These are essential to understand the phenomena, behaviour, and decisions in healthcare in Europe that we are currently studying. One main goal of our research is to contribute with better evidence to evaluate and design better health policies. Let me use a metaphor to explain it better, “to live in a modern democracy is to be experimented on by policymakers from cradle to grave. Education is intended to mould an upstanding future citizen; a prison sentence, reshape someone who has gone astray. But without evidence, those setting policy for schools and prisons are little better than a doctor relying on leeches and bloodletting. Citizens, as much as patients, deserve to know that treatments they endure do actually work.” (“In praise of human guinea pigs”, The Economist, December 12th, 2015, p.18). In order to better understand the complexity of the interventions and outcomes, its impacts and variations, in the multifaceted hierarchy of our health care systems, we were introduced by Dr. Nils Gutacker and Dr. Noemi Kreif to the state-of-the-art in terms of performance measurement and multilevel modelling. The daily classes were very lively and intense with lectures spiced up with exercises and even a journal club! Adding to our weekend plans we met for some interesting group work in which we played the role of academic journal reviewers. A set of well selected recent articles were brought under the microscope by each group to simulated a peer reviewing process, in which methodological inaccuracies or improvements were debated in the course of the ensuing presentation and discussion in class.

Another important piece is the longitudinal perspective that can be explored using models for panel data to understand the persistent or spurious nature of the effects we are studying. These useful models were presented by Prof. Dr. Giovanni Mellace in the final classes in Hamburg.

After the academic coursework, time for our hectic social life, with a huge fish plate in the Portuguiesisch Viertel (Portuguese district), a Persian dinner to celebrate Ryan’s special day, a delicious dinner in an Asian restaurant in the downtown and as always some knees-up and drinks to rewards us from the long days.

This time we had the pleasure to be invited to a house party in a charming WG (Wohnegemeinschaft, commune or shared apartment) with awesome music and even table football (Thank you Torsten!)

During the weekends it was a pleasure to walk around Germany’s “gateway to the world” and its numerous attractions or sehenswürdigkeiten (literally places worthy to be seen). The busy ferries on the river Elbe from the Elbphilharmonie to the Landungsbrücken presented us the stunning contrasts in the waterfront between the modern buildings drawing massive vertical lines on the horizon while the imposing old bricks constructions stretch horizontally along the shoreline, impressively robust against the fury of the waves, wind and time.

Even if some long German words take some time to stick to our memories, some German habits seems to have come back into favour with the researchers. In order to thank the professors for the herculean task of teaching us for eight long hours, clapping hands is no longer the standard. At the end of each class, hands are quietly positioned over the tables, then, an exchange of glances, followed by a graceful knocking on the table and a collective laughter!

Coming up are some weeks in front of the courses’ materials to solve the take-home exams and hopefully to gather the new ideas and methods for our research, before we meet again in Milan in March.

(I would like to express my gratitude to the photography gifted members of our group, the authorship of the media content belongs to them)

Milanese Hospitality

Milanese Hospitality

For fifteen Marie-Curie IQCE ETN PhD students, a November week in Milano made for a great mix of learning and fun.

Concerned that we didn’t starve on the Sunday evening before our Epidemiology class began, local ‘host’ IQCE Fellow Yuchi booked a table for an ‘aperitivo’ (cocktail + buffet dinner) at a canal-side restaurant called Sacrestia Farmacia Alcolica in Milano’s Navigili neighbourhood. The building had previously been a pharmacy, which was a nice touch given the health focus of our ETN. We were joined by a few local Bocconi PhD students, and had more fun than should be admitted guessing where everyone originated from. Not being professional linguists, accents are not anyone’s strong suit! Such a warm welcome to a new city!

Monday morning we met the Bocconi IQCE academic team: Prof. Giovanni Fattore; Prof. Aleksandra Torbica; and Prof. Simone Ghislandi and began our introduction to the field of Epidemiology. The first two days of Epidemiology lectures were given by Prof. Ghislandi (Simone to his new best friends), followed by a guest lecture on Meta-Analysis by Dr. Oriana Ciani, and a final lecture on Health Economics Decision Theory from Prof. Torbica. Aside from learning about how John Snow started the field of Epidemiology, the differences between Risk Ratios, Rate Ratios, and Odds Ratios, the hierarchy of epidemiological study designs, the importance and challenges of meta-analysis, and a refresher on decision-making based on probabilistic expectations, the class was divided into four teams which would work together to produce hour-long presentations across a range of epidemiological specializations.

Two afternoons of group collaboration led to a full day of group presentations and insightful discussions. Although we had some small group activities through our previous meetings in Lisbon and Hamburg, this was the first time we did any serious group work, and were really able to get a sense of each other’s working styles. Even the most detail oriented amongst us could overlook the difference between Generic and Genetic Epidemiology! Other group topics included Nutritional and Social Epidemiology. After the final presentation on Infectious Disease Epidemiology, aside from a few colleagues who had departed to catch early flights, most of the group gathered together for a celebratory aperitivo dinner.

Not content to intimately knowing the inside of a Bocconi lecture hall, several IQCE Fellows decided to stay for a couple days in order to explore Milan as tourists. Amongst Milan’s most notable include the Duomo cathedral and nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Pinacoteca di Brera (home of Hayez’s ‘The Kiss’), the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie (home of DaVinci’s ‘The Last Supper’), La Scala opera house, and the Castello Sforzesco.

Thank you Milano! We look forwards to returning in March to learn about Experimental Design – not to mention seeing and tasting more of your delights!

Moin Hamburg….

Moin Hamburg….

The Hamburg Centre for Health Economics (HCHE) welcomed the 15 ETN researchers officially with an induction program followed by a lively dinner  on the 13th of November 2017.This was the second time that the researchers met  each other and the first time for the faculty at HCHE. The program started with a warm welcome speech by Prof. Dr. Tom Stargardt, Chair of Health Care Management, followed by a brief overview session regarding the IQCE (Improving Quality of Care in Europe) program by Prof. Dr. Jonas Schreyogg, Scientific Director at HCHE. In between, HCHE also arranged for an ETN (European Training Network) researchers introduction session, where each ETN introduced themselves and presented their research interests. The induction program finished with a brief talk regarding communication , responsibilities of the ETN researchers and social activities by Elena Philips, IQCE Managing Director.Another highlight of the induction program was the selection of the ESR (Early Stage Researchers) representative. With the maximum number of votes , Ms. Anna-Katharina Böhm was selected as the ESR representative while Ryan Wyeth was selected as the vice-representative.

For the next three days from 14th November to 16th November 2017, we had micro econometric lectures given by Prof. Dr. Stephan Hoderlein, Professor of Economics Boston College,USA. Prof. Stephan, with his amazing sense of humor, transformed the otherwise purely technical class into one that was educative and fun at the same time.He also took time to get involved in the social activities during the three days of the lecture. On 17th November, we had the Lecture for Creative Writing, taken by Dr.Andrea Sanchini. Personally I found it instructive as it helped us to understand and imbibe the techniques of writing as well as the concept of intellectual property rights and research integrity.

  

 

During the weekend i.e. the 18th and 19th of November, we took our time to see around Hamburg. We visited the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, City Hall and some museums. We also tried the popular restaurants around the city. On the 20th of November, we had the Project Management Lecture, which was given by Dr.Anette Hammerschmidt. The class revolved around the theme -Managing your thesis as a project. The class, as some put it, was illuminating concerning the tasks ahead of us.

The lecture was very productive for us as it provided us with various tools to plan and schedule our activities both on a big picture as well as regarding the minute details at the same time. At the end of the class, which was the last day at Hamburg, Elena Philips came to take our feedback regarding all the lectures and our week in Hamburg in general. We finished our week with a fun filled and delicious dinner near the Hamburg Port. We look forward to our next meeting in Milan which is poised to be one that will be fun while giving us the opportunity to learn more about epidemiology.

Off to Lisbon

Off to Lisbon

The first event for the IQCE fellows was a training in Lisbon from October 10-20th, where we could enjoy the last warm days of the Portuguese autumn. Our first two courses in Microeconomics were a good start into the program and a wonderful way to get to know the fellow researchers in the program.

We were first warmly welcomed by Sofia Vala and the team at NOVA School of Business and Economics. Our lecturer Professor Steffen Hoernig gave us an introduction to NOVA, their old, their new campus and the program for the coming weeks. The home of the economics faculty at NOVA is a very impressive building which used to be a Jesuit school. During our tour through the building, we could still spot many of their symbols and were even given access to the old chapel, which is now a hidden part of the University library. The new campus is still under construction and we are looking forward to visiting the new home of the school of economics.

Professor Hoernig refreshed our memory of Microeconomics and we discussed  the finer details consumer, producer, decision and game theory. Despite the warm weather and the short time for so many topics he was able to bring us all up to speed to ensure a firm theoretical background for our future research. In a special session Professor Barros pointed out the health economic applications of the theories covered in class.

Over lunch, we had very interesting discussions with our fellow ETN researchers, about our different topics and backgrounds. We also used the chance to chat with Professor Hoernig and Professor Pedro Pita Barros about (health) economics, the effects of the European debt crisis in Portugal and football over lunch. The latter ended in an ETN table football match with Pita Barros.

After classes and regular group revisions sessions, the fellows explored the Portuguese cuisine and the many sights of Lisbon. We benefitted from our two local fellows, who were very helpful with guidance and with the translation of Portuguese menus (thank you Joana and Luis!). We undertook many activities as a group to get to know each other. We took a ride in one of the historic trams up to a restaurant close to the Castelo de São Jorge on our first day and on the weekend a part of us went to the beach in Cascais while others explored the castles in the countryside.

Towards the end of our trip, we celebrated Angelas birthday in a little restaurant followed by a trip to a fado bar, where were enjoyed traditional live music and the great atmosphere of the Lisbon nightlife. After ten great days, we were sad to leave our fellow researchers, the good weather, and wonderful food, but we were already looking forward to meeting each other again in Hamburg.