8 October 2021
The 3rd Edition of the ESRS Sleep Science School concluded last week Friday (1-Oct) after an entire week of learning about the Functions of Sleep.
It was the first in-person ESRS gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In spite of the initial uncertainty about travel restrictions and safety procedures, the school proceeded as scheduled, and boasted 40 participants from 16 different countries and a faculty of 8, and was organized by ESRS President Dr. Pierre-Hervé Luppi (FR), Vice President (Basic) Dr. Tom DeBoer (NL), and Past President Prof. Dr. Philippe Peigneux (BE).
There were four full days of faculty lectures, individual research presentations (from all 40 participants) and group grant preparation projects on several pertinent sleep-related topics.
The faculty included the aforementioned organizers as well as Vladyslav Vyazovskiy (UK), Monika Schönauer (DE), Iben Lundgaard (SE), Maria Robles (DE) and Gabrielle Girardeau (FR). The latter four were a stunning representation of the impressive work being conducted by women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) research.
The faculty presentations are available on demand for ESRS Members.
40 individual presentations were given by the participants and it covered a wide spectrum of sleep related topics from basic to clinical and neurology to paediatrics. It was reassuring to see the cutting-edge projects each participant was working on, from Master to postdoctoral level – the future of sleep medicine and sleep research is in very solid hands.
Towards the end of the school, three of the best presentations were selected by their peers:
- Pierre Champetier (FR) – Spindles and memory consolidation during NREM sleep in older adults
- Jackie Gottshall (US) – EEG sleep architecture: Functional biomarkers and circuit mechanisms in traumatic brain injuries
- Pavlos Topalidis (AT) – The effect of sleep on predicting coding
Grant Preparation Workshops
After a highly informative session with Iben Lundgaard on grant preparation, the participants were split into several groups on the topics of Ageing & Development, Sleep Disorders, Dreaming, Plasticity & Memory and Physiology Circadian. The aim was to develop a multidisciplinary research project on the topic and prepare an actual grant application (as best as possible within one week) for review.
The group with the best grant application was on Plasticity & Memory – “Sleep mediated memory improvement. Synaptic downscaling, glymphatic clearance or both?” and included: Giulia Amicucci (IT), Nina Dukanovic (CH), Nathalie Hauglund (DK), Fabian Kliem (DE), Federico Salfi (IT) and Lorenzo Viselli (IT).
This all sounds like an intense week of learning, and it was, from 9:00 to 20:00 every day. But in between it all, participants were able to enjoy a bit of downtime as well. As sleep enthusiasts, we know the value of soaking in a bit of sun and physical activity to ensure a good night’s sleep. Villa Clythia was an excellent choice as it had a swimming pool, boule pitch, tennis court and jogging trails.
An additional trip to the beach and an hour-long hike on the cliffs of Fréjus was a great informal networking opportunity between participants and faculty. Discussions about neuroscience and restless leg syndrome, infant sleep and more could be heard against the background of waves lapping at the shores of the Baie de Saint Raphaël.
Based on the feedback from numerous participants, the 2021 Sleep Science School was a great experience for them as early career researchers, especially coming out of the global pandemic. They grasped it as an opportunity to establish new connections and discuss their research projects with their peers and experienced faculty, who asked pressing questions and suggested additional considerations.
The ESRS and organizers are proud of having hosted yet another successful Sleep Science School.