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Welcome by the University

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Dear PhD Students,

COVID-19 challenges all of us. We had to learn quickly new skills and the learning curve had to be steep but we managed. A Digital YSA Symposium means a novum and the organizers will learn what to keep for the next year’s symposium and what we really wish to have back, the networking event for the PhD Students, the personal exchange, and socializing. We conducted two surveys last summer and in February 2021 to learn more about ourselves how we deal with distance learning and digital teaching. The survey results show the PhD students are still very motivated, distance learning worked well and the COVID-19 measures were well accepted. But the students really miss the contact to the other PhD students. COVID-19 will have challenged students in many different ways, a maximum of support is necessary to meet the needs of the students, providing a mentoring program, as the YSA program, mean one important instrument to do so. The university wants to have successful mentoring program for all of the students.

COVID-19 does not change the three abilities you should have developed when finishing the doctoral program at the Medical University Vienna.

These abilities are most meaningful for future research and the societal impact. “The ability to critically analyze, to evaluate and synthesize new and complex ideas. The ability to communicate with the professional environment, the scientific community and the society in general about basic questions of science and scientific politics, as well as the ability to promote social, technological and cultural progress within an academic and professional context.”

The YSA and the annual YSA Symposium support you to gain more and more of abilities and skills as early stage researchers and early stage teachers. It provides an excellent platform to meet and network, and to share research results and (complex) ideas, this time in virtual way.  

Many thanks for your great efforts in organizing this year’s YSA Symposium at the Medical University of Vienna.

Anita Rieder

Vice Rector for Education at the Medical University of Vienna


Dear Colleagues,

it is a true pleasure to be able to welcome you to this year’s PhD Symposium of the Young Scientist Association (YSA) at the Medical University of Vienna (MedUniWien). This is the 16th in the series of such symposia which have become an old tradition at what might be regarded a comparably young university.

From its very first day of independence in 2004, MedUniWien has been offering doctoral education in full compliance with the Salzburg II recommendations established in the Bologna Process in order to ensure highest standards of doctoral education in Europe. One year later, our first PhD Symposium took place and established a series of annual events until 2020. Last year, abstract submission deadline was on March 15, the last day before Austria slid into the first SARS-CoV2-related restriction of public life. As a more distant consequence, the 2020 PhD symposium had to be cancelled, and our illusory hope then was to continue with regular annual YSA PhD symposia in 2021. 

Meanwhile, universities have adapted to the pandemic situation and top out at educating students in distant mode. Luckily, doctoral students at MedUniWien are employed as early stage researchers and thereby enabled to continue working on their thesis projects. Nevertheless, the situation did not permit to conceive the 2021 YSA PhD symposium as event with attendance in person. Still, YSA members joined forces to set up this memorable virtual symposium, and I would like to thank them for all their efforts: you have done a great job, indeed!

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to personally thank Leila Akkari, Barbara Casadei, Josep Dalmau, David Sampson, and Jessica Strid, the renowned keynote lecturers, for their contribution to this virtual event; we highly appreciate that you are willing to share your distinguished expertise with our doctoral candidates. Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the Rector’s team for their continuous support of the doctoral school at MedUniWien and to all the other sponsors; without their help it would not be possible to organize this PhD Symposium. Finally, I wish all of you enchantment, enlightenment, and pleasure when participating in one or more of the virtual sessions! We are delighted that you join YSA to make this meeting a true success.

Stefan Boehm

Director of the Doctoral School at the Medical University of Vienna