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ORPHEUS Annual Conference

2010 ORPHEUS General Assembly

Saturday, April 10, 2010. 12:30 at AGH, Vienna Medical  University



Chair: Prof. Michael Mulvany, Prof. Jadwiga Mirecka, Zdravko Lackovic

1.    Agenda proposal

2.    Annual report of the ORPHEUS activities between two general Assemblies, by ORPHEUS General Secretary, Prof. Seppo Meri

3.    Annual financial report, by ORPHEUS  Acting Treasurer, Prof. Guenther Gell

4.    Proposed agenda for future ORPHEUS development and plan of activities for the next three-year term,  by ORPHEUS President, Prof. Zdravko Lacković

5.    Proposal for 6th ORPHEUS 2010 Conference to be held in Izmir, Turkey, presented by Prof.  Gul Guner- Akdogan, Dokuz Elylul University, Graduate School do Health Sciences,

6.    Elections / Proposal for new Executive Committee members

7.    Any other business


Ad. 2.

Report of ORPHEUS activities between two annual conferences 2009-2010


Presented by Seppo Meri, ORPHEUS General Secretary

  General secretary Seppo Meri

The annual meeting of ORPHEUS was held on April 25, 2009 in Aarhus, Denmark. That annual meeting made several changes in ORPHEUS statutes, elected Professor Hannes Stockinger and Professor Miroslav Cervinka as new ORPHEUS Executive Committee members. In 2009, ORPHEUS become an associate member of Council for Doctoral Education EUA. From the Aarhus meeting until today ORPHEUS has basically been involved in three activities:


  1. organisation of the 5th ORPHEUS 2010 conference with the theme: “The Advancement of European Biomedical and Health Science PhD Education by Cooperative Networking”.

  2. participation in a number of regional and smaller meetings and active participation in meetings organised by EUA-CDE

  3. developing and improving ORPHEUS web pages;


The Fourth ORPHEUS 2009 Conference was the largest ORPHEUS conference up to now with 165 participants representing 72 health schools / universities from 33 European Countries. The conference resulted in a document “Towards Standards for PhD Education in Biomedicine and Health Sciences”, which has, so far, been supported by AMSE annual Conference in Zagreb 2009, by ASPHER and by Executive Committee of  AMEE. That conference hosted the presentations of representatives of the European Commission and the EUA Council for Doctoral Education for the first time. It should also be emphasized that the representatives of two of the so-called big countries, UK and Russia, also participated in the conference for the first time.

Most regional meetings have been presented on the ORPHEUS web pages, under the heading “Latest news and events”.  In chronological order here are the major events with participation of ORPHEUS EC members:



June 4-6, 2009, AMSE conference was held in Zagreb with the main theme “The medical school and postgraduate education: Responsibility for clinical, specialist and research education”. Professors Mulvany and Lackovic presented the results of ORPHEUS 2009 conference and the position paper which was supported by AMSE conference participants and was formulated in the conclusions (“AMSE Zagreb Declaration”) AMSE endorses the work of ORPHEUS in development of standards for research training in medical schools and faculties, and supports the position paper from the Aarhus meeting of ORPHEUS about standards for PhD education.

June 2009 – Krakow. Meeting of the heads of the PhD progerammes in medical universities in Krakow. Information about ORPHEUS was presented by Jadwiga Mirecka. Polish translation of the Aarhus document was disseminated.Decision of regular annual meetings was undertaken and Working Group coordinating these meetings was established with Jadwiga Mirecka as a member.

September 19-18, 2009, International scientific conference of Baltic countries entitled “Setting Standards for PhD Education in Medicine” was held in Riga. The conference was organized by Riga Stradins University with about 50 participants responsible for PhD programs in medicine from the Baltic universities. The chairmen of the conference were Professor Aigars Petersons and Professor Janis Gardovskis, Rector of the University. Invited speakers were: ORPHEUS President, David Gordon, Vice President and Seppo Meri, General Secretary.

September 21, 2009; European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) Academic Council Meeting, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki: Network Creation for Doctoral Education – Learning from National and International Networks. ORPHEUS position paper was presented in a 20 min talk by Michael Mulvany. EIASM is an organization founded in the 1970s and is a network of eight networks. A total of 6000 academics are to some extent affiliated. This was the annual academic meeting of EIASM, where there was considerable interest in the ORPHEUS project. The possibility of EIASM producing a position paper was discussed. Some thought management science was too diverse, others (including both the outgoing and incoming president) thought that the ORPHEUS experience showed the way.

September 25,  2009. Copenhagen, Quality in PhD education. Conference arranged by the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The conference was concerned with the standard of PhD education in health sciences in Denmark. The ORPHEUS position paper was presented by Michael Mulvany. The extent to which the Danish PhD lives up to the ORPHEUS recommendations was discussed. A number of points in which the Danish PhD regulations did not do so were identified. The ORPHEUS position paper was thus able to point to potential shortcomings and provide a political basis for eliminating these.

Septemeber 27-29, 2009. ORPHEUS Executive Comittee held a meeting in Krakow. The meeting was organized by EC member Professor Jadwiga Mirecka and it was hosted by Rector and Vice rectors of the Medical College Jagiellonian University (Polish: Uniwersytet Jagielloński) The most important topics were:  (1) Report from 4th ORPHEUS Conference in Aarhus (reported by Professor Michael J Mulvany) and (2) Preparation for 5th ORPHEUS conference in Vienna (reported by Professor Hannes Stockinger)

October 29, 2009 Vienna, Austria, EUA-CDE/Universities Austria Co-operation Workshop: How to Assure Quality in New-Style Doctoral Studies?

Nov 27-29, 2008. The 6th International Conference of Postgraduate Medical Students was held in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. The conference was organized by Charles University Prague, Medical Faculty of Hradec Králové and University Hospital Hradec Kralowe for the fifth time. Hradec Králové conferences present the international competition of PhD candidates for the best scientific work associated with their PhD thesis. Nominations of 3 best presentations was a task for a ten-member international jury.

December 11, 2009 Zagreb: Second EUA-CDE Workshop: “Structuring doctoral programs – a means for continuous improvement” with participation of two EC members, Zdravko Lackovic and Michael Mulvany. Among the conclusions to come from the EUA-CDE meeting was the underlying need for all institutions – regardless of their size –  to achieve critical mass with their doctoral programs. This was considered crucial in order to help build doctoral communities based on the institutional research priorities, to improve overall research quality and productivity, to increase accountability, and to improve funding opportunities. Participants stressed, however, that critical mass could be attained using different strategies and it was a question of ‘content rather than numbers’ (e.g. by building networks and clusters or using inter- and intra-disciplinary co-operation). It was also emphasized during the meeting that dedicated and sustainable funding would be crucial for the future of European doctoral education.

January 14, 2010 at the University of Wuerzburg, Department of Psychiatry, a Second DAAD PhD workshop was held on the theme „European PhD-Programme in Biomedicine – How to Improve International Cooperation”. This DAAD workshop follows from the years of collaboration between scientists from Wuerzburg, Zagreb, Sarajevo and other Southeast European cities, lead by Prof. Riederer from Wuerzburg. The president, Professor Zdravko Lackovic and Professor Osman Sinanovic represented ORPEHUS. The collaboration enabled a number of young researchers in the phase of writing their doctorate theses to stay in Wuerzburg for a certain period, and the project also supported some participants at the first two ORPHEUS conferences in Zagreb.

January 26, 2010 Aarhus University, EUA-CDE Salzburg II Working Group “Quality and Accountability”. The working group consisted of about 20 participants covering a range of subjects and from all over Europe. The ORPHEUS 2009 position paper was presented by Michel Mulvany and received generally favourable comments.        The overall conclusion of the working group was: “It is necessary to develop specific systems for quality assurance in doctoral education based on the diverse institutional missions and, crucially, linked to the institutional research strategy. For this reason, there is a strong link between assessment of research of the institution and the assessment of the research environments that form the basis of doctoral education. Assessment of the academic quality of doctoral education should be carried out in the context of the standards of the international research community, and be sensitive to disciplinary differences.

March 5, 2010 Rome. A meeting of EUA-CDE Salzburg II Working Group on Internationalization and joint doctoral programs was held in Rome, Sapienza University. ORPHEUS president participated.


In April 2010 Executive Committee decided national or regional meetings can use the name of ORPHEUS and have the support of ORPHEUS under the following conditions:
National or regional ORPHEUS meeting can be organized only by one or more institutional members of ORPHEUS

  1. The meeting should be approved by ORPHEUS EC (at EC meetings or by electronic mails)

  2. At least one member of ORPHEUS EC should be involved in organization

  3. At least one member of ORPHEUS EC should be present at the meeting

Since the last annual meeting, our web pages have been translated into additional languages and are now available in English, French, German, Spanish and Croatian, but most information and most accurate updates are available only in English. Under the heading “European PhD programmes” our web site offers a list and links to more than 200 PhD programs in Europe. Daily number of internet “hits” or a number of “unique visitors” to the ORPHEUS web site is over 100.

At the 2009 conference we had 32 institutional members from 20 countries. Now in 2010, at the time of writing this report, ORPHEUS has 53 institutional members from 26 European  countries, and EPHAR as the first associate member.



Annual financial report

<!–[endif]–>Professor Guenther Gell acting treasurerAnnual financial report was presented  by ORPHEUS  Acting Treasurer, Prof. Guenther Gell






Ad. 4.

Proposed agenda for future ORPHEUS development and plan of activities for the next three-year term


Zdravko Lackovic, ORPHEUS president

Zdravko Lackovic, ORPHEUS president


As we all know, our first conference was held in Zagreb in 2004, a year before the famous EUA conference in Salzburg. It is quite understandable but we can, nevertheless, feel justly proud we had reached similar conclusions. For the first time, we had defined a PhD program, the quality level of theses it produces and the organization of thesis evaluation without conflict of interest thus providing our PhD candidates, future researchers, with the framework for the best possible education and scientific achievement. It has always been important to us to have PhD students voicing their views at our conferences. At the second conference, also held in Zagreb, we set down the guidelines for organization of PhD programs. This period was followed by a year of defining our statute, rules and regulations governing the Executive Committee and looking for a way to formally register our organization in Europe, where registration can be done only within particular national jurisdiction and legislation. In 2007, we organized the conference in Helsinki where we discussed and promoted the importance of PhD training in clinical research. This was especially important since some countries do not offer PhDs in areas of clinical medical research. The Helsinki 2007 conference was also notable for appearance of our first ORPHEUS members. After another year of preparation and consolidation, we organized the conference in Aarhus in 2009, summing up the results of past conferences into standards in PhD education in biomedicine and health research. This document has won approval and support from notable international organizations such as AMSE, ASPHER and AMEE and will serve as a basis for the last document in the WFME trilogy on European and global standards for quality improvement in medical education. We are now looking forward to this conference in Vienna which should not only move our interests in a new direction but also enable achieving a higher quality of PhD education in Europe. From nine in 2004, ORPHEUS now has fifty-three institutional members. From 25 participating universities from 16 European countries in Zagreb 2004, we are now at a conference with participation of 104 institutions from 36 European countries. There has never been an organized gathering of so many universities and faculties of biomedicine and health sciences in Europe. From almost a private initiative, ORPHEUS is becoming a recognized European association.



The planning of ORPHEUS activities in the upcoming period is the most important element of the future of our organization, particularly the future when most of us founding members will no longer participate in the EC. A few scenarios present themselves, the most likely being the continuation and broadening of ORPHEUS activities. Our success will depend on our initiative as well as the overall direction of development in European PhD programs. The fact that we now have over fifty institutional members and that this conference has brought together almost 200 participants, is, naturally, a result of our hard work. However, it is also a consequence of a highly challenging part of the European Bologna process left to the universities to overcome. Apart from the general provisions of these ministerial Bologna conferences and taking into account considerable differences in tradition of European countries, the number of questions raised and contradictions observed is considerable. European University Association even founded a separate Council for Doctoral Education to help members deal more efficiently and successfully with rising questions and challenges. ORPHEUS has become an active associate member of EUA-CDE promoting specificities in the area of biomedicine and health sciences. One can assume that these challenges surrounding PhD education in Europe will continue for quite a while. After these issues have been dealt with, the significance of ORPHEUS will most probably diminish and it will primarily become a place for exchange of experience or the mission will simply be accomplished.


Another additional approach I would advocate is more proactive and includes, together with everything already proposed, formation and development of ORPHEUS networks – based on the existing ORPHEUS documents emphasizing the need for internationalization and mobility. Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to examine and determine possibilities of such cooperation in detail at this Vienna conference. However,  we can well imagine that the future development of such networks would surely include international quality control, for example visitations or awarding ORPHEUS recognition or ORPHEUS label (even accreditations in the future can not be ruled out ). Obviously, there are formal government institutions responsible for accreditations already, but nothing is preventing us from creating our own, for the beginning more simple system as garantee of quality and prerequisite for networking . If this system were to be easy understandable, not to expensive and of high quality, most universities would be proud of the of the  “ORPHEUS label” alongside their name (acknowledging that the programme is in line with ORPHEUS standards). At first, it would be impossible to create large networks owing to the disparity in development and quality of particular PhD programs and the first networks would have to be established between universities of comparative level of development and quality. We can set the final goal very ambitiously and aim to create the European network of networks. In this respect ORPHEUS will become more and more a platform for networking. List of more than 200 European PhD programs on ORPHEUS web site is a first modest step toward this goal. Additionally, a particularly important factor in our final goal would have to be trying to discover, define and implement attempts/experiments/poorly utilized models of network self-sustainability, the ability to persist and thrive even after the abundant international funding ceases. The question to ask oneself is how many of today’s PhD networks can continue after outside funding stops.


I believe that the activities of ORPHEUS will continue in our good traditions of organizing conferences, further developing highly informative web pages, performing various promotional activities such as printing and distributing conference documents to as many European medical universities as possible. Having in mind certain discussions among EC members, I feel the need to emphasize that ORPHEUS is required to organize regular annual assemblies by law of the country where the organization was registered in. In addition, we are starting with organization of national/regional ORPHEUS meetings from this year. We are also endeavoring to publish a special monograph containing all national reports presented at this and past conferences. Unfortunately, we are still missing reports from some major European countries such as UK and France.


After the Aarhus position paper on standards of PhD education we hope that in Vienna we can create another strategic document on cooperation and networking. This conference is going to give us a broad review of cooperation between PhD programs and industry, other scientific institutions and European scientific societies, in particular. Many more specific issues are left for conferences to come. Naturally, our future development will depend on the circumstances in Europe, our level of engagement and on our rate of successfully relating interests of less developed small scientific communities on one hand and encouraging the development and international competitiveness of European centers of excellence in biomedicine and health sciences on the other.


Regarding future activities, one of the first tasks we are facing is preparing the conference in Izmir to the best of our abilities.  We will discuss a possible need for ORPHEUS networks and ORPHEUS formal recognition of PhD programs available across Europe.


Cooperation with institutions with similar mission is of vital importance. First ORPHEUS conferences were attended and supported not only by universities but also by representatives of ASPHER, AMEE, EMA and, most importantly, by AMSE. We are now striving to be as active as possible within the EUA-CDE. In future, we would like to strengthen this cooperation and spread it to include other associations such as ADEE or WFME, in particular. So far we have only one scientific society as an associate member, EPHAR – the Federation of European Pharmacological Societies.  It is my opinion that striving for better cooperation with other scientific societies is very significant for us since they are our most logical partner whom we share most goals with but pose no competition to. In addition to all this, we are also organizing a workshop on PhD programs at the World Congress of Pharmacology – WorldPharma2010 with participation of colleagues from UK, USA and Turkey. I hope that there will be many such initiatives in the future.


In conclusion, with continuing our present activities, publishing specific monographs, organizing local  or regional meetings, cooperating with European scientific associations, academic institutions and industry and becoming involved in new activities of promoting and creating regional and wider networks of PhD programs, I firmly believe that our organization has a sound future, indeed.

Ad. 5.

Proposal for 6th ORPHEUS 2010 Conference to be held in Izmir, Turkey


Gul Guner presents IzmirGul Guner presents Izmirpresented by Prof.  Gul Guner- Akdogan, Dokuz Elylul University, Graduate School do Health Sciences,

  > Powerpoint presentation






Elections / Proposal for new Executive Committee members


The results of elections for ORPHEUS Executuve Committee are:

Professor Dr. Zdravko Lackovic (Zagreb) – President (2007-)

Professor Dr. Michael Mulvany (Aarhus) (2007-);Vice President (2010-)

Professor Dr. Seppo Meri (Helsinki) – General Secretary (2007-);

Professor Dr. Guenther Gell (Graz);(2007), Treasurer (2007)

Professor Dr. David Gordon (Copenhagen) – (Vice-President 2007-2010)

Professor Dr. Miroslav Cervinka (Hradec Kralowe) (2009-);

Professor Dr. Gul Guner-Akdogan (Izmir) (2010-)

Professor Dr. Konstantin Gurevich (Moscow) (2010-)

Professor Dr. Petr Hach (Prague); (2007-):

Professor Dr. Jadwiga Mirecka (Krakow) (2007-):

Professor Dr. Osman Sinanovic (Tuzla); (2007-2011):

Professor Dr. Chris Van Schavendijk (Brussels) (2010 -)



Three new Executive Committee members are:


  • Professor Dr. Gul Guner-Akdogan (Izmir) (2010-)
  • Professor Dr. Konstantin Gurevich (Moscow) (2010-)
  • Professor Dr. Chris Van Schavendijk (Brussels)

CVs of new EC members are on Executive Committee page