Meet FEMS Delegate: Katrine Uhrbrand

11-07-18 Carianne Buurmeijer

We work closely with our Member Societies to jointly maximize the impact of microbiology across Europe. This month we are joined by Dr Katrine Uhrbrand, who is the Delegate from FEMS Member Society, the Danish Microbiological Society (DMS).

Katrine is an experienced researcher exploring airborne bacteria and viruses in the work environment, and is currently the principal investigator on a research project studying MRSA exposure to health care workers in nursing homes. She is also an alternate board member of the Danish Microbiological Society.

Could you tell us more about the Danish Microbiological Society? 

“The Danish Microbiological Society (DMS) was established in 1958 and is a scientific forum for all microbiologists in Denmark. The goal of DMS is to promote and disseminate microbiological research and to promote the interests of Danish microbiologists. DMS’ primary function is to serve as a contact point for national microbiological activities such as scientific meetings in microbiology and related fields.

DMS is represented in both the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS). Being a part of the FEMS community is essential for DMS as it allows us to represent Denmark internationally, and to maintain genuine national influence in microbiological matters that are determined internationally.”

What have been the most important achievements or milestones for DMS?

“DMS’ greatest achievement is the continued success of our annual DMS congress. The congress has in the past decade evolved into a large one-day congress with more than 300 participants from all of the different microbiological disciplines and workplaces across Denmark. Each year the congress focuses on six highly relevant topics covering different areas of microbiology with both national and international speakers who have produced exceptional results in their fields of expertise.

The congress is generally highly prioritized among the Society’s members and is viewed as an excellent forum for networking with other researchers on the Danish scene, exchanging ideas, and getting updated on the latest results in the various branches of microbiology.”

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing microbiologists today? 

“The rapid emerge of antibiotic resistance, endangering the human population by rendering many antibiotics ineffective in treating even the simplest infections, is in my opinion among the biggest scientific challenges that we face today as microbiologists. To tackle this we need to work together as an international community to  coordinate efforts to implement new policies and renew research efforts to manage the crisis.

I see DMS and FEMS playing a key role in facilitating such efforts by bringing attention to the issue and by bringing national and international experts together.  On another note, I also find the competitive market, where securing funding for future research can be demanding, to be a special challenge today as it could potentially hinder or delay continuous progress in a research field. Furthermore, the insecure nature of research funding also means that permanent research positions are few and far apart. This affects many, especially early-career scientists such as myself, who may be faced with the prospect of an endless string of temporary positions if they want a career in research.

Therefore, it is in my opinion of great importance that DMS and FEMS work together to encourage young microbiologists to stay in research by offering financial support (e.g. travel grants and conference grants) to early career scientists, which can aid them in building up their scientific network. In addition, sharing job opportunities within the DMS and FEMS communities may help scientists in finding new exciting positions and increase mobility of highly qualified scientists, and thus strengthen knowledge transfer within the community.”

What key events, activities and news are on the DMS radar this year that we should be aware about?

“In addition to the our annual DMS congress, DMS and its members have several exciting activities on the agenda this year such as the 1st International Conference on Microbial Food & Feed Ingredients (MiFFI).

In addition, several DMS board members are engaged in the 8th Conference on Biofilms (Biofilms 8) and DMS actively promotes the event. Both MiFFI and Biofilms 8 are supported by FEMS and we are pleased to be able to offer FEMS Early Career Scientist Grants.  Finally, DMS is hosting a special event for its members in April to celebrate the society’s 60 year anniversary.”

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