I the fall of 2016 a number of scholarships were made available for student members to attend the summer schools and annual general meetings of the Network. 8 scholarships were granted and below you’ll find experience reports written by the grantees of the travel grants.
We were the happy receivers of one travel grant each from Circumpolar Health Research Network (CHRN). This made it possible for us to participate in the Nunamed conference in Nuuk 2016.
It was an exciting opportunity for us to be able to present the results of our research about the Greenlandic Inuit. Charlotte presented her undergraduate thesis about the effect of contextual factors on the mental health of Greenlandic adolescents. Maria presented results of the Population Survey 2014 relevant to cardiovascular disease and her phd study validating cardiovascular diagnoses in the Greenlandic National Patient Register.
The conference included topics from mental health among Inuit to being a tourist doctor at the South Pole that were both informative and entertaining. We have learned new things and have made a lot of promising acquaintances.
Besides attending the conference we have been visiting Nuuk. We were very impressed with the city and the nature surrounding it and luckily we had the opportunity to explore the area. We went sailing in the fjord, we went for a run on stony ground near the water, we climbed Little Malene and we saw northern lights an evening walking home from a great meal at Sarfalik.
We are very happy that the travel grant made all these experiences possible and we will remember this trip for a long time!
Thank you very much!
Charlotte and Maria
Dear Circumpolar Health Research Network,
First of all, many Thanks for supporting my travel to the 2016 NunaMed meeting in Nuuk that took place in the beginning of October.
It was a great opportunity for me to attend the NunaMed conference and I would like to share a few of my experiences with you and the CHRN community.
The NunaMed conferences take place every third year in Nuuk, Greenland with around 200-250 participants mainly from Greenland and Denmark, I also encountered a few Alaskans, Brits and other nationalities during the three days. The meetings are focused on Greenlandic health research. I was awarded an oral presentation in the genetics II session and presented my article titled “Identification of Novel Genetic Determinants of Erythrocyte Membrane Fatty Acid Composition among Greenlanders”, where we were able to successfully detect several loci associated with fatty acids levels in a Greenlandic cohort, some of them novel. Fatty acids levels are particularly interesting to study in Greenlanders, with their unique cost extremely high in fish and marine mammals. My talk went well and the audience had some good questions, so overall it was a good experience sharing my scientific work and getting knowledge and input from the work of others.
The NunaMed meetings are rather small but a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other researchers and health professionals working within the medical field in Greenland. Personally, I was travelling with three other PhD students (all working in different groups in Copenhagen) and we had rented an AirBnB together. The four of us did not only share some good scientific discussions and rehearsed each other before our conference talks but we also shared some real “Greenlandic experiences” such as witnessing the astonishing Northern Lights dancing over the night sky, the first snowfall of the year and of course the obligatory shopping for muskox salami in the supermarket.
A medical student in Greenland Written by Elizabeth Sejr Viskum, Medical Student at The University of Southern Denmark
In my fifth year of medical school, I got the opportunity to spend six weeks as a medical intern at the Queen Ingrid Health Care Center in Nuuk, Greenland. During my stay, I got introduced to arctic medicine research. I was fascinated by the different culture in Greenland as well as the difficulty of providing sufficient health care to a small and widely spread geographically isolated population.
In March 2016, I returned to Nuuk to write my Master’s Thesis on the subject “Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes and quality of care among Greenlanders and Non-Greenlanders in Greenland” in collaboration with Dr. Michael L. Pedersen and the Queen Ingrid Health Care Center. The aim of the study was to estimate the actual prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in Greenland as at 2014, and to evaluate the quality of diabetes care in Greenland, six years after a national diabetes program was initiated.
I was invited to present the results of the study orally at the medical conference Nuna Med in Nuuk, and I was so fortunate to receive a travel scholarship from the Circumpolar Health Research Network. Plane tickets from Denmark to Greenland can be very expensive!
The conference was very well organized and took place over three days. All Nuna Med participants were invited to a welcome reception at the beautiful Art Museum of Nuuk the evening before the conference. Each conference day began with plenum speeches at the Greenland Cultural Centre Katuaq, which were followed by different theme sessions at the Hotel Hans Egede. I gave my oral presentation at the “Diabetes” theme session and it went really well. In general, all of the plenum speeches and theme sessions were on really interesting and fascinating subjects. The conference was closed with a fantastic dinner at the Hotel Hans Egede. We were served a wonderful three-course meal inspired by the Greenlandic cuisine, and we were presented with entertainment performed by artists from the Art School of Greenland.
I had a great experience at the Nuna Med conference – I met researchers from all over the Arctic, gained new interesting knowledge and, of course, got to see lots of beautiful nature and different landscapes. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a participant of Nuna Med 2016, and it definitely won’t be the last time I visit Greenland.
My first congress abroad –The UArctic Congress 2016 at St.Petersburg
Cultural Geographer, M.Sc., University of Oulu
The first ever UArctic Congress was also my first congress experience. I got accepted as an oral presentator to the science section session 4.4. Building Long-term Human Capacity. It was gratifying to get to speak about my Master’s Thesis subject and one of my passions, The Role of Connection to Natural Environment in Human Wellbeing.
Presenting in a congress and interacting with the researchers from different countries and disciplines helped me realize that I’m on the right path. Comments I received after my presentation were helpful when pondering the scope of my PhD Thesis which I started working on this autumn. Working as a researcher is something I have dreamed of since graduation and now I have been taking conscious steps to accomplish that dream. St. Petersburg was an important milestone on this journey.
I got to meet people with same interests and also got a new friend! So not bad! All the contacts in Finland and abroad are helpful now that I’m starting my PhD and applying for grants. For example it was inspiring to speak to a fellow cultural geographer from Finland that I didn’t know before hand. She is doing reseacrh relater to my topic so it’s very good to have met her.
The congress was quite intense with a tight schedule but I guess they always are. There were lots of activities after science sections, I participated in almost all of them. Visiting in the St. Isaacs Cathedral was a nice way to get in touch with part of the St.Petersburgs history. However after long days in the lectures and science sections I was quite tired in the evenings. Next time I will know that I will have to rest more when being in a conference. It can get a bit heavy with nearly 500 participants around.
This was also my first time visiting Russia, which made it even more exciting! Luckily the Russian speaking congress attendees were there to help me in difficult situations. There were some misunderstandings about the registration fee at the hotel which took a few days to get solved.
The best part was definitely meeting new people with related research topics and getting to know this side of a researchers profession. I have met people who say that the conference journeys are the most inspiring part of being a researcher and I’m with them in the sense that it is important to share your insights with a knowledgeable group of supporting people.
NunaMed Reflections – Katie Cueva
As a public health student, researcher, and practitioner working primarily with indigenous communities in Alaska on cancer prevention and control, I was grateful to receive a grant from the Circumpolar Health Research Network to participate in a PhD Summer School and the Nunamed 2016 conference in Nuuk, Greenland. Connecting with other public health practitioners and researchers in the circumpolar north was an incredible learning experience. Along with exploring Community-Based Participatory Action Research and the ethics of research in small populations during the PhD school, I had the privilege of engaging with other public health students and researchers from Greenland, Denmark, and the United States. At the conference, I made connections with individuals involved in work similar to mine, and heard about ideas and pursuits in the circumpolar north that were new to me. My experiences nurturing friendships, cultivating professional connections, and exchanging ideas on improving the health of people of the circumpolar north, were made possible thanks to the Circumpolar Health Research Network.
NUNA MED 2016 – Maria Wielsøe
I would like to thank the Circumpolar Health Research Network for supporting my participation in the Greenlandic Medicine conference NUNA MED. The conference was held in Nuuk, Greenland October 1.-3 2016 and organized by Danish Greenlandic Society for Circumpolar Health, Peqqissaasut Kattuffiat, Greenlandic Medical Association and Greenland Institute of Health Research. Overall, the conference gave me a great insight to the research in Arctic health. The plenum presentations focused on a wide range of topics related to Arctic Health including Arctic Health and Well-Being, Greenlandic biotechnological treasures, tuberculosis and genetics.
More than 30 parallel theme sessions were held over the 3 days and I found several of them very interesting and relevant for my future work. I had the pleasure of hearing many good presentations in the parallel session both within and beyond my own research field. I presented my work in the well visited session on environmental health. The work I presented was on lifestyle factors, environmental pollutants and breast cancer risk in Greenland. The presentation was well received and some interesting questions were raised.
The conference offered me a great opportunity to interact with prestigious researchers in the area of Arctic Health. During the coffee breaks, lunches and evening dinner the networking with other researches resulted in new collaborations, which I am certain that my ongoing PhD project and future health research can benefit from.