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Vertically integrated projects (VIP) are an opportunity for students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for research in an in-depth and practical way.

About vertically integrated projects

VIPs are a new and innovative addition to the learning process providing students of all levels with important practical knowledge in conducting research activities. Since the 2019 autumn semester there are six VIP teams working at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) that carry out various research and activities.

VIP teams composed of both students and researchers are multidisciplinary and vertically integrated, which means that both first-year students from the social platform and residency students can work on the same team. Accordingly, a full-fledged team is formed, in which students acquire knowledge both from experienced lecturers and from their team members.

The planned composition of a team is from 5 to 15 students, and there are no application restrictions. Thus, students can work in the VIP team for the rest of their studies or for only one semester.

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One of the main benefits of this project is the free access to university resources. I consider the team members' knowledge and experience - leading researcher Žanna Martinsone and specialist Aneka Kļaviņa - to be the most valuable resources. They have shared their knowledge with us by providing advice so that I can perform work tasks independently. I also recommend other students to take this opportunity to participate in this project and be able to work closely with the leading specialists in this field. This project gives me an in-depth understanding of the research processes, the work of the RSU laboratory, as well as the opportunity to acquire various practical skills.

Buka Bērziņa, member of the VIP team 'Ergonomic Workplaces in a Healthy Environment: Indoor Air Quality'

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Our teams

VIP Microbiology

In September 2018, the first team – VIP Microbiology – started working at the Department of Biology and Microbiology. It consists of nine students from the Faculty of Medicine from the third, fourth and sixth year of studies. They have begun developing scientific work on the topic 'Evaluation of Young People in the Aetiology, Transmission, and Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases'.

Over two academic years, the team has submitted four international conference abstracts. In the spring of 2019, VIP Microbiology participated in the 14th Bialystok International Medical Congress for Young Scientists, where it received the highest evaluation in the public health section – first place for the research work done.

In the spring of 2020, VIP Microbiology participated in the RSU International Student Conference and received the highest evaluation in the public health section – first place for the developed research work.

In the autumn of 2019, an RSU medical resident joined the team helping the team to continue its research work on the topic of clinical microbiology.

In the autumn semester of 2019, a second VIP Microbiology team started working at the Department of Biology and Microbiology within a course of Part C of the Medicine study programme. The team consists of students from the Faculty of Medicine from the second, third, and fifth year of studies. The development of research work on the topic 'Microbiological Assessment of Indoor Air Quality in Latvian Schools' has started.

Team leader

VIP Celiac Disease Research Program for Children in Latvia
The team will not be formed in the autumn semester of the 2020/21 academic year.

The aim of the team is to monitor the clinical picture, diagnostic methods, treatment results, as well as to identify specific signalling molecules in the biopsies of celiac patients, as well as to locally determine the factors that most significantly characterise the degree of tissue damage caused by the disease.

Celiac disease is a common chronic small intestine autoimmune disease caused by gluten intolerance in children. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Scientific studies show that the incidence of celiac disease in the world is continuously rising. The scientific relevance of the topic is also evidenced by the international research activity of non-invasive small intestine villi damage markers such as CYP3A4, citrulline, I-FABP, Reg1α, and elafin in children. It should be noted that untreated and misunderstood celiac disease can be complicated by severe disorders that can significantly affect a child’s quality of life.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge of celiac disease in children, the importance of teamwork in research, as well as theoretical and practical skills in writing bachelor’s, master’s, residency and doctoral theses as well as for local and international publications.

Team leader

VIP State Performance and Biosocial Relatedness

The team will not be formed in the autumn semester of the 2020/21 academic year.

The aim of the team is to gain a uniquely detailed understanding based on empirical experience of the interaction between the biosocial relatedness (kinship) and state performance. The results of the research will provide a deeper theoretical understanding of the modern phenomenon of a state, as well as explain the adaptation of formal state structures to the informally existing preconditions and practices in society.

In recent years, issues related to kinship and reproduction, such as the “demographic crisis”, “egg wars”, “children of the system”, international adoption, same-sex marriages, and civil marriages, have become topical in Latvian social and political discourse. There are political efforts to strengthen certain principles of kinship and childbirth through the distribution of public funds (for example, through citizenship or the pension system). This shows that concepts such as blood (kinship), relatives, family, origin are important in the process of state performance and understanding thereof.

Within the framework of the research work, the team plans to conduct a more detailed study of the interaction between state performance and kinship in five areas:

  1. manifestations of kinship in the course of daily life;
  2. interaction of kinship with bureaucratic institutions and regulations (communication with state institutions on issues concerning kinship: inheritance, marriage, funeral, birth registration, etc.);
  3. biosocial relatedness in the context of political regulation;
  4. identification of historical biosocial kinship and connection thereof with the state (efforts of the population to identify their genealogical roots in the formation of their family tree);
  5. development of new biotechnologies and their interaction with the understanding of biosocial relatedness.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge in the field of kinship anthropology and political anthropology and skills to apply qualitative research methods in data acquisition. They will learn the importance of team work in research, as well as theoretical and practical skills in writing bachelor’s, master’s, residency and doctoral theses as well as local and international publications.

Team leader

VIP Ergonomic Workplaces in a Healthy Environment:Ergonomics

The aim of the team is to build a long-term scientific research and practical innovation base for the development of workplace ergonomic solutions: in the assessment of both furniture and workplace design elements and various modern aids with a focus on developing new methods and making them available, including the analysis of early prototypes developed by industry for their successful commercialisation.

The team is studying the effectiveness of ergonomic aids and their impact on human health (for example, the ergonomics of computer mouse pads and computer mouses, the effect of computer monitor position on neck muscle load, the reduction of undesirable health effects of sedentary work with dynamic sitting techniques). The team will work with designers and entrepreneurs to test and develop product prototypes as well a conduct research in laboratory conditions and during visits to companies. Modern research methods are used, such as infrared digital thermography, surface electromyography, myotonometry, 3D motion analysis. There is work for anyone who wants to work creatively and diligently, learn new skills, conduct research, present and publish results.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge of the basic principles of ergonomics, the importance of teamwork in research, as well as theoretical and practical skills in writing bachelor’s, master’s, residency and doctoral theses as well as for local and international publications.

Team leader

VIP Ergonomic Workplaces in a Healthy Environment: Indoor Air Quality

The aim of the team is to create a basis for long-term scientific research and practical innovation in indoor air quality research with a focus on new materials (including nano, 3D printing, etc.), identifying and evaluating their capabilities, analyse long-term health consequences, develop warning systems, etc.

The team evaluates indoor air quality in the work environment in order to find the most effective solutions during real and experimental research, for example, for humidity control (most often – for increasing indoor humidity), reduction of specific chemical air components (most often – volatile organic compounds). Experiments are carried out in the laboratory and on experimental premises (specially equipped offices) in collaboration with a company manufacturing green walls to understand their shortcomings and to improve their efficiency. In the assessment of indoor air quality, it is also possible to identify other parameters (e.g. dust particles, including nanoparticles, microbiological pollution, noise measurements, electromagnetic field, etc.), as well as to conduct surveys on well-being and health and to carry out medical examinations related symptoms caused by air quality indicators. Students of different levels (bachelors, masters, residents, doctoral students) are invited to join the team, both from health sciences and social sciences, to work together in research, linking the theory gained in the study process with practical skills, learning to work in a team, as well as gaining more knowledge and experience in research processes on specific issues.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge of healthy indoor air, the importance of teamwork in research, as well as theoretical and practical skills in writing bachelor’s, master’s, residency and doctoral theses as well as for local and international publications.

Team leader

RSU vertically integrated projects are implemented as a part of ESF co-financed project Improvement of Governance Processes and Modernisation of Contents of Study Programmes at Rīga Stradiņš University (No. 8.2.3.0/18/A/011).