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Strike with Arguments, Defend Your Ideas: Key Takes from The Genomics and Science Dojo

The Genomics and Science Dojo (GSD) is a unique training program for Indonesian researchers in genomics and science. Unlike traditional conferences, the GSD uses an immersive and experiential approach that blends martial arts principles with critical thinking and scientific practice to help researchers develop their skills and advance their work.


A group of scientists gathered in a large circle, spreading their arms forward and did a little mindfulness practice. Leading them were two ‘Senseis’, Daniel Fatori and Felipe Argolo, who taught the participants about awareness and its importance in research. 


This practice is part of the Genomics and Science Dojo, a non-traditional capacity-building training program for genomics and science researchers in Indonesia. Arranged with the support of the UK Embassy in Indonesia, this series is unlike many other research training programs. 

mindfulness exercise


As translated from Japanese, The Genomics and Science Dojo (The GSD) is intended to be a "Place of the Way." It builds on the principles of martial arts, where science is pursued via direct practice of core skills and by “sparring,” which involves criticism and defence of one's ideas in matches. It embraces the critical nature of science that suits the culture of people in Southeast Asia, which often promotes non-confrontational engagements rather than open critical discussions. 


Yuni Dwi Setiyawati, CEO Summit Institute for Development


“It’s a new way of training that is done for scientists in Indonesia to advance their capacity, to analyse data, to enhance their use of English for their manuscripts, and to publish their work in the peer reviewed journals, so there are impact in whatever they’ve been doing in Indonesia,” said Yuni Dwi Setiyawati, CEO Summit Institute for Development. 


Unlike traditional conferences that focus on presenting results from research, the GSD aims for immersive and experiential learning experiences in genomics and science. In the GSD, researchers are invited to share their ideas, challenge others, and receive peer feedback to develop their ideas. It also includes practices of critical thinking, positive psychology, and English language to sharpen thinking and rhetorical skills, all melded into an approach referred to as “Shinjitsu,” i.e., a pursuit of truth.


The series comprised The Dojo Sprints # 1-3, The Shinjitsu Tournament, and The Workshop held from 25 January to 10 March 2024, in Jakarta and Lombok. Throughout the sessions, participants followed classes taught by “Senseis,” exchanged ideas and knowledge, made new connections, and also enjoyed their time together in the concrete building blocks of Jakarta and by the beautiful seaside of Kuta Mandalika in Lombok.


Senseis

There would be no Dojo without Senseis. They played an important role in the participants' learning and development. The Senseis are mentors, a group of international and national experts who share their expertise in genomics and other scientific disciplines. They guide participants in enhancing their data analysis abilities, as well as their public communication skills. The Senseis also assist participants in writing scientific papers, ensuring they convey good-quality analysis and scientific arguments, as well as showcasing their best "WOW factors."


Listed below are the Senseis of the GSD: 

Daniel Fatori, Ph.D, from University of São Paulo Medical School.

Felipe Argolo, MD, Ph.D,  University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

dr. Ariel Pradipta, M.Res, Ph.D, Dept. Biochemistry and  Molecular Biology, Medical Department University of Indonesia / Chief Scientific GSI Lab

Prof. dr. Rina Agustina, M.Sc, Ph.D, Professor of Nutrition at Department of Nutrition and Chair of Human Nutrition Research Center, IMERI Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia

Dr. Anuraj Shankar, D.Sc,  Head of Community Health Research at OUCRU Indonesia

Prof. Setia Pramana, S.Si, Ph.D, Head of Data Processing and Analysis, Statistics Indonesia – Indonesia.

Peter Lubell-Doughtie, Chief Technology Officer ONA


Participants 

The GSD drew 60 participants from 25 institutions, many of whom travelled long distances to Jakarta and Lombok for this rare opportunity. The program attracted participants from a wide range of scientific disciplines, and various occupations. Among institutions joining were  YARSI University, Brawijaya University, Gajah Mada University, North Sumatra University, National Research and Innovation Agency, Biology Vaccine Institute, INBIO Indonesia, and many more.


Fachrur and Naila, Participants of The GSD


Fachrur Rizal Mahendra was so excited to join the GSD. Fachrur, who is currently a Master student from IPB University in Bogor, West Java, saw an opportunity to connect with other researchers from different disciplines.


“The GSD provides access to discussions with various researchers and mentors who are experts in their fields,” he said. “We gain various insights into research methods that we previously did not understand and after that we can apply them in our research”.


The GSD also welcomed a number of researchers joining from different academic levels, as it aimed to facilitate experiential learning and enhanced critical thinking among researchers of different stages. 


Even though Naila Salsabila Mawardi had just graduated a few months ago from Brawijaya University, she was so eager to join from Day 1. Despite having much less experience than her peers, Naila showed a strong interest and commitment to join the workshop. She took the opportunity to engage, learn and actively participate in every discussion and class. Naila’s strong commitment finally showed off, as she was granted a spot to attend the Workshop in Lombok. 


“From the experience and the expertise level, we are not taught something like this in most of the universities in Indonesia. Thus show the discrepancy between me and other participants who already have their PhD degree,” she said. “This workshop is important especially for scientists in Indonesia, because this can really transform the way we do science in Indonesia.”


Launching Event

The GSD was officially launched on January 19, 2024. The launch event kicked off with an inspiring opening speech from the British Embassy, setting the tone for an evening dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and excellence. Among the speakers were Dr. Anuraj Shankar, who illuminated common pitfalls in research design and execution for a strong scientific foundation. Dr. Ariel Pradipta then guided participants through the inception of their research journey, providing invaluable advice on commencing the quest for knowledge. The engaging sparring demonstration by Dr. Shankar and Dr. Pradipta showcased the artistry and precision required in the scientific realm, leaving the audience inspired.




Dojo Sprints 

While the main goal of The GSD is to equip researchers with the best support system possible to produce and publish scientific manuscripts, the training also equips participants with skills to perform high-quality research. This was achieved through Dojo Sprints #1-3, held from January 25 to February 17.


Dojo Sprint # 1: Sensei Felipe Argolo guided participants on mindfulness and awareness in research. Senseis Daniel Fatori and Ariel Pradipta covered breaking tradition, building horizontal relationships, and overcoming scientific barriers. In a workshop on "WOW figures" presentation, each team presented a draft of graphs or figures to represent their data. The Senseis and other teams provided advice and feedback to refine and improve the proposed figures. (Embedded photo of Dojo Sprint 1, if available)


Dojo Sprint # 2: The Senseis covered topics such as hypothesis and falsifiability, study designs, limitations, guidelines, exploring insecurities, and sequencing technologies overview. Sensei Felipe closed Sprint # 2 with an introduction to bioinformatics, including phylogenetic trees. (Embedded photo of Dojo Sprint 2, if available)


Faris Izzatur Rahman from GSI Lab was asking a question during Dojo Sprint # 2


Dojo Sprint # 3: Participants learned about developing emotional regulation in scientific settings and practiced debating using a "combat" style called "sparring." This session sharpened their scientific communication skills, emphasizing high-quality science and critical thinking. They explained their research projects in two minutes and received questions from opponents who challenged their ideas, methodology, or other aspects. Opponents aimed for strong arguments, while presenting teams defended their ideas.


This session prepared participants for the Tournament, where they would compete for a spot in the Genomics and Science Workshop held on March 6-10 in Lombok. Additionally, to enhance communication and debating skills, Sensei Ariel Pradipta shared a session on advanced genomics informatics analysis and visualization interpretation, refining the "WOW factors" in their research. Sprint # 3 also served as a preparation for the double-elimination tournament format. (Embedded photo of Dojo Sprint 3, if available)


Shinjitsu Tournament

The highlight of the GSD, the Tournament, was a series of "Sparring" sessions organized as a double-elimination competition held at YARSI University on 2 March, 2024. This format allowed losing teams a chance to redeem themselves. 3 best teams will be granted a spot in the Workshop, where they got intensive mentoring sessions with Senseis and their peers to develop high quality manuscripts. While the other 12 teams were selected based on their scores following activities and participations during the Dojo Sprints.


Three winners of Shinjitsu Tournament were Summit Institute for Development as the First Winner, National Research and Innovation Agency as the Second Winner, and YARSI University as the third winner.




The Tournament was also livestreamed on our YouTube channels, which videos were embedded to our website. 


Presentation of team from RSIA Stella Maris Medan - Universitas Sumatera Utara

Sparring session livestreamed

Research Posters of participants



Third Winner, YARSI University

All Shinjitsu Tournament participants



The Workshop

Unlike The Dojo Sprints and Shinjitsu Tournament, the Workshop was held in Lombok. From 6-10 March 2024, the participants were welcomed to stay at Raja Kuta, South Lombok. During these five days, they had the chance to refine their research manuscript assisted by the Senseis, and gained more knowledge on understanding manuscript writing, publishing journals, Bioinformatic, Machine Learning and AI, and many more. But not only that, the participants also had the chance to tour around South Lombok and visited Sade, a traditional village of Lombok, and gathered in a appreciation dinner. The Workshop concluded with participants receiving certificates.


During The Workshop session



During The Workshop session



Traditional performance in Sade Village




Impact

While the program may seem intensive, that's precisely what The Genomics and Science Dojo is designed for. Aimed to improve health and policy status in Indonesia, the project serves to facilitate researchers with the best possible support to ensure that the unanalyzed data get published in the high impact journals. Following the Workshop, fifteen publications are expected from participating researchers. It is hoped that the publication in these journals can lead to a change of both national and global health policy. 


Beyond manuscript development, The Genomics and Science Dojo fosters opportunities for researchers to learn from peers, establish interdisciplinary collaborations, and enhance their science communication skills. The program also aspires to lift the barrier of science by making it more accessible to the public, increase the number of scientific publications by Indonesian researchers, and ultimately enlarge the scientific ecosystem in Indonesia.


Hera and her team partner, Edward Sutanto, came out as the first winner of The Shinjitsu Tournament


“As an early stage researcher, I found the discussions and insights shared during the session to be invaluable. The peer mentor session, in particular, was incredibly enriching.  Overall, the workshop has not only expanded my knowledge but has also reignited my passion for academic research and writing.” Kusuma Herawati, who won the first place of The Shinjitsu tournament, said.


Dr. Anuraj Shankar, one of the founders of the GSD, expressed his impression on how fast the participants improved throughout the period. 


Dr. Anuraj Shankar gave lecture during The Workshop


“It began from the first Dojo Session in January, the participants had some ideas about what they’re trying to do, they’re really progressed in their skills in the Dojo and the Tournament. In the Workshop, many of them have finished manuscripts. This is the first time in Indonesia that I’ve seen participants get a very active ability to go in this Dojo, very encouraged to see this onward and upward,” he concluded.



Will you join us in the next Genomics and Science Dojo?



A recap video of all The Genomics and Science Dojo




We are thankful for The UK Embassy in Indonesia for its continuous support to The GSD program. Their support has been instrumental in providing valuable training and fostering the establishment of a scientific research ecosystem in Indonesia. We also would like to thank our collaborators:  The GSI Lab and Academy, OUCRU Indonesia, IMERI University of Indonesia in making this program a success, including YARSI University for its strong support for the Tournament.



The Genomics and Science Dojo is a collaborative initiative of:




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