Graduate Training with International Appeal
5. September 2017
Heidelberg University plays a major role regarding the new Max Planck School on Physics, Chemistry and Construction of LIFE
The academic location Heidelberg will in future see the coordination of one of the three new Max Planck Schools. These are post-graduate structures in which top academics from university and non-university research organisations collaborate in cross-regional networks. The aim is for excellent university graduates from all over the world to obtain their doctorate here, preferably first doing their Master’s at the same school. These graduate schools will bring together excellent German scholars in an innovative field of research. Involving mainly researchers at Heidelberg University, the Max Planck School on Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life is one of those that have been selected for funding. Its spokesperson is Prof. Dr Joachim Spatz, director of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg and professor at the Institute for Physical Chemistry of Heidelberg University.
“Heidelberg University is not only the focus of an outstanding research network with strong partners locally, along with many different national and international cooperation arrangements,” stated its president, Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel. “The university is also one of the biggest producers of doctorates in Germany, and can contribute its proven strengths to this new form of interdisciplinary training for young researchers from home and abroad.”
“The Max Planck Schools are a fantastic way of linking up Germany’s brightest and best in their respective fields; this will allow them to make German science more visible internationally and thereby more attractive for outstanding young researchers from across the world,” said Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s minister of science, research and the arts. “The decision in favour of the new schools adds another valuable element to the academic scene of our federal state,” she added.
By now adding a national network as a new kind of cooperation in graduate education, the Max Planck Schools will complement the very successful regional cooperation formats, such as the graduate schools of the Excellence Initiative of the federal and state governments or the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). This is affirmed in a joint press release issued by the Max Planck Society, the German Rectors’ Conference and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Besides the Max Planck School on Physics, Chemistry and Construction of LIFE, a School of Photonics and a School of Cognition were also selected for funding. The three pilot schools will start work in 2018 and the BMBF will support them, initially for five years, with funding totalling nine million euros per year.
The Max Planck School on Physics, Chemistry and Construction of LIFE is a joint initiative of Heidelberg University, Göttingen University and the Technical University of Munich, the Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen and twelve Max Planck Institutes, including the Heidelberg MPI for Medical Research. In addition to the scientists from non-university institutes, it is also possible to recruit outstanding colleagues from a total of ten universities in Germany to work at the new school.
The scientific focus lies on the chemical and physical exploration of life and the construction of life-similar systems. Here the point is the fundamental question of what life really is. Can life-similar processes, functions and objects be simulated and repeated in laboratories? Can these events be described quantitatively and their development forecast? Examining the fundamental principles of life involves not only research areas like biophysics, system chemistry or bioinformatics but also ethical, social and philosophical considerations. The Max Planck School on Physics, Chemistry and Construction of LIFE will primarily admit bachelor graduates who first take a two-year master’s programme and then spend three years obtaining their doctorate. An intake of 20 students per year is planned.