Outstanding Young Doctoral Students Meet at Heidelberg Latin America Center
8 November 2013
Doctoral students from Latin America and Europe will be meeting in Santiago de Chile from 19 to 29 November 2013 for Heidelberg University’s first Santander International Summer School. All 17 outstanding young researchers from Argentina, the Czech Republic, Chile, France and Portugal, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have successfully applied for grants enabling them to participate in the course on the subject of “Visualization and Manipulation of Organismal Morphogenesis”. With its summer school, Heidelberg University offers these students the opportunity to engage in various research topics centred around molecular developmental processes in plants and animals and to learn from renowned scientists from various European and Latin American universities. The summer school is funded by Santander Universidades at the Heidelberg Latin America Center and the Centro Fondap de Regulación del Genoma at the University of Chile and ends with a two-day symposium open to the public.
The focus of the first Santander International Summer School, entitled “Getting in Shape – Visualization and Manipulation of Organismal Morphogenesis”, is on the structure and use of a novel light-sheet microscope. The principle behind the microscope is based on thin “light sheets” generated by a laser. These enable researchers to undertake long-term, extremely gentle observation of developmental processes with the highest possible temporal and spatial resolution. “The physics behind this new kind of microscope has been developed over the past few years, not least in Heidelberg, and has generated an abundance of new research issues in the life sciences,” says Prof. Dr. Jochen Wittbrodt of Heidelberg University’s Centre for Organismal Studies, who will be speaking at the summer school and is one of the scientific coordinators of the event. The outstanding new features of this microscope make it possible to observe swift morphological processes in the context of an entire organism over a period of several days. The researchers have thus created a tool that will in the future enable them to observe the genesis and movements of up to 60,000 cells, reconstruct them in a digital atlas and on that basis decipher the natural blueprints for the development of tissues, organs and entire organisms.
So far, research on and with light-sheet microscopes has been restricted to a handful of outstanding centres in Europe (including Heidelberg and Dresden) and the USA. The aim of the Santander Summer School is to have the participating students build the first light-sheet microscope in South America with the aid of the expertise of various work groups. The doctoral students will be trained on site in this cutting-edge technology and the practical courses will be accompanied by lectures and presentations. “In this way the summer school promotes the transfer of knowledge and technology between Latin America and Europe and at the same time helps establish new scientific networks between the two continents,” says Prof. Wittbrodt. About 120 participants are expected to attend the two-day symposium on 28/29 November rounding off the first Santander International Summer School at the University of Chile, Heidelberg’s partner university.
In the framework of its cooperation with Banco Santander, Heidelberg University receives funding resources from the División Global Santander Universidades, which are used for the organisation of international winter and summer schools with participants from Latin America, Europe and Asia. These events are planned to take place alternately at the Heidelberg Center for Latin America, the Heidelberg Center South Asia in New Delhi (India), the International Science Forum Heidelberg (IWH) and a university in Japan. The summer schools set out to encourage mobility on the part of young scientists and support the emergence of new networks of excellence in research. The second summer school in the series is scheduled to take place at the IWH next April and focuses on neuroeconomics, a combination of neurosciences and economics. Its title is “Frontiers in Neuroeconomics - How Social and Individual Context Matters for the Biological Mechanisms of Behaviour”.