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4 December 2000

New Study Grant Programme for English-Language "Molecular and Cellular Biology" Course at the University of Heidelberg

International Master's degree course in "Molecular and Cellular Biology" launched in the winter semester 2000 at the University of Heidelberg — Today seven foreign students received a study grant joint-funded by the C.H.S. Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service

Effective as of winter semester 2000, the Faculty of Biology of the University of Heidelberg is running an international English-language Master's degree course in "Molecular and Cellular Biology" (MCB). Of the 15 students on the course at present 10 are from abroad and 5 are German. Today, seven of the foreign students received a grant joint-funded by the C.H.S. Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service. At the grant-awarding ceremony, rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke stressed the importance of new courses such as this for the increasingly international orientation of the University. Expressing his appreciation of the role of sponsors in the funding of special University programmes, he thanked Professors Chica and Heinz Schaller for their commitment to this venture.

Today graduates in molecular biology are much coveted. Molecular biology and biotechnology are rapidly expanding research fields and the need for highly qualified students is high. In this connection the University of Heidelberg is no exception. With a view to making Heidelberg even more attractive for foreign students the Faculty of Biology has now launched this new MCB course, receiving applications from 80 potential candidates.

The Master's course notable for small work groups

Ten of the 15 students now on the course come from abroad, five from Germany. They all have a three-year study history or longer in biology and all have Bachelor degrees. The Master's degree "Molecular and Cellular Biology" takes 1½ years and provides its graduates with the qualifications needed to embark on a doctorate in a research lab. The course is notable for the small groups the students work in. The scientists teaching the course also provide instruction in experimental lab research. The working language is English, the international lingua franca for scientific research. The teaching staff is made up of scientists from the University of Heidelberg, the German Cancer Research Centre, the European Micro-Biology Lab (EMBL) and the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Medical Research.

Recruiting outstanding students from all over the world

One problem facing many students, especially from abroad, is paying for their studies. Most American universities have an award pool which they can draw on to recruit outstanding students from all over the world. An initial step in devising a similar scheme for the MBC course has now been taken with the assistance of the C.H.S. Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service.

Today, rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke presented the seven study grants to Fei Ying Cheong (University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur), Jaime Greene (George Washington University, USA), Danz-hi Huang (Shanghai University, China), Tracy La Grassa (State University of New York, USA), Felipe Mora-Bermúdez (University of Costa Rica, San José), Fabrizia Stavru (Free University, Berlin) and Jiancong Xu (Fudan University, Shanghai, China). The joint fund amounts to 73,500 marks, thus making it possible to place a monthly grant of DM 700 at the disposal of the seven recipients for the space of 15 months.

The C.H.S. Foundation: emphasis on neurobiology and molecular infection research

The aim of the C.H.S. Foundation is to support scientific study and research in the biomedical field at university research institutions; special emphasis is placed on neurobiology and molecular infection research. One of the measures at the University of Heidelberg receiving support from this source is the award of study grants to post-doctoral and doctoral students and undergraduates. The two founders of the scheme, Chica and Heinz Schaller, have long been closely associated with the University of Heidelberg, the Faculty of Biology and the Molecular Biology Centre ZMBH. Prof. Dr. Chica Schaller taught at the University for a number of years and was research group leader at EMBL, the MPI of Medical Research and the ZMBH. Today she is executive director of the Molecular Neurobiology Centre of the University of Hamburg.

Heinz Schaller and the first genetically engineered vaccine

Prof. Dr. Heinz Schaller (now retired) was Professor of molecular biology and microbiology at the Heidelberg ZMBH. Successful at an early age, he devoted much of his energy to turning the results of his basic research to account in biomedical practice. With the Ken Murray research group (Edinburgh) and the Biogen S.A. biotechnology company he succeeded in developing the first ever genetically engineered vaccine, a safe and effective inoculation against Hepatitis B. This vaccine has been in use since 1985, protecting millions of people against one of the most widespread infectious diseases known to mankind.

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Berhard Dobberstein
ZMBH, University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 282, D- 69120 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/546825, fax: 545892

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 13.12.2000


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