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Graduate Training with International Appeal

13 December 2018

Max Planck School Matter to Life being coordinated in Heidelberg


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Signing of the cooperation agreement for the new Max Planck School Matter to Life. Third from right: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University.

The heads of the three participating institutions gathered in Berlin to sign the cooperation agreements for the three new Max Planck Schools – graduate institutions with international appeal. Academics from universities and non-university research organisations will collaborate in cross-regional networks, with outstanding university graduates from all over the world earning their Master's and their doctoral degree. One of these pilot schools, the Max Planck School Matter to Life, is being coordinated in Heidelberg, and Heidelberg University is playing a key role. The school's spokesperson is Prof. Dr Joachim Spatz, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg and professor at the Institute for Physical Chemistry at Ruperto Carola.

The Max Planck School Matter to Life is a joint initiative of Heidelberg University, the University of Göttingen, the Technical University of Munich, the DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen, and several Max Planck Institutes, including the Heidelberg MPI for Medical Research. In addition to the scientists from non-university institutes, outstanding colleagues from other universities and research institutes in Germany were recruited to participate in this research and education network. The Max Planck School Matter to Life bundles distributed excellence in an innovative research field dealing with the construction of lifelike processes and systems.

How can living systems – cells, cell networks, and organisms – be developed and built from molecules and materials? What exactly is life from the viewpoint of physical chemistry? Can lifelike processes, functions, and objects be simulated in the lab? How can living systems be influenced synthetically? These are the basic questions that the Max Planck School Matter to Life will explore, and the programme is open to Bachelor's degree holders in chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and material sciences. Thirty study places will be allocated each year. Students with a Bachelor of Science degree will start at the Max Planck School Matter to Life with a Welcome Course, followed by University courses and lab rotations in order to complete a Master’s degree. Annual summer schools consisting of interdisciplinary courses and research presentations will also be organised. After successfully completing a Master’s thesis, students will be able to continue their laboratory work during their PhD studies.

The Max Planck Schools were selected for funding in September of 2017 as a new type of cooperation in graduate education. In addition to the Max Planck School Matter to Life being coordinated in Heidelberg, a Photonics School and Cognition School were also chosen for funding. They will be supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for a pilot phase of five years with total funding of nine million euros per year. With the signing of the cooperation agreements, the three education and research networks will take up their work in the coming year and accept their first students.

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Latest Revision: 2018-12-19
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