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GRK2504 training members

Based on its research concept at the interface to translational medicine, this initiative wants to offer structured doctorates in natural sciences as well as in medicine. In addition, clinician scientists are included in the training programme to advance their academic careers and to further connect basic science and clinical application.

Doctoral candidates and clinician scientists funded from other sources (associated training members) at the FAU are recruited annually for a maximum of 30 training members. They are equally integrated into the appropriate curricula.

As an integral component of the collaboration, FAU graduates are recruited to perform their studies at the Ragon Institute and to finally defend their doctorates in natural sciences at the FAU. These doctoral candidates equally participate in the GRK2504 retreats and benefit from the mentoring programme, but are exempt from other qualification measures.

Objectives of the qualification programme

The fundamental objectives of the qualification measures are (i) to endorse research training in the laboratory through GRK2504-specific internal and guest seminars, colloquia and retreats as well as courses on scientific techniques and procedures, (ii) to mediate professional key skills, and (iii) to prepare the training members for an internationally oriented career in academia or industry. Personal responsibility and self-assessment shall be promoted to further develop competence in science, professional and human skills as well as career planning. Beyond research training in the context of their individual projects, the qualification measures detailed below shall prepare the life science trainees for basic research and application-oriented tasks in academia or industry and encourage the medical trainees to pursue a career as physician scientists.

Qualification programme

All training groups are expected to benefit from an intensive scientific exchange within GRK2504, fostered by joint training measures ranging from basic professional skills to project-specific colloquia on translational aspects of antiviral research. In addition, introductory courses for medical students are tailored to their specific requirements. GRK2504-specific training and more general courses are compiled for the individual training groups to accommodate their educational objectives. Compulsory courses are limited in numbers to leave enough time for the actual project work, but may be supplemented by courses at the FAU according to individual requirements and capacities. Furthermore, courses and meetings will be concentrated in blocks to avoid repeated disruption of the research projects throughout the year. Basic timelines are designed for doctorates in natural sciences, doctorates in medicine, and clinician scientists.

GRK2504-specific training measures include intensive mentoring by the participating researchers supplemented by a portfolio of mandatory and and optional courses and events.

  • The GRK2504 internal seminar represents a core activity and is compulsory for all training members. This continuous course takes place weekly during the lecture periods. Presentations by the participating researchers introduce the fundamentals of antiviral strategies in the first lecture period. Thereafter, the training members take responsibility for the programme. This regular meeting provides the opportunity to discuss recent publications, methods, and experimental problems and to organise GRK2504 activities like courses, workshops, and public relation events.
  • The GRK2504 guest seminar will be organised by the participating researchers every two weeks during the lecture periods. Internationally recognised colleagues will be invited to give research seminars on their current work. During the visit, three to five training members with closely related research topics will have one-to-one conversations with the invited guest speakers to present and discuss their own work.
  • GRK2504 retreats are the central event for all RTG members and the cooperation partners from the Ragon Institute. These meetings focus on the presentations by all GRK2504 training members and by the FAU graduates that conduct their research projects in the USA. In addition, 1-2 participating Ragon faculty members will give lectures on their latest research. Furthermore, the General Assembly will discuss current issues and plans of the RTG. The 2.5-day retreat format enables intense scientific exchange and networking. These meetings are scheduled annually in spring near Erlangen. An additional retreat in the Boston area, organised by the collaboration partners from the Ragon Institute, is intended for autumn 2022. Beyond the scientific exchange, this event at the end of the third year will afford to visit the Ragon Institute and to explore postdoctoral opportunities.
  • GRK2504 colloquia in Erlangen constitute a unique training concept of GRK2504. These 1-day workshops will be arranged in spring and autumn each year. They are dedicated to extend the knowledge and readiness towards the requirements for translation of basic research achievements into clinical application. Accordingly, invited speakers will include renowned national and international scientists as well as industry representatives, patent attorneys, and regulatory officers. Speakers can be suggested by all RTG members and selection will consider gender balance. Topics of the colloquia cover recent research results, legal and patent issues, industrial approaches to product development, concepts of clinical studies, clinical monitoring, and ethical issues. As an intended side effect, these meetings will provide insights into non-academic career paths and, therefore, will include extra time for discussions of the speakers with the GRK2504 training members.
  • Company visits supplement the GRK2504 colloquia and the career development workshop (see key skills) as an additional activity targeting informed professional decisions. RTG training members will participate in at least one visit to a biotechnological or pharmaceutical company. The 1-day visits will be arranged based on expression of interest over the course of the GRK2504 colloquia.
  • Clinical visits for small groups (up to 4 persons) are offered during the lecture periods by the participating researchers directly associated with hospitals and by the clinician scientists in training after their return to clinical duty. The 2-hour visits are repeated so that each GRK2504 training member can attend at least one visit per lecture period. Actual clinical cases, including bedside visits when appropriate, are presented and discussed to visualise the clinical background and implications of the research projects.

Transferable training measures include key-skill courses as well as courses on principles and techniques fundamental for life science in general.

  • Key skills training courses provided by experienced external trainers will cover scientific presentation and writing, gender-related communication, and career development. They may be supplemented individually by training opportunities offered by the FAU Graduate Centre and the FAU Office of Equality and Diversity.
  • Training courses on research involving animal experiments and gene technology will be offered according to the legal regulations and shall promote early responsibility and independence of the GRK2504 training members. Animal experimentation and/or gene technology courses are to be selected as appropriate for the individual project requirements.
  • Training on the handling of research data includes a course on literature retrieval and reference management, an introduction to research data management, and workshops on bioinformatics and biostatistics.
  • Training in the rules of good scientific practice Good scientific practice is fundamental to sustainable success in research. A compulsory 2-day workshop within the first year of training will be organised for all GRK2504 training members in Erlangen.
  • Public relation activities are an integral part of the training concept. Therefore, GRK2504 intends to participate in the “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften” that takes place every second year in the Erlangen-Nürnberg area. In addition, GRK2504 training members will offer a mentoring programme to local schools and individual 1-week practicals to highschool students.
  • Language training including both, German classes for international students and scientific English classes, will be made available in cooperation with the FAU “Sprachenzentrum” according to individual requirements. In addition, more project-related English conversation courses may be arranged and offered to all GRK2504 training members.