International Research Training Group

Deciphering the determinants and dynamics of hepatitis virus persistence and control requires a highly interdisciplinary approach encompassing virology, immunology, cell biology, systems biology, bioimaging and clinical hepatology. To meet the demands of this interdisciplinary research, talented and specifically trained students and young scientists are of decisive importance. Therefore, we propose an Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) entitled Immunovirology for PhD as well as MD students as an important component for the sustainable success of TRR179. PhD and MD students are educated side by side to promote interdisciplinary communication between scientists and physicians and to facilitate rapid translation into the clinics. As an important element, the IRTG seeks to attract especially MD students into the research topic of TRR179 and supports their full-time scientific education by providing 12 months-stipends. Excellent young scientists are recruited from within and outside of Europe by an active recruitment process. Selected students are trained using a well-structured programme featuring close supervision paired with fostering of motivation and self-responsibility. Key features of the programme are special training courses, soft skill seminars and scientific education with interactive lecture series, laboratory exchanges and annual retreats. A thesis advisory committee monitors the progress of every student. The purpose of this committee is not only to supervise the scientific work, but also to advise the students in soft-skills required, career-planning and to support them in building up their own scientific network. To connect the three TRR179 locations in Heidelberg, Freiburg and Munich, each student has a team of co-supervisors with complementary expertise from at least one of the other cities in addition to the local supervisor(s). Regular trans-regional events, laboratory exchanges and casted common seminars will be in place to further minimize the geographical separation. In this respect, the IRTG will provide important education and at the same time serve as connecting tie between the doctoral students of the TRR179 locations. The IRTG will also offer a scientific and social basis for an excellent masterclass at the intersection of hepatology, immunology and virology. In addition, to foster gender equality the IRTG offers access to specific local mentoring programmes, coaching and training courses. Flexible support and coverage of additional costs for childcare and for conference attendance are offered specifically to PhD and MD students with children to help them to take advantage of the offers provided by the IRTG.