Scientific aims: building upon the increasingly strong links between physics and the life sciences, the programme aims at advancing the quantitative understanding of life processes while at the same time exploring new frontiers of physics. Bringing biological research to a quantitative level requires biophysical research at molecular, cellular and supracellular levels. On the other hand, the increasingly accurate characterisation of biomolecules, networks of supramolecular organisation and interacting cellular networks represent complex many-body problems from which new physics emerges.
The technological section of the school is embedded in the DFG Advanced Microscopy Excellence Cluster and offers advanced microscopy courses. Here, nanoresolution far-field microscopy promises unprecedented spatial resolution in fluorescence microscopy. Single-molecule techniques, such as optical and atomic force microscopy, address individual biomolecules, e.g. when studying the protein 'nano-machines' of the cell. At the atomic level, X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, NMR and solid state NMR probe biomolecular structure and dynamics. These techniques provide complementary information, not only on the structures of single biomolecules, but also on their interactions, which drive the self-organised formation of larger complexes and structures. Research topics include the dynamics of motor proteins, the cytoskeleton, cell division and intracellular transport, communication and sensory processes, as well as structure and pattern formation in systems of interacting cells and tissues (heart muscle). Closely related is research on simplified models systems such as complex fluids (polymers, colloids, membranes and granular materials), hydrodynamics and turbulence, and pattern formation. Neuronal information processing, finally, represents the most complex strongly interacting many-particle system.
Theory and numerical simulations are an integral part of many of the experimental projects. Analytical approaches and atomistic or coarse-grained simulations reveal functional details that can be compared to experiments or may even be inaccessible to experiment. A quantitative understanding of phenomena, such as protein folding, membrane fusion, cell motility/division or tissue dynamics, demands new theoretical physics in the areas of non-equilibrium systems, non-linear dynamics and the dynamics of complex systems.
Training goals: the programme teaches, on the one hand, the development of new cutting-edge techniques that are essential for studying life processes and, on the other hand, the application of new technologies to solve biological questions. The programme will furthermore teach quantitative physical approaches. An important aim is to overcome traditional barriers between the disciplines and expose graduate students to enough physics and enough biology so that they can reach a deeper understanding of language, priorities and scientific culture in both areas, with the long-term goal of preparing students for increasingly interdisciplinary, but also increasingly quantitative research in the life sciences.
The graduate school GGNB offers a joint modular training programme to which all of the twelve doctoral programmes of the GGNB contribute and which is open to all GGNB students. In addition to a lecture and seminar programme, training consists of (1) individual counselling by thesis committees, (2) intensive methods courses of one to three weeks in special training labs, (3) two- or three-day methods courses in the laboratories of the participating faculty, (4) professional skills courses such as scientific writing, presentation skills, intercultural communication, project management, team leadership skills, conflict resolution, ethics and career development, and (5) student-organised scientific meetings, industry excursions and intercultural events. Students are able to tailor their individual curriculum by choosing from a large number of courses and events.
Applicants whose native language is not English are asked to submit proof of proficiency in English. If no English test is available, proficiency in English can be evaluated during a personal interview. Proven higher education in English or a reasonably long stay in an English speaking country may also be accepted.
Master's degree or equivalent in physics, life sciences, or related disciplines
Approx. 22 ECTS
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