Our qualification program comprises three closely linked elements:
1. At its core is a collaborative research project that is multidisciplinary and international in nature. Doctoral researchers carry out their projects in two or more partner labs at both HUB (including Charité, RKI and MPI-IB) and ANU, under the joint supervision of the respective principal investigators.
2. Our comprehensive educational framework develops the expert knowledge doctoral researchers need to conduct their multidisciplinary research projects alongside transferable and additional practical skills training to complement their scientific and personal development.
3. We have evolved our supervision model towards integrated supervision to enhance the IRTG training program. Every student’s scientific and personal development and the research project are accompanied by input on several levels, supervisors, the thesis advisory committee (TAC), and all the members of the IRTG consortium of faculty, students and the coordinator. For more information, see below.
Upon completion of the IRTG 2290 research and training program, students are awarded a joint PhD according to the Dual PhD agreement established between the HUB and the ANU.
Year 1: In the first year, the doctoral training focuses on providing orientation and a solid foundation to establish strong, collaborative projects and enhance students’ confidence as responsible scientists through IRTG-specific lecture and seminar series and practical training. A biweekly Journal Club, which is self-organized by the students, familiarizes them with the latest developments in the field, current literature and state-of-the-art methodology. This work will also help them fulfill one of the requirements for graduation at ANU – to write a literature review at the end of the first year. In year one, we will also offer a 3-day management course to help them navigate their project, learn time and digital management, develop multilateral communication and identify and solve conflicts.
Year 2: In the second year, the spotlight is on creativity, networking and communication skills. This proficiency will help PhD students during their research stay to develop new ideas, to swiftly integrate them into their new environment and to comfortably communicate with other scientists. Doctoral researchers will be supported by the IRTG faculty, lab members and training opportunities at the partner institution, to provide a stable integration into the new research environment during their research stay. Students will be encouraged to further develop their scientific writing and presentation skills and strengthen their international scientific networks through specific transferable skills training offered by the IRTG. At this point, students will also be encouraged to participate in international conferences and meetings to present and discuss their work and gain new perspectives and ideas for their ongoing research. A central element will be the student-organized Malaria Symposium, where they will present their data to peers in malaria research.
Year 3: The final year will be devoted to preparing students for graduation and their future careers. The curriculum will encompass advanced training on scientific writing and communication, preparing for the defense and applications for grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The IRTG will give doctoral researchers the opportunity to envisage diverse academic and alternative career opportunities after their PhD by introducing them to different occupations. Doctoral researchers will be able to start working towards specific career paths by acquiring essential skills in the framework of their doctoral training. In individual and thesis advisory committee meetings, supervisors, mentors and the coordinator will support PhD students in their transition to the next career step.
We aim to give scientists a broad understanding of different approaches to diverse research questions. Lectures, tutorials and colloquia are organized by the IRTG program or by other institutions. Inviting speakers for colloquia and tutorials exposes students to the spectrum of malaria research and provides opportunities for students to speak one-on-one with internationally renowned researchers. Such invitations offer more than external conferences, where the attention of scientists is divided among many presentations and meetings. To familiarize our students with the diverse expertise of our members, which ranges from medicine to mathematical modeling, we established the PI lecture series, in which the principal investigators in the program offer lectures to each generation of students. We enriched the content of this series with topics covering the important fields of vector biology, metabolomics, medicinal chemistry and clinical approaches. The established Malaria Seminar series will continue as a joint event on a monthly basis, alternately organized by students and faculty members from HUB or ANU. This is an excellent opportunity for effective networking that helps students at all stages of their PhD to get unique expert knowledge in their field and build strong ties for potential future career options. A fortnighty journal club run by students helps them adjust to the new, complex research field particularly in the first year of their PhD, and fosters scientific exchange and reflection.
The PhD is only one step along the career path of our students, and the IRTG program is committed to supporting the students as they prepare for the future. We will continue to organize a range of career seminars for IRTG students that have been established during the first funding period. With collaborating graduate schools within the IRI GS, we will continue the monthly Life after PhD seminar series which is very successful and well appreciated by the students. We will also continue to offer our Academic Career lunch, at which speakers in the BCMS series share their experiences and specifically focus on career development in academia. Additionally, we will invite IRTG 2290 alumni from the first generation to these seminars for the second generation. To close the circle of our established network, they will be invited to share the career paths they have embarked on following their PhD in our graduate program.
Integrated supervision will be achieved on different levels: Scientific, career and administrative support through (1) regular and frequent meetings of the students with both of their supervisors, (2) subgroup meetings of students and faculty members with related research questions, (3) regular progress reports and TAC meetings, (4) monthly status report meetings of student and faculty members at both universities, and (5) occasional and on-request meetings between the student and the coordinator who is also in contact with the respective supervisors.
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