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A lab at TUM's chair of Biophysics.
Can life-like processes, functions, and objects be simulated and replicated in a lab? These are the kinds of questions that the new Max Planck School „Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life“ will deal with. (image: Eckert / TUM)
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TU Munich is founding partner of the Max Planck School “Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life”TUM and MPG strengthen their partnership to promote young scientists

Starting in 2018 the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Max Planck Society (MPG) will join several partners to break new ground:  at the Max Planck School “Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life” , selected university students and Doctoral candidates will be taught by Germany's best researchers in order to research the basic principles of living systems.

German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka today announced which three Max Planck Schools won out in stiff competition to enter the five-year pilot phase. One winner was the Max Planck School “Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life” , developed by the TUM together with eleven Max Planck Institutes, the Universities of Heidelberg and Göttingen and the DWI Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen.

By founding this Max Planck School, TUM and MPG are further expanding their successful partnership in the Excellence Initiative. Having jointly appointed top junior researchers to MPG junior research group leader positions and TUM professorships in the context of the TUM Faculty Tenure Track since 2015, they are now consolidating their strengths in the research-oriented education of Master's students and the creation of a unique research environment for outstanding Doctoral candidates.

Additional support for talents

Above and beyond the excellent conditions offered by the TUM, as recipients of Max Planck School scholarships a select group of TUM students will in the future profit from the numerous continuing education programs and research infrastructures of the other Max Planck School partners in the course of their Master's degree programs and their Doctoral studies. The regular TUM curriculum will be enhanced to include mentoring groups, intensive courses and rotating laboratory research.

“Our junior researchers will benefit enormously from the unconventional formats and the scientific excellence of this topically-oriented and multi-location Max Planck School,” says Prof. Thomas Hofmann, Senior Vice President - Research and Innovation at TU Munich. “There young talents will learn from the best of the best at the interface between chemistry, physics and biology and will formulate answers and technological solutions for the pressing scientific questions of what life actually is, how lifelike functions can be created synthetically and what the resulting ethical consequences for our society will be.”

20 students in the first year

20 students with outstanding Bachelor's degrees will form the first year of the Max Planck School “Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life” . After selection by the Max Planck School, TUM students in the Master's degree programs for Biophysics, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biomedical Computing, Bioinformatics, Applied Engineering Physics, Nanoscience & Catalysis and Medical Technology and Engineering can be admitted to the “Master Academy” as scholarship recipients. After two years they receive the respective M.Sc. degree from TUM. This is followed by a Doctoral studies phase lasting approximately three years. Here the right to confer the Doctorate is vested in the respective university at which the student of the Max Planck School is matriculated. As members of the TUM Graduate School, all TUM Doctoral candidates are subject to the university-wide Doctoral degree regulations of the TUM.

Germany-wide consolidation of expertise

While the Excellence Initiative focuses primarily on supporting leading-edge science at individual locations and has succeeded in further raising the level of selected Excellence Universities in the context of international competition, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research intends for the Max Planck Schools to now drive the nationwide networking of the best talents within Germany.

“Skeptics regard the non-university research of the Max Planck Society as competition and fail to recognize the unused synergy potentials,” says Prof. Hofmann. “Conversely, TUM is now making a pointed effort to consolidate the respective strengths of university and non-university research. This is the only way possible for us to attain our shared objective of making Germany the international leading source of science.” After the joint appointments with the Max Planck Society and the TUM Faculty Tenure Track appointment and career model for top young academic talents, the partnership is now to be raised to an entirely new level of potential through the innovative concept of the Max Planck Schools. “With the Schools we are creating an enormous incentive for the best university students and Doctoral candidates from throughout the world.”

In addition to its contribution to the Max Planck School “Physics, Chemistry and Construction of Life”, TUM is part of another project during the five-year pilot phase: Prof. Arthur Konnerth, director of TUM’s Institute of Neuroscience, is one of the researchers at the “Max Planck School of Cognition”.

Further Information:

Press release by the Federal Minister of Education and Research (German)

TUM Graduate School

Corporate Communications Center

Technical University of Munich

Article at tum.de

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