The International PhD Programme in Molecular Medicine

Scientific excellence depends on excellently trained young researchers. The training of such researchers is the key task of the International PhD Programme in Molecular Medicine. Our major aims in this respect are:

• cutting-edge research training of young scientists
• scientific independence and self-responsibility of PhD students
• improvement of employability through training in key competences.

Each doctoral student is supervised by a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) consisting of three members: the group leader of the laboratory where the thesis work is performed; a scientist from another institute of Ulm University; and an external reviewer either from industry or from a research institute. Within each TAC, scientists from different disciplines are involved to ensure interdisciplinary training and mentoring in research. The TAC supervises PhD students in their daily laboratory work, monitors the progress of their work and evaluates oral examinations as well as the written dissertation. This multiple supervision approach supports the independence of our PhD students as young researchers.

The International PhD Programme in Molecular Medicine is taught entirely in English. During the three year period of studies, students must take part in a number of compulsory activities. Central teaching activities include the lecture Improve your Textbook Knowledge as well as a Journal Club and the biweekly seminar Progress Report. The lecture Improve your Textbook Knowledge allows graduates from different disciplines to refresh the basic knowledge needed to perform research in molecular medicine independently of their scientific background. In the seminar Progress Report, students are trained to communicate and present their own research data to their fellow students and to place it in a broader international context. Furthermore, graduates must attend a series of 30 lectures a year presented by external speakers. Another important compulsory course is the seminar Good Scientific Practice which takes place at the beginning of practical work.

In addition to curricular seminars and lectures, we offer our PhD students a large variety of optional activities. As one of our aims is to give students insights into the work of industrial employers, we organize excursions to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Summer schools and other scientific events in cooperation with international partner universities and partners from industry motivate students to deepen their knowledge in basic science and practical applications. We also organize scientific retreats focusing on particular research topics. In addition, there is a wide range of key competence seminars organized in order to improve the employability of our graduates. From this variety of optional activities students must choose a minimum of two courses per year.
Within the first two years of doctoral training, students are also expected to attend three practical training sessions in different laboratories or in industry. This allows them to learn new and innovative techniques that go beyond their own research field and to establish contact to possible employers.

A particular element of our training concept is the two intermediate evaluations that our students must pass on completion of their first and second years of study. Both evaluations take place during our international meetings held in April and October of each year and consist of a poster presentation and/or a public talk. Through their public frame the exams help to actively integrate the graduates into the international scientific community and to ensure proper progress in the scientific project. PhD Students have the chance to seek advice from professional international scientists. Only those students who successfully pass their intermediate evaluations may proceed to the next year of study.

At the end of PhD studies, our students can obtain the Germen degree Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr.rer.nat.) or the international degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). They have to decide for one of these degrees after the second intermediate examination. The efforts to obtain either of both degrees are the same.