Academic field for the future: ’Matter to Life’

Göttingen and Heidelberg Universities will in future offer a joint Master’
Göttingen and Heidelberg Universities will in future offer a joint Master’s degree in the interdisciplinary programme ’Matter to Life’. Göttingen University President Professor Metin Tolan (right) and the Rector of Heidelberg University, Professor Bernhard Eitel, signed an agreement to this effect yesterday in Göttingen. Photo: Göttingen University/Peter Heller
Göttingen and Heidelberg Universities offer joint Master’s degrees

Göttingen and Heidelberg Universities will in future offer a joint Master’s degree in the interdisciplinary programme "Matter to Life". Göttingen University President Professor Metin Tolan and the Rector of Heidelberg University, Professor Bernhard Eitel, signed an agreement to this effect yesterday in Göttingen. This kind of programme and degree are unique in Germany. Built on the approach of the Max Planck School (MPS) of the same name, from which they originated: to identify the world’s best early career researchers in this new field of the future, Matter to Life, bringing them to Germany in order to integrate them sustainably into the German research network. The rapidly developing and future-focussed field of "Matter to Life" deals with understanding the building blocks of living systems, developing and constructing new processes and systems -like life-. To achieve this, it combines content from physics, chemistry, engineering and life sciences.

"This unique connection between two leading universities in Germany within the framework of the Max Planck School Matter to Life ensures the long-term sustainability of the programme," says MPS spokesperson Professor Joachim Spatz, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg and scientist at the Heidelberg University. "The joint degree programme is another important step in anchoring our Max Planck School in the German science system."

The idea for such a joint Master’s degree at locations with outstanding research in the newly developing field of Matter to Life came about in 2017 in the course of the successful application as a Max Planck School. The aim of the Max Planck Schools is to attract the best early career researchers after completing their Bachelor’s degree. These researchers will join a structured Master’s doctoral programme that brings together the scientific excellence spread across locations in Germany. "With the joint degree, students in the Matter to Life Master’s programme, which started in 2019, now have the opportunity for the first time to obtain a joint Master’s degree at the top universities of Göttingen and Heidelberg," says Tolan.

The rules, regulations and curriculum for the programme were standardised across the borders and harmonised with the respective higher education laws of the federal states. -This new joint-degree programme, affords us another important way to compete internationally for the best scientists at an early stage in their career and, in the long-term, to make cutting-edge research in Germany even more internationally competitive," says Eitel.

The concept of Max Planck Schools was initiated by the President of the Max Planck Society, Professor Martin Stratmann. Alongside the Max Planck School of Cognition, and the Max Planck School of Photonics, the MPS Matter to Life is one of three schools in thriving interdisciplinary research fields. Around 60 scientists from eight universities and 15 research institutions across Germany are involved in the Matter to Life graduate programme, and more than 50 percent of the students are international. Further information can be found at https://mattertolife.maxplanckschools.org/de/home.