The University of Münster is setting up a new Research Training Group to be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Starting in October, the PhD students will be undertaking research into the synthesis and modification of small organic molecules with which the status of the opening of so-called ion channels can be systematically controlled. Ion channels are proteins which form pores in cell membranes, thus allowing charged particles to pass through the cell membrane. This process plays an important role for example in the transmission of stimuli in nerve cells. The PhD programme, conducted in English and entitled “Chemical Biology of Ion Channels (Chembion)” will run for four and a half years in the initial funding period and will be receiving around four million euros from the German Research Foundation. A total of 13 new Research Training Groups have been approved for the whole of Germany, the DFG has now announced.
The new Research Training Group at Münster University will be made up of 13 researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine. Its spokesman is Prof. Bernhard Wünsch from the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry. “We will be combining the molecular expertise from pharmacy with cell physiology in order to find out more about ion channels as important chemical instruments of control in cells, tissues and organs,” Bernhard Wünsch explains. “Being able to systematically open and close ion channels could open up a wide range of applications in the treatment of cancer, for example, or of neural diseases,” he adds.
Each PhD student will be supported by two mentors from the fields of Pharmacy and Chemistry and Medicine. Students will become acquainted with new working methods as a result of the “lab rotation” format, by which they switch between labs. Another aim in the programme is for the junior researchers to strengthen their own initiative and their ability to work independently by organising meetings and conferences themselves. A six-month period spent abroad will enable the students in the Research Training Group to exchange ideas and views with international colleagues from their fields of study.
Structured doctoral courses at Münster University
Research Training Groups are set up at universities with the aim of promoting junior researchers. They are funded by the DFG for a maximum of nine years. The central idea is for the PhD students to acquire skills as part of a thematically focused research programme and a structured training scheme. Münster University now has five Research Training Groups which are being funded by the DFG. In addition, there are numerous other structured programmes designed to promote junior researchers, with funding coming from the University or from providers of third-party funding such as the DFG.