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Posted: July 14, 2010
Nanobiotechnology doctoral program in Munich
(Nanowerk News) The International Doctoral Program NanoBioTechnology
(IDK-NBT) is a doctoral excellence program administrated
by LMU's Center for NanoScience (CeNS). It offers outstanding
graduates interdisciplinary research conditions
and excellent education in the highly promising field of
nanobiotechnology. Last year, the program attracted 280
applicants, and Kamila Klamecka, from Poland, was among
the 32 candidates invited to Munich for a selection workshop,
where she presented her Master's work.
Ultimately among the 15 students adopted in the program,
Kamila Klamecka is now writing her thesis as a collaborative
project shared by CeNS Professors Heinrich Leonhardt (biology)
and Hermann Gaub (physics). "Arrangements of this
kind reflect the multidisciplinary aspect of the Doctoral Program,"
explains CeNS Scientific Manager Dr. Marie-Christine
Blüm. "They also enhance collaborative activities across different
research areas that are an explicit aim of CeNS."
Founded in 1998, CeNS is there to promote, coordinate and
bundle interdisciplinary research in the field of nanoscience
in the Munich area. It incorporates working groups both from
basic research and industry.
A wide-ranging field
Essentially, nanobiotechnology refers to the area of nanotechnology
concerned with biological systems. By exploring
nanoscale structures and material properties at a molecular
level, nanoscientists aim to achieve control on molecular interactions
and functionalities in such a way that novel applications
become feasible. The IDK-NBT involves scientists
from biophysics, physical chemistry, biochemistry, biology
and medicine. "My project spans over a range of fields from
molecular biology to single molecule biophysics," explains
Kamila Klamecka. "I am exploiting nanobodies to bind and
immobilize proteins on a glass surface. Using Atomic Force
Microscopy (AFM), I then measure the interactions between
the nanobody and the bound protein. The AFM provides resolution
down to a single atom and thus is widely used in single
molecule experiments." In a longer perspective, a nanobodybased
protein display could serve as a biodetector for instance
in disease screening.
Support measures for students
The program offers students a number of useful support
measures. Travel expenses and literature are funded, and
new students from abroad attend German courses in Munich to facilitate speedy integration. In addition to the standard
thesis advisor, doctoral candidates benefit from a co-advisor
who evaluates progress reports and then discusses possible
problems or improvements with them. "I was aware that the
IDK-NBT is not a regular PhD program. But with its abundant
offer and versatile support, it definitely exceeds my expectations,"
Kamila Klamecka comments. "Apart from the
vivid and stimulating environment the program provides, I
have also found it helpful in entirely non-academic activities.
This June, together with three other IDK-NBT students,
I am participating in a 24-hour mountain-bike race here in
Munich. Thanks to the enthusiastic commitment of Program
Manager Marilena Pinto, our team has received sponsoring
from four LMU spinoff companies."
Nanotechnology on the rise
Launched in 2004 in response to the burgeoning activities in
nanotechnology, the IDK-NBT started off with 19 PhD students.
In 2009, it already had 42. Around 30 percent of its
members come from abroad, including Australia, Brazil, India
and the Ukraine. Following the introduction of an online
application portal in 2008, application numbers rose from
under 100 previously to almost 300 in 2009, with candidates
from 41 different countries filing information and documents
via the special website.
Many IDK-NBT graduates have stayed on in higher education.
Others have joined various industrial companies such
as Linde, Wacker Chemie or Carl Zeiss. Tim Liedl originally
graduated from CeNS and spent two years as a postdoc in
Harvard. He returned to Munich to become a professor at
LMU in 2009. He has rejoined CeNS and is now offering a
project for this year's selection of scholarship-holders.
About doctoral studies at LMU Munich
Around 1,000 doctoral degrees are awarded in more than
100 subjects at LMU each year. Besides the traditional individual
professorial supervision scheme, LMU is introducing
an increasing number of international doctoral programs.
In a series, insightLMU describes the academic profile and
various services of these programs and gives useful tips on
application conditions and contacts.