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.
For general information on doctoral studies at LMU, see
Check out the over 250 nanotechnology degree programs in the Nanowerk nanoDEGREE database.
Source: LMU Munich