To maintain stability, organisms need to interpret environmental signals and translate them into appropriate responses in cells and tissues. Over the past 4 years, the SMICH groups have been investigating how signaling mechanisms regulate processes such as autophagy or adaptation of gene expression. “For the new funding period we have refocused our scientific goals to include more research on mechanisms of stress adaptation, cell fate decisions and proteostasis”, says Max Perutz Labs group leader Manuela Baccarini, who coordinates the doctoral program. The new faculty members of the Perutz and the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) combine a wide spectrum of techniques and scientific approaches, engaging students in multidisciplinary projects and training. “We have also adapted the program to include training-on-the-job in cutting-edge microscopy techniques, mathematics and network biology”, says Manuela Baccarini.
Apart from fully funded PhD positions, the program offers a variety of activities aimed and strengthening collaboration and exchange between students and faculty. Yearly retreats, work-in-progress sessions, and thesis advisory committees support students in improving their presentation skills and provide regular feedback from group leaders as well as from their peers. “Especially these opportunities to receive feedback have tremendously helped me in the first year of my PhD”, says Sara Scinicariello, who pursues her studies in the lab of Gijs Versteeg. “We receive training in a broad variety of techniques, which enables us to be highly competitive after our PhD”, adds SMICH-PhD student Laura Boccuni. Students also have access to a range of courses and receive financial support for attending symposia and for cooperating with other labs.
The program started in 2017 and currently has 21 PhD students from 18 different nations in 12 research groups. Thanks to the positive evaluation, SMICH groups will offer many more positions in the upcoming funding period. The next recruitment opportunity will take place within the spring call of the Vienna BioCenter PhD selection.