This article was published in our newsletter. Sign up here.
Regularly meeting one – and sometimes even two – Nobel laureates at lunch is by no means a claim every young scientist can make. When Myroslav Gebura enters the canteen at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, he often sees Professor Stefan Hell and Professor Erwin Neher there. Hell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014, while Neher won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It is thanks not least to people like Hell and Neher that the city of Göttingen and its academic institutions enjoy such an outstanding worldwide reputation in the life sciences.
Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics and Molecular Biosciences
26-year-old Myroslav Gebura initially decided in 2011 to embark on a master’s degree in neurosciences at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen. Since 2013, the Ukrainian has been doing a doctoral degree at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. Myroslav finds it inspiring to work next door to such famous scientists – or to stand with them in the lunchtime canteen queue. Of course, that was not the only reason why he chose to pursue an academic career in Germany. He attends the Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB), which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Excellent support in 13 doctoral degree programmes
The GGNB is a joint initiative of
- four faculties of the University of Göttingen (biology, chemistry, medicine, physics),
- the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (MPI-bpc),
- the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine (MPI-em),
- the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-ds), and
- the German Primate Center (DPZ).
The GGNB currently runs 13 doctoral degree programmes. When Myroslav Gebura graduated with his MSc, he knew that he wanted to apply for a place at the Graduate School: “The lab where I conduct my research is one of the best in the world in my field. Numerous innovations that attracted worldwide attention originated here”, explains the young researcher. He also appreciates the good support provided at the Graduate School: “There are many seminars on scientific subjects and methodology. Rather than being left alone to pursue your research, very good coaching is on offer in many areas.”
His research field is highly complex, which makes him appreciate the intensive support all the more. “My research is about how molecules are transported between the nucleus of the cell and the cytoplasm. I am exploring precisely how this happens. It is important to understand this process, as it is relevant to many areas of biology. Incidentally, the Nanobodies we need to do this are provided by alpacas which live in a shed in the grounds of the institute.”
Living costs are covered
As a rule, the doctoral researchers are given an employment contract or scholarship by the institute where they carry out their research. They receive between 1,100 and 1,400 euros per month. “Thankfully this means I do not have to give significant thought to my financial situation and can concentrate on my research”, says Myroslav Gebura.
Various possibilities for young researchers
Institutes where doctoral candidates can find similarly good conditions in the biosciences include
- the Dresden International Graduate School for Biomedicine and Bioengineering,
- the Graduate School of Life Sciences in Würzburg and
- the Konstanz Research School Chemical Biology.
According to studies such as the CHE Ranking, institutes known for their good support and research in the area of biology and biosciences also include
Life outside the lab is good, too
Myroslav Gebura also enjoys his life outside the lab in Göttingen. “I really like living here. Lots of students live in Göttingen, so there are plenty of leisure opportunities. And life here in Germany is very safe.” He hopes to complete his PhD in ten months’ time. He is not sure exactly what he wants to do then, but one thing is certainly clear: “Many doors are open to me thanks to my excellent education.”