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Once a week, Gang Wang goes to the beach, swapping his lab coat, pipette and test tubes for a t-shirt, ball and sand – and with colleagues from his research institute competes against another team. The way these amateur sports enthusiasts hurl themselves spectacularly into the sand looks pretty acrobatic. They call their sport beach handball, and it is much the same as indoor handball – the only difference being that it is played on sand. The beach where they play is artificial, however, as Gang Wang lives in Karlsruhe in the southwest of Germany. The sea is roughly 500 kilometres away, but this does not bother 27-year-old Gang Wang. After all, the Rhine – Germany’s longest river – flows very close to Karlsruhe. At weekends, the bioengineer likes to set off with friends on bike tours along the river bank, heading towards France.
A unique combination of subjects: bioengineering
The wide range of leisure activities was not the reason why Gang Wang decided in 2009 to move to Karlsruhe, however. “When I left school, I knew that I wanted to study a combination of the subjects biology, chemistry and maths. The only course at the time that could give me exactly what I had in mind was the bioengineering degree on offer at the newly-established Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)”, explains Gang Wang. KIT is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organisation.
At the age of 13, Gang Wang and his parents had moved from China to Bonn in the west of Germany. “I quickly adapted to the Rhineland culture there and felt completely at home. It was not all that easy for me to leave the region to go to university”, recalls the bioengineer. Nonetheless, he has never regretted moving further south. After completing his BSc, Gang Wang also took an MSc at the internationally renowned research institute. Today he is a doctoral student at KIT’s Institute of Bioengineering and Food Technology (only in German). A process known as chromatography – a method of purifying antibodies – is the main focus of his research work. “This is very important in areas such as the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and for the development of vaccines”, the young scientist explains.
“The range of scientific disciplines on offer here at KIT is extremely broad. Some subjects cannot be studied at almost any other research institution in Germany or the world”, says Gang Wang. What is more, the atmosphere in his research group is very pleasant. The scientists like to get together in their free time to play some sport. “Furthermore, first-class researchers are working in many different areas, which means we can learn a lot from one another and engage in a high-level exchange.”
Different career paths for young researchers
Young researchers can also find good conditions for studying bioengineering at many German universities. In studies like the CHE Ranking, the following universities for example score particularly well:
- Hamburg University of Technology
- Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg
- University of Hohenheim
- University of Rostock
Other institutions offering special PhD programmes also provide young researchers with optimal support and supervision throughout their research work. The following is a selection of graduate schools and other institutions in the fields of bioengineering, biotechnology and protein research.
- Dresden International Graduate School for Biomedicine and Bioengineering(DIGS-BB)
- European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg
- Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB), Stuttgart
- Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB)
- German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heidelberg
- Graduate School for Life Sciences (GSLS), Würzburg
- Graduate School Life Science Munich (LSM) within the Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM)
- Integrated Graduate School within the Protonation Dynamics in Protein Function Collaborative Research Centre, Berlin
- Integrated Graduate School within the Supramolecular Chemistry on Proteins Collaborative Research Centre, Düsseldorf
- Leibniz Center for Medicine and Biosciences (FZB), Borstel
- Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried
Fascinating insights into industrial research
Bioengineers can also find a top-class research environment in industry, something that Gang Wang experienced for himself when he undertook an internship at the Roche pharmaceuticals company in Germany. “That give me the chance to apply in practiceeverything that I had previously spent my time studying mainly in theory. Not only was that a lot of fun; it also granted me entirely new insights into my subject”, the young researcher comments. He has not yet decided exactly where he would like to work once he has completed his PhD in a few years’ time. But one thing is certain: he wants to remain in research – be it in theory or in practice.