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Many young researchers from all kinds of disciplines have one thing in common: during their PhD or postdoctoral programme, they would like to have the chance to join another team for a while and familiarise themselves with different working methods and equipment. Ideally abroad, as this would additionally allow them to experience a new culture and language, and perhaps to view their own research from an unfamiliar perspective. However, this dream often proves impossible for various reasons, for example due to a lack of funding to cover mobility costs.
Funding a period of research abroad
This is where the Programme for Project-Related Personal Exchange (PPP) run by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) comes in: the PPP supports bilateral research cooperation by providing funding to cover mobility costs for young researchers working at German research institutions, allowing them to spend a period of time pursuing research at a partner institution abroad. At the same time, the DAAD’s cooperation partner abroad supports its country’s research group. This strengthens academic relations between the German research institution and its counterpart abroad.
Research Down Under
Currently there are 31 partner countries, with plans to add others in the future. Most PPP applications are submitted by German universities and non-university research institutions with partners in Australia. We would like to introduce you to two projects supported by the programme, which illustrate how diverse and internationally connected the German research landscape is.
- Algorithms to improve HIV therapy
More than 36 million people worldwide are infected by HIV. Treatment has advanced – in some cases substantially – in recent years, but how can it be further improved? Together with colleagues at the Burnet Institute for Medical Research & Public Health and at RMIT University in Melbourne, Professor Dominik Heider from the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science at Philipps-Universität Marburg is searching for answers. Among other things, HIV patients are given drug therapy that prevents viruses from entering the host cells. This means that the virus cannot reproduce there. But which genetic receptors are in fact responsible for this process? Dominik Heider and his Australian colleagues are studying the receptors with the aid of computer-based algorithms. The two working groups are following different approaches – combining these techniques may help significantly improve the predictability of cell or tissue infection by the HI virus and predictions of possible resistance. The PPP makes it possible for two young researchers each year to travel to Australia and discuss and share ideas about the different techniques. Australian funding also allows one postdoc a year to come to Marburg.
- How much political influence do social media have?
There are also many projects in the humanities that are supported by the PPP – in the political sciences, for instance. One is the German-Czech project “Contextualisation of protest”. Together with six colleagues and four other academics at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Dr Katerina Vráblíková from the Department of Political Science at the University of Mannheim has been studying how civic political engagement has changed in recent years in Europe. One of their findings was that the Internet and social media have considerable influence because they offer entirely new opportunities for participation.
What are the objectives of the PPP?
The programme is designed to strengthen academic relations between a German research institution and an institution abroad. Funding is provided to support joint bi-national research projects of a high academic standard. The project funding is intended to cover mobility costs for German participants and in particular to enable young academics involved in the project to spend a period of time conducting research at the partner institution abroad.
Who can apply?
German universities and non-university research institutions are eligible to apply.
Where can further information be found?
All key information at a glance can be found at www.daad.de > Research mobility (only in German)
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has set up bilateral programmes aimed at intensifying academic cooperation with 31 partner countries at present. These Programmes for Project-Related Personal Exchange (PPP) provide funding for academics wishing to pursue joint research projects with partners abroad.www.daad.de > Research mobility (only in German)