The Curriculum

Central to our program is a teaching concept that is based on the three fundamental pillars of graduate training: training-through-research, courses and workshops on technical and transferable skills  and networking in an international community of scientific experts.

The teaching concept of the IMPRS is structured in an introduction training immediately after recruitment consisting of a 3-week training block, followed by a series of three lab rotations. Additional courses for technical and transferable skills training will be available throughout the 3- to 4-year program and will allow students to continuously expand their skill set in an individual and flexible manner. The scientific training need will be determined in consultation with the supervisors and members of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) immediately upon start of the student in the IMPRS-CBP program and updated at the regular TAC meetings.

A broad view of topics are presented to students to encourage them to think beyond the boundaries of their primary research focus. Finally, access to practical experience in teaching, outreach, and communication will be provided to enable students to gain a well-balanced professional profile suitable for a successful career in academia, as well as in industry.

Scientific training (three-week training block and workshops across the year)

Mandatory for all will be an introduction to good scientific practice and ethical research conduct according to the recommendations of the Max Planck Society, the participating University partners and the German Research Foundation.  

The incoming PhD students will receive training in the different research fields covered by the IMPRS-CBP:

-      Basics of structural analysis by cryo-EM

-      Membrane protein biology

-      Basics of in situ structural analysis by cryo-electron tomography

-      Molecular modelling and simulations

-      At the interface of single molecule biophysics and synthetic/chemical biology

-      Basics of yeast genetics

-      Protein complex assembly during animal development

-      Membrane biophysics

-      Optogenetics in neuro- and cell biology

-      Mass spectrometery in structural and cell biology

-      Cellular, molecular, and systemic neurobiology in mouse and zebrafish

-      NMR spectroscopy

-      Introduction to biomolecular simulations

-      Etc.

This includes technical workshops which impart basic knowledge, e.g. scripting languages such as Matlab, Python, statistics, image processing, machine learning and structural model building.

Transferable (“soft”) skills training

Training in transferable skills will be tailored to each individual student as much as possible, such as personal career coaching. A vast selection of workshops is already offered within the Max Planck Society’s continuing education program “Planck Academy” as well as the JGU’s Career Service and the IQbio GRADE program at GU, which is hosted at FIAS and open to all students registered in the IMPRS-CBP program.

In addition, mentorship skills and teaching are essential aspects in the education of doctoral students. Teaching experience can be gained by designing and supervising lab rotations and acting as teaching assistants in practical courses provided by IMPRS-CBP faculty members.


In the course of the IMPRS-CBP program, ample opportunities will be provided to the students for attending lectures and discussions with academics as well as scientists from industry, e.g. within the IMPRS Distinguished Lecture Series and through association of the IMPRS with the GRADE center IQbio. Each student enrolled in the program will directly experience the benefit of transnational cooperation due to the strong international visibility of the scientific leaders involved in the IMPRS-CBP. And, to expose PhD students to the wider researcher community, all students are encouraged to participate and, whenever possible, present at international courses and conferences.

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