The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

12 Feb 2019

Bo&MeRanG Retreat 2019

Bo&MeRanG is a joint PhD training program in immunology between the University of Melbourne and the University of Bonn with the Doherty Institute hosting the majority of students. Recently the program held its second retreat in Lorne, Victoria to allow members of the program from here and Germany, to meet. Here, Bo&MeRang PhD student Markus Fleischmann shares his insights on the meeting.

After convening for the first time in St. Goar, Germany back in 2017, the Bonn & Melbourne Research and Graduate Training Group (Bo&MeRanG) met for their second retreat last week in Lorne, Australia.

Organised by the program co-ordinators University of Melbourne Dr Marie Greyer of the Doherty Institute and University of Bonn’s Lucie Delforge, the conference was attended by 53 principle investigators and 38 research graduate students, including new program participants for the upcoming second phase of the Bo&MeRanG.

After arrival on Sunday afternoon, the local wine and beer tasting was a perfect opportunity for everyone to catch up with their overseas counterparts and enabled many new students to meet their second supervisor in person for the first time.

The official program began with a welcome by the program’s co-directors University of Melbourne Associate Professor Sammy Bedoui, Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute and University of Bonn Professor Christian Kurts.

Both highlighted the attractiveness and opportunities this joint PhD program offers to both students and principal investigators, but also reflected on the great collaboration between both Universities, extending beyond Bo&MeRanG.

One example was the establishment of the Bonn-Melbourne Academy for Excellence in Immunosciences (BM-AXIS) where scientists at all levels of their careers can participate in exchanges between both institutions.

This will strengthen existing collaborations in immunology and offers opportunities to integrate additional clinical and epidemiological immunology-related projects. Like Bo&MeRanG, BM-AXIS hopes to contribute to a bilateral relationship in teaching and research, and further enhance the international positioning of both Universities within medical research. 

Over the next two days the students presented their work in seven different sessions- Immunity to Viruses, Myeloid Cells, T cell Biology, Immunity to Cancer, Immunity to Bacteria, Innate Immunity, and Immunity to Parasites - demonstrating the broad range as well as the quality of research that is conducted within the program throughout the entire field of immunology.

All attendees were impressed by the students´ presentations, especially participants from the initial retreat in St. Goar who pointed out the significant progress made by the students between the two conferences.

There was also an open feedback session about Bo&MeRanG in which both students and principal investigators contributed, with important suggestions for future collaborations.

Importantly, networking activities extended well beyond the daily sessions – this included free time at the beach and social functions in the evening such as the garden BBQ.

The retreat´s final day was reserved for the presentations by the nine new pairs of principal investigators joining Bo&MeRanG in 2019.

Overall, the retreat was a big success, enabling all participants to discuss their research in a fruitful environment, to gather new ideas on their projects and to gain insight into the broad range of research carried out both at the individual universities as well as within this close partnership.

The program has already strengthened collaborative efforts and will undoubtedly lead to further cross-fertilisation.

If that is indeed the case, the Bo&MeRanG will fulfil its purpose of fostering internationalisation of research between Germany and Australia and will further intensify the quality of scientific research and doctoral training already being conducted.

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