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21 Jul 2020

Funding renewed for PhD program in infection and immunity

A $AU5 million grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) has been matched by the University of Melbourne, extending a joint PhD program in infection and immunity research for the next five years.

The Bonn and Melbourne Research and Graduate School is an international research training group (IRTG2168) that brings together immunologists from the two universities.

The IRTG2168 was established in 2016 and was initially awarded $AU10 million by the DFG and the University of Melbourne. Twelve jointly supervised graduate researchers from the first cohort have now completed their PhDs, with the remaining 17 candidates close to completion.

The renewal extends the program until 2025 which means the two universities can continue to provide a platform for research collaboration and innovation in the immunological disciplines. This is particularly important as the program focuses on basic principles of infectious disease that apply to SARS-CoV2 which causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Jim McCluskey welcomed the funding renewal for the joint Bonn and Melbourne PhD program.

“The University of Bonn is an outstanding partner,” Professor McCluskey said. “This flagship program has demonstrated the success of long-term collaboration, not only through joint research training but through our research partnership in Bonn’s ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence. We look forward to the next phase of this collaboration and to further strengthening our joint research with Bonn in other areas too.”

Bonn and Melbourne Research and Graduate School Director and University of Melbourne Professor in Immunology Sammy Bedoui from the Doherty Institute, said the funding renewal will enable additional research projects that further broaden the scope of the overall program.

“Eighteen PhD projects are now available in Bonn and in Melbourne, that are jointly supervised by world-leading experts in the field with complementary expertise and front-line research technologies in innate and adaptive immunity,” Professor Bedoui said. “The 36 doctoral candidates will have access to scientific mentors at both locations, they will be enrolled at both universities and they will spend at least one year at the partner institution.”

Professor Christian Kurts, Co-Director of the IRTG2168 in Bonn said the grant renewal recognises the program’s success and achievements.

“We are extremely happy to be able to continue our successful partnership with Melbourne University and to be acknowledged for our exemplary international cooperation over the past four years. Everyone in the team is incredibly proud of our success.”

Professor Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn, said the cooperation between the institutions is exemplary.

“Our cooperation with the University of Melbourne in training doctoral students is leading by example, even beyond the field of immunology,” Professor Hoch said.

“Together with the University of Melbourne, we are working on establishing joint PhD programs in other disciplines, too. We want to offer our doctoral students the best possible training in an international setting. Due to its excellent research conditions, Melbourne is an ideal partner for this endeavour.”    

The University of Melbourne and Bonn University have renewed a joint PhD program.
The University of Melbourne and Bonn University have renewed a joint PhD program.