15th Anniversary / International Alumni Day 2015

The MSc/PhD programs and International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) for Molecular Biology and Neurosciences were launched in the year 2000 as integrated MSc/PhD programs and as a joint venture between the University of Göttingen with its Faculties for Biology (leading faculty), Medicine, Chemistry, and Physics, three local Max Planck Institutes (Biophysical Chemistry, Experimental Medicine, Dynamics and Self-Organization), and the German Primate Center (Leibniz Institute of Primate Research).

At the time of their implementation, the concept of the two graduate programs encompassed a radical shift away from the conventional curricula in Germany towards intensive research-oriented course programs in English, structured PhD education with thesis advisory committees, training in scientific and transferrable skills, and career services. Furthermore, it constituted the first formal collaboration between Max Planck Institutes and a German university with full faculty rights granted to all university and non-university faculty members who jointly offered a novel MSc/PhD degree program.

Every year the two programs receive more than 800 applications from all over the world for the 20 slots available per program. Effective screening methods for selecting the best students were established. As of December 2014, 380 students have graduated from the programs with a doctoral or a Master's degree. Together with the 170 PhD and MSc students currently enrolled, they form an international network of talented and motivated young scientists. We are happy to still be in touch with most of our alumni.

In the past years, the two programs developed into role models that have profoundly changed the local training and research landscape in a manner that was originally not considered possible. They were instrumental in driving a complete change of doctoral education at the University of Göttingen and were crucial for the establishment of the Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB) which adopted many of the successful concepts of the IMPRS for a larger group of students (GGNB presently includes 12 doctoral programs, 450 doctoral students, and 180 faculty members). The two IMPRS have also been instrumental in promoting research collaborations between university and Max Planck scientists, reflected in numerous collaborative research projects. Finally, the two programs had a major impact and model character for graduate education at the national level.

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