Curriculum of doctoral researchers enrolled in the TÜ-BOS GRK “cGMP: From Bedside to Bench”. Doctoral researcher will receive intensive training in state-of-the-art methods and transferable skills (blue box) as well as cGMP research (grey boxes). The workload of the organized classes (blue and grey boxes) is limited to 80-100 hours per year. A central element of the curriculum is a compulsory three-month research stay in the partner lab in Boston (green box). Doctoral students will be encouraged to present their work at international conferences and to perform internships in pharma industry (green box). Each cohort of fellows will organize a Summer School (orange box), which will bring together GRK fellows, PIs, Boston co-mentors, external colleagues from academia and industry, junior researchers enrolled in different local programs, and PhD students from the Boston partner groups. Beige boxes indicate continuous supervision/mentoring and, at the end of the 3rd year, a time window for thesis and manuscript writing. Quality control is achieved by the appointment of thesis advisory committees, which meet annually (red arrowheads).
Research visits to our academic partner institutions in Boston (Tufts University, MGH and Harvard Medical School, Boston University) are firmly embedded in the GRK curriculum. Co-mentors affiliated with these institutions work on cGMP-related topics and provide expertise and methods that complement those of the laboratories in Tübingen. Our doctoral researchers will perform three-month research visits at their respective partner labs in Boston to deepen their knowledge of cGMP-related research. Prof. Dr. Michele Jacob (Tufts University) will coordinate the training program in Boston. Conducting practical research and participating in a structured training program in a top-level international research environment is considered a unique quality measure of the GRK curriculum.
The internship in pharma industry is offered to interested students on a voluntary basis. These internships will usually last for up to three months and can be performed at Bayer AG in Germany or Ironwood Pharmaceuticals in Boston. This opportunity will provide trainees with knowledge of industry approaches to scientific questions and drug development, and it will allow them to expand their personal network.
A key goal of the GRK is to expand the scientific network of each individual fellow and to allow them to further explore known subjects or discover new interests beyond cGMP research. As part of these efforts we will organize international Summer Schools to bring together our doctoral researchers with their supervisors and Boston co-mentors as well as other junior and senior scientists in the cGMP field and other research areas. Summer Schools provide educational opportunities to the students that extend from one day for an internal retreat to three to four days for workshops and talks held by the students and invited speakers. Moreover, the thesis advisory committees will meet with the students during the Summer Schools.
Quality control is achieved by the appointment of Thesis Advisory Committees (TACs), which for every doctoral researcher consist of the primary supervisor, the co-mentor from Boston, and another PI of the GRK. TAC meetings are held annually, the first time approx. 6 months after the starting date of the student. The TAC will critically evaluate the progress of the project and give advice for improvement; it will help in goal-setting and give constructive feedback regarding achieved goals as well as supervisor’s expectations. The overall aim of the TAC meetings is to ensure completion of a high-quality doctoral thesis and publication in the standard funding period of three years.