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The International Research Training Group (IRTG) in “Molecular Pathogenesis of Male Reproductive Disorders” between Justus-Liebig-University Giessen and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, will facilitate training of the next generation of scientists and clinicians to address key questions in biomedicine relating to men’s health and disease.

The planned collaboration is focused on the following key thematic areas: activin/TGFβ superfamily, fertility/infertility, inflammation and immunity and reproductive hormones/local factor. Nine scientific projects, always covering several of the key themes, were developed during a preparatory workshop at Monash University in 2011. Each project is jointly worked on by Australian-German investigator pairs. Consequently, all students recruited to this programme will be mutually supervised by scientists from Monash University and Justus-Liebig University. PhD studies will require a reciprocal visit to the partner institution of at least 12 months, and as a hallmark of the programme, each student will receive a double-badged PhD awarded by both universities. A pre-final cotutelle agreement between partners has been prepared with input from investigators and senior officials. Importantly, the research training programme builds on strong translational/clinical exposure in Germany and advanced biomolecular, cell biological and transgenic mouse model opportunities with relevance for male reproduction in Australia. Projects enclosed in this application encompass reproductive immunology as a window to health and disease progression in the testis, epididymis and prostate. In addition, the importance and mechanisms of growth factors with a special emphasis on activin/TGFβ superfamily and hormone signalling to male reproductive health underpins several projects. Key project themes and individual projects are highly complementary in design and capitalise on each partner’s research strength and expertise.