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In the GGL, doctoral projects are embedded in topic-oriented research. Admission is international, and teaching is carried out in the English language. In association with the GGL the medical faculties offer a PhD – MD/PhD programme.

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Open projects

This is an overview of the six open projects offered for the winter term 2019/2020. You will be able to apply for a total of up to three projects. You may select the projects in our portal by project ID, name of supervisor and title. We will not be able to consider incomplete applications or applications that are not submitted via the online portal.

 

In the GGL, doctoral projects are embedded in topic-oriented research. Admission is international, and teaching is carried out in the English language. In association with the GGL the medical faculties offer a PhD – MD/PhD programme.

FGFR inhibitors as therapeutic approach of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an experimental model for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

SupervisorProjectID
Prof. Dr. Martin Berghoff 1

 

Description

Field of research: Immunology, neuropathology, experimental model for MS
MS is a chronic demyelinating  disease  of  the  central  nervous  system  affecting  2  million
people    worldwide.    The  underlying  pathology  includes  destruction  of  oligodendrocytes,
myelin and axons.  To  date,  treatment  includes  disease  modifying  agents  targeting  cells  
of the immune system. There are no drugs available acting through oligodendroglial recovery
and promotion of remyelination.

 

Description of the team
Our  group  is  studying  the  role  of  fibroblast  growth  factors  (FGF)  and  FGF  receptors  in
oligodendroglial recovery/repair in the EAE mouse model. We have recently shown that the
oligodendroglial FGF receptor plays a key role in EAE.  We offer our state-of-the-art facilities
to study cellular and molecular mechanisms of FGFR inhibition in EAE. Furthermore, the PhD
candidate will attend the Giessen Graduate school of Life sciences (GGL). We will help the  
student with the application  of  a  German  academic  exchange  service  (DAAD)  or other
scholarship.

 

Expected skills
Master’s degree in biology, biochemistry, or a related field of life sciences
Interest in animal experiments
Interest in neuropathology, cellular and molecular analyses
Willing to work in an international team
Excellent English communication skills

 

Funding
After selecting a suitable candidate, an application for a DAAD fellowship from the country of origin is planned. Lab space, project and guidance will be supported.

 

Application to the PhD Programme is possible.

This project is offered in the GGL research section 5 - Neurosciences.

Phytoremediation of pesticide contaminated soils amended with remobilising surfactants - Transformation of chlorinated pesticides in plants by fungi

SupervisorProjectID
Prof. Dr. Rolf-Alexander Düring and Prof. Dr. Gerd Hamscher 2

 

Description

Organochlorine pesticide (OCP) contaminated soils in large areas of the former Soviet Union and in southeastern Europe require concepts for their identification and remediation. There is still no in-situ method for mitigating the contamination with these persistent compounds. Studies on phytoremediation (PR) show that OCP uptake into the plant leading to a gradual reduction in soil substance concentrations is possible; adjuvants can increase the efficiency of PR. OCP accumulated in plants can be transformed by distinct fungi (i.e. white rot or brown rot fungi).
The project is to support the establishment of a sustainable phytoremediation method for OCP contaminated farmland, by an enhanced transformation of OCP accumulated in plants.
In greenhouse experiments, the uptake of OCP from contaminated soil into the plant will be optimized under the use of mobilizing agents, such as biodegradable surfactants.
The fate of OCP accumulated in plants under conditions in the fermenter will be extensively studied in laboratory experiments with sophisticated analytical methods (GC-MS and LC-HRMS) with regard to emerging transformation products.

 

Description of the team
The project will take place in an interdisciplinary cooperation between soil science (Prof. Düring) and food chemistry and food biotechnology (Prof. Hamscher, Prof. Zorn). Co-operation with crop sciences and analytical chemistry of the university will complement the research. At the soil science group (Prof. Düring), the fate and effects of pollutants are studied in soils and in other compartments which interact with soil. In international cooperation (Africa: Burkina Faso, Morocco, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria; southeastern Europe: Romania, Albania, Kosovo; Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan), methods for the detection and mitigation are developed and applied with a focus on persistent organic pollutants and parasiticides. The group of Prof. Hamscher develops and optimizes new trace analytical methods especially for many polar residues, contaminants or food ingredients (e.g. HPLC-MS-MS, HPLC combined with biological assays). By combination of HPLC with bioassays toxicological compounds, biologically active molecules and their metabolites are identified. Furthermore, „Non-Target-Screening“ employing high resolution MS techniques as an emerging issue is applied for food matrices to investigate new contaminants or metabolites of pesticides and veterinary drugs.

 

Expected skills
Creative thinking and English writing skills; solid training in agricultural/crop sciences, phytomedicine. Experience in organic analytical chemistry with interest in mass spectrometry. Ability to work in a team is mandatory and communication within the interdisciplinary group is expected.

 

Funding

supervision, lab space and personal funding are available.

This Project will be funded by a DAAD fellowship, only international applicants may apply. Successfull applicants will have access to German language course in spring 2020 and a Graduate School Scholarship of the DAAD, starting approximately in October 2020.

 

This project is offered in the GGL research section 8 - Chemical Design and Analysis of Molecular Systems.

Human testis cancer and spermatogenesis control by immune cells

SupervisorProjectID
PD Dr. Daniela Fietz and Prof. Dr. Hans-Christian Schuppe 3

 

Description

Immune cells play an essential role in development and maintenance of human and mouse testis. So far it is not known, if and how an immune cell-shaped environment contributes to the development of testicular cancer as immune cell infiltrates are common in manifest testicular cancer (seminoma) and precancerous conditions (germ cell neoplasia in situ, GCNIS). The presence of immune cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells, T cells and respective subtypes is hypothesized to shape the testicular environment and support cancer cell development. Experiments will be conducted complementarily in Germany and Australia. At JLU, histological assessment of immune cells in human testis biopsies showing normal and impaired spermatogenesis, GCNIS and seminoma with or without lymphatic infiltrates will be performed to delineate especially T cells and their subsets. Using additional molecular biological techniques, immune cells subsets and soluble factors as chemo- and cytokines will identified. For functional analysis of testicular and tumor infiltrating immune cells/lymphocytes, both flowcytometry and primary cultures of human testis fragments obtained from the Giessen testis cancer biobank program will be employed. At Monash, these results will be complemented with cell culture experiments on human seminoma cells (TCAM-2). Special hypotheses will be addressed in mouse models.


Students in the IRTG are co-supervised by researchers in both universities, get specialized postgraduate training and carry out research in the laboratories at both sites, with the possibility to achieve a Joint Award (min. 12 months abroad).

 

Description of the team

Our team is located at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Urology, the latter enabling a smooth and quick sample exchange and workflow including clinical supervision. We can offer modern lab facilities, equipment and methodological expertise in a wide histological and molecular biological field. Besides working in a clearly defined project with intensive supervision, the student is fostered to bring in own ideas and work also independently within his or her project. By this, the doctoral student can develop in an exciting scientific field of reproductive medicine and is able to establish an own standing in the scientific community.


The Monash-JLU IRTG focuses on male reproductive health and medicine undertaken at basic and translational research centres in both Australia and Germany, capitalizing on the complementary strenghts at the two partner universities. It fosters an intellectural environment building local and international research capacity.

 

Expected skills

You have a high-ranked degree in veterinary medicine, medicine, biology or molecular biology. Your eligibility is not only reflected by your marks, but you demonstrate outstanding interest in scientific issues and show excellent analytical skills. You can document your scientific suitability by your own scientific work and e.g. voluntary internships and lab rotations.  You are familiar with basic histological and molecular techniques. Knowledge of more sophisticated methods (e.g. flow cytometry, cell culture) is of advantage. You are keen on learning about new methodologies. You are a team worker but also able to develop your own ideas independently and find solutions for open questions and challenges. You should be familiar with basics of data analysis, literature research and scientific writing. You have a very good command of English (written and spoken) and agree to spend at least three month up to one year in Australia.


Offering an international training scheme designed to develop and advance future leaders in men's health research, IRTG is looking for highly motivated, committed and persistent candidates showing excellent qualifications. A prerequisite for participation is a degree of top 15 % and a class rank of top 20%. A very good command of English (written and spoken) and of standard software is also mandatory.

 

Funding
supervision, lab space and personal funding are available

 

Application to the PhD Programme is requested.

This project is offered in the GGL research section 6 - Reproduction in Man and Animals.

Development of an open source based analytical system for Citizen Science

SupervisorProjectID
Prof. Dr. Gertrud Morlock 4

 

Description

Why not building a miniaturized all-in-one open source system for the citizen who can analyze own samples, if there is need? A new discipline combining planar chromatography with office peripherals,  called Office Chromatography, was started. Focussing the open planar concept and participating in the worldwide progress of open source print & media technology, office chromatography provides an ideal platform for miniaturized planar chromatography on ultrathin plates. Chromatographic runs are performed within a minute for many samples in parallel, meaning runs-per-sample take few seconds in a user-friendly environment. The existent system has to be expanded in its functionalities in this project. The fast screening of many samples in parallel and further applications have to be developed, also in combination with effect-directed assays.

 

Description of the team
We are a highly motivated team of about 25 scientists (incl. thesis candidates) in the field of food chemistry, chemistry, pharmacy, biotechnology and bioanalytical chemistry and look for two experts with open source engeneering skills to bring forward our ideas in a fruitful interdisciplinary team. 

 

Expected skills
Open source hardware and/or software technologies, electronics, robotics, chemical analysis, bioinformatics

 

Funding
supervision, lab space and personal funding are available

 

This project is offered in the GGL research section 8 - Chemical Design and Analysis of Molecular Systems.

Organocatalysts in porous scaffolds for heterogeneous catalysis in continuous flow

SupervisorProjectID
Prof. Dr. Peter Schreiner and Prof. Dr. Bernd Smarsly 5

 

Description

The catalysis of organic reactions using immobilized organocatalysts in continuous flow is a promising alternative compared to classically applied homogeneous batch catalysis. Main benefits are the replacement of catalyst separation and recycling by a continuous process, which simplifies work-up, and the possible extension to continuous multistep synthesis by adding different reactor columns. The project aims to post-functionalize tailor-made porous SiO2 materials with special oligopeptides, uniquely available in the Schreiner group, and to test their performance as organocatalysts in continuous flow mode. The catalytic performance will be studied and quantified (using, e.g., GC-MC) as a function of parameters such as catalyst loading and porosity. This project finally aims at coupling several such columns, each containing a different organocatalyst, to realize a multistep synthesis in a convenient flow-through mode. 

 

Description of the team
The project will take place in an interdisciplinary cooperation between the organic chemistry group of Prof. Peter R. Schreiner and the physical chemistry group of Prof. Bernd Smarsly. The expertise of the Schreiner group in developing novel concepts in organocatalysis is complemented the know-how of the Smarslys group in the design of porous SiO2 scaffolds being optimized for flow-through applications. The Schreiner group consists of about 30 master and graduate students, postdocs and senior scientists, being renowned for developing and elucidating novel concepts and principles in organic synthesis, with particular focus on organocatalysts as well as the impact of dispersion forces and quantum-chemical tunneling effects on chemical reaction pathways.  The group of Prof. Bernd Smarsly consists of about 20 master and graduate students and has built experience in the synthesis of well-defined mesoporous inorganic materials and their in-depth structural characterization. A major interest of the group is understanding the relationship between the nanoscopic structure of porous materials and physico-chemical properties such as catalysis and electrochemical parameters.  

 

Expected skills
Creative thinking and excellent English oral and writing skills; solid training in inorganic, organic, and analytical chemistry (NMR, IR); interest in development and application of organocatalysis in continuous flow, of organic synthesis and materials chemistry; interest in the characterization of porous materials and development of modified organocatalysts.

 

Funding
Supervision, lab space and personnell funding are available. This Project will be funded by a DAAD fellowship, only international applicants may apply. Successfull applicants will have access to German language course in spring 2019 and a Graduate School Scholarship of the DAAD, starting approximately in October 2019.

 

This project is offered in the GGL research section 8 - Chemical Design and Analysis of Molecular Systems.

Besnoitia besnoiti-induced "Extracellular Traps": analyses on triggering parasite antigens, on the role of oxygen conditions and on the impact of exosomes

SupervisorProjectID
Prof. Dr. Anja Taubert 6

 

Description

Besnoitia besnoiti is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite and the cause of bovine besnoitiosis affecting both, animal welfare and cattle productivity. Currently, besnoitiosis is considered as emerging disease in Europe. However, limited knowledge exists on interactions between B. besnoiti and the host innate immune system. In this respect, we recently demonstrated that tachzoites of B. besnoiti trigger the formation of so-called “Extracellular Traps” in bovine polymorphous mononuclear neutrophils (PMN), resulting in extracellular parasite immobilization and blockage of host cell invasion. In the current project, specific molecular mechanisms related to this innate effector mechanism will be analyzed: i) Identification of parasite-derived surface antigens that may trigger NETosis. We recently showed that chemical removal of carbohydrate substitutes from tachyzoites diminish NET formation. Here, lectin-based and chemical inhibition experiments are planned to unravel parasite-derived molecules that may represent PMN ligands during NETosis; ii) Analysis on the role of oxygen conditions in B. besnoiti-induced NETosis.  In NET research, most in vitro experiments are performed under general lab conditions (21% oxygen) which do not at all reflect the in vivo situation. However, it is well-known that oxygen conditions significantly affect cellular mechanisms, such as metabolic or effector functions. Therefore, the project will analyze the impact of physiological versus non-physiological oxygen conditions with respect to NET formation and NETosis-related metabolic requirements using a hypoxic chamber; iii) Role of exosomes in parasite-induced NETosis. Numerous cells release so-called exosomes, which represent small vesicles that are critically involved in local cell-to-cell communication. This part of the project deals with the question whether parasite-, infected host cell- or PMN-derived exosomes are involved in the induction of NETosis. Therefore, exosomes of the different origins will be isolated and tested for their NET-inducing capacity. In addition, experiments on exosome release blockage will elucidate the importance of these structures in NETosis.  

 

Description of the team
You will be embedded in a very active, international team of parasite- and immunology-interested people and be advised by several PostDocs with a veterinarian or biochemical background.

 

Expected skills
We expect a highly motivated student who is interested in basic immunological research. The student should have an academic background in the field of veterinary medicine, biology or biochemistry.

 

Funding
supervison, lab space available and a position as academic assistant (Akademische Hilfskraft) are available

 

Application to the PhD Programme is requested.

This project is offered in the GGL research section 2 - Infection and Immunity.