Melbourne & Bonn join forces in $10m research training group

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The University of Melbourne and the University of Bonn in Germany have established an International Doctoral Training Group supported by up to AUD$5 million from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Dubbed 'Bo&MeRanG' – the Bonn & Melbourne Research and Graduate Training Group - the funding will go towards providing for a joint PhD program for up to 30 students across both institutions.

The researchers will focus on deciphering how certain types of immune cells, the so-called myeloid cells, contribute to the body's defense against infections.

The Group was one of four announced earlier this week in Germany, and marks only the second time a doctoral training program at an Australian university is funded under the DFG's international research training groups scheme.

The DFG is Germany's peak research funding body, akin to Australia's own ARC.

The University will match the funding provided by DFG, pushing the total funding towards $10 million.

Speaking after the announcement, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor James McCluskey said the program is a significant step towards broader international research engagement. "The University is absolutely delighted that the DFG has awarded this International Doctoral Training Group, with our strategic plan for research calling for increased research and training engagement with German institutions."

"Bonn is an outstanding institution and a natural partner for the University of Melbourne," concluded Prof McCluskey.

Professor Dick Strugnell, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) agreed. "Through this program, the DFG will help attract a talented group of graduate researchers from across Germany, Australia and the world to undertake a series of exciting projects that are jointly supervised by academics in both Bonn and Melbourne."

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity where many of the Group will be based, said it was a significant opportunity for local researchers. "We are thrilled to be strengthening our academic and research programs with Bonn University and to provide our students the opportunity to have a truly international experience in their PhD training.

"Understanding fundamental immunology is critical to finding new solutions to prevent, treat and cure infectious diseases. We hope the students from this program will become the next generation of global leaders in infection and immunity."

Dr Sammy Bedoui, lead of the Melbourne side of the Bo&MeRanG and co-recipient of the DFG grant said the establishment of the program builds on existing research collaborations between the two universities.

"By extending the long-standing scientific collaboration between Bonn and Melbourne, this program will not only further our research into how the immune system fights infection, but, importantly will also provide rich international experiences to the involved doctoral students."

The funding covers the program for an initial 4.5 years, with the possibility of an extension after this point.

Details about the DFG's International Research Training Group scheme can be found at http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/programmes/coordinated_programmes/research_training_groups/international_rtg/

This article originally appeared in The Melbourne Newsroom on 12 November. View the original article.