Koalas, Wombats and Co.: Research in Australia and a new collaborative PhD Program

(photo by E. Mettke)

Don’t you dream about a warm and sunny country to live in these days with heaps of exotic animals and friendly inhabitants?

Right now Australia would be your perfect destination since the summer is full on and a lovely place to spend your time with cute penguins and kangaroos everywhere. Just keep in mind that winter (and with that cold temperatures as well) will approach at some point of the year and once you have seen a kangaroo in the end they just all look the same.

So besides holiday-related reasons to go to Australia, the even stronger force of attraction probably is the sheer waste amount of high quality labs that can be found especially around Melbourne.

Former Cluster member Dr. Katharina Hochheiser did her PhD in the lab of Prof. Christian Kurts in Bonn and puts it that way: ‚In general, working in a lab in Melbourne is probably quite similar to the lab life in Germany. What I like about working here in particular is the high density of really good and creative labs. The close proximity of many great institutes within the city makes it easy to cooperate.‘ Since 2014 she conducts a PostDoc in the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in the lab of Thomas Gebhardt at the University of Melbourne. She also added: No matter what kind of technique you would like to apply to address a certain question, it is most likely that there will be someone in Melbourne who can help you. People are keen to cooperate and that makes working here really fun and productive at the same time.‘

With a DFG PostDoc grant you can get your time in Australia funded for two years and enjoy not only the nice beaches at St. Kildas in the southern part of Melbourne but one of the best immunological communities worldwide.


Katharina and Elisabeth feeding the wombats (by E. Mettke)

If you are not already at the stage of starting your PostDoc career in the field of immunology, another highly recommended opportunity has just recently emerged. To foster collaboration between University Bonn and Melbourne, the DFG granted the PhD Program Bo&MeRang (Bonn and Melbourne International Research and Training Group) in November 2015.

Fifteen PhD students will be funded throughout a period of three years and will be guided by an Australian as well as a German PI who supervise the PhD project. Within this time period a stay abroad of 12 months as a lab exchange is included and the students are enrolled at both universities with the benefit of a double degree, which will be highly advantageous if you want to work on an international basis. All German project leaders are Cluster members and have an Australian counterpart to supervise the PhD students. The spokesman of the newly funded graduate school, Prof. Christian Kurts who worked for a long time at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne himself, collaborates with Dale Godfrey from the Institute for Microbiology and Immunology of the University of Melbourne. They are seeking a PhD student who wants to work on a project to improve cross-presentation and vaccination by harnessing Mucosal-associated invariant T cells. The overall topic of the graduate school – immune defense against infections – is mirrored in the interesting research topic of the future PhD student of Prof. Natalio Garbi (University Bonn) and Ian van Driel (University of Melbourne) as well will work on increasing the immunogenicity of Plasmodium to induce protective cytotoxic T lymphocyte immunity against Malaria.

If you are interested to apply you can do this until 15th January by sending your application to Lucie Delforge . More information you find here.

No matter at what stage of your scientific career you are right now – there is always a perfect funding scheme available to conduct research in a vibrant and highly inspiring immunological environment in Melbourne.

Skyline of Melbourne (photo by E. Mettke)

Author: Elisabeth Mettke