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IDK „Receptor Dynamics: Emerging Paradigms for Novel Drugs”: Winter School at the Hebrew University/Rehovot, Israel

Working on a doctoral project in an International Doctoral Programme of the Elite Network of Bavaria also means exposure to the international scientific community and opportunities for exchange with colleagues from different countries and research institutions.

View of the Dome of the Rock and parts of the Western Wall in Jerusalem

German and Israeli doctoral students, postdocs and scientists active in the IDK Winter School on the park-like campus of the Hebrew University in Rehovot

IDK doctoral students attending the conference on membrane proteins organized by the Israeli Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Members of the IDK “Receptor Dynamics” and Israeli scientists discussing receptor biology during the poster session.

It was in this spirit that doctoral students and PIs of the International Doctoral Programme “Receptor Dynamics Emerging Paradigms for Novel Drugs” decided to organize the programme’s 2015 Winter School at the Hebrew University in Rehovot, close to Tel Aviv and just across the street from the highly renowned Weizmann Institute. It was about getting into contact with local Israeli and international scientists working in the same field, learning more about Israeli university life and also experiencing some sides of the Israeli culture and – inevitably - the country’s ongoing political tensions. The doctoral students report.

On 11 November, we flew from Frankfurt to Israel. Fortunately, all of us managed to get there although we had to face Lufthansa strike actions and rebook flights on the night before departure. On the first day in Israel, the doctoral students attended a conference of the Israeli Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Bar-Ilan University dealing with “Membrane Proteins: Molecular Biology at the Cellular Interface”. Professor Peter Gmeiner, a PI on our programme, had been invited to this meeting as keynote speaker. It was through his initial efforts that the Winter School in Israel became possible. He had established contact with Professor Masha Niv, one of the organizers of the Israeli meeting and our host at the Hebrew University.

The first day of our IDK Winter School was on 12 November. Talks were given by Israeli and German speakers on modern techniques used in the receptor field such as single-molecule microscopy and fluorescence imaging but we also gained new insight from the viewpoint of synthetic chemistry.
Saturday being Shabbat in Israel with public and university life coming almost to a complete stand-still, we had the great opportunity to visit Jerusalem. We went from Rehovot to Jerusalem by bus and, upon arriving there, started from a viewpoint with great views of the whole city. Then we took a walk through the old part of the city, the Jewish, Arabic as well as Armenian quarters. We also saw the Western (Wailing) Wall and important religious places for Christianity. Our guide not only explained history, but also gave us interesting insight into daily life in Jerusalem as it is today.

On Sunday, we continued with the Winter School with talks and a poster session for the IDK and Israeli doctoral students. We had the chance to present our own ongoing research and discuss it with the Israeli partners and our fellow PhD students as well as learn more about the projects of the other participants. After the official part of the Winter School a scientist from the Weizmann Institute of Science offered us a guided tour across the campus. One of the highlights was the Center for Structural Proteomics where scientists showed us how proteins are crystallized for 3-D structural analysis.

The Winter School in Rehovot was a great experience for the entire group. All of us were glad about and grateful for the scientific discussions, the get-together with international scientists, the very kind hospitality of our Israeli hosts and, last but not least, the deep impressions of another country and a different culture we took home with us."

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