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News from the Research Scholarship holders and the International Junior Research Groups

Of worms and matter: when young scientists meet

At a symposium for the Junior Research Groups of the Elite Network of Bavaria on the campus of the University of Bayreuth on 22th September 2016 young scientists gave fascinating insights into their current focus of research.

The participants of the symposium in Bayreuth

Lukas Nickel (Junior Research Group "Interaction between light and matter") during the presentation

The initiator and host of the event was Dr. Claus Kuhn's Bayreuth-based Junior Research Group The group's focus is on gene regulation through non-coding RNA and it has been funded by the Elite Network of Bavaria since September 2014. The invited Junior Research Groups of Dirk-André Deckert (Interaction between light and matter, LMU Munich), Michael Dorr (Visual Efficient Sensing for the Perception-Action-Loop, TU Munich), and Sebastian Geibel (Mycobacterial secretion systems, Würzburg) completed the quite relaxed group of young scientists. The main part of the symposium conisted of the four presentations, in which the groups were supposed to explain their research focus and objectives by reducing the content to the essentials in a way that an audience without further knowledge in the specific field of research would get the gist. This interdisciplinary approach was certainly a challenge for the members of the participating groups. However, it also provided a look beyond one's own nose.

After a common lunch break the event started with the presentation of Dirk-André Deckert's Team. The central topic of his Junior Research Group is the interaction between light and matter, more precisely electrodynamic fields and charged elementary particles. Apart from gravitation, this interaction governs the biggest part of our daily experiences. Click here for further information about this Junior Research Group.

The second team presenting its state of research as well as its objectives was the one led by Sebastian Geibel. It basically deals with tuberculosis. The project's target is to improve our understanding of the pathogen-host communication in tuberculosis and boost the development of new potential therapeutics against tuberculosis through determining the first three-dimensional structures of these type VII secretion machines by state-of-the-art structural methods such as cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray cristallography, thus permitting the generation of a functional model for the type VII secretion mechanism. These structures will inform rational drug design approaches to specifically block each of these type VII secretion systems. Click here for further information about this Junior Research Group.

Michael Dorr's interdisciplinary Junior Research Group "Visual Efficient Sensing for the Perception-Action Loop" gave the third presentation. The group's topic is the human visual information processing and the development of biologically inspired algorythms for efficient computer vision systems. A special focus is put on the modelling of human eye movements which normally go unnoticed by human beings themselves. In this research field the group seeks to answer essential questions about normal and clinically influenced perception, which in the future is supposed to lead to an improved rehabilitation with neurological diseases such as the Neglect. Click here for further information about this Junior Research Group.

The last presentation was given by the hosting scientists from Bayreuth.  In order to better understand the regeneration of human organs and to contribute to a specific organ regeneration in the future, the group has a closer look at for example at the Regeneration ability of planarian flatworms. These worms are an ideal model system for the human organ development, since they are able to recreate any adult organ from stem cells. The scientists are particularly interested in the role of non-coding RNA during this regeneration process. Furthermore, the group presented its state of research on so-called Enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). eRNAs seem to play an essential role in the development and restructuring processes of our brain. How exactly these eRNAs fulfill this function is yet unknown. Click here for further information on this Junior Research Group.

Apart from the insights into each groups' state of research the symposium underlined the aspect of networking. Not only for Claus Kuhn it was important to make the young scientists get into contact with each other. The Elite Network of Bavaria, too, has a particular interest in building these kinds of connections between their members. At the occasion of a joint dinner, all the participants agreed on the conclusion that this meeting was a real success.

Text: Philipp Aigner with the support of the Junior Research Groups' heads

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