Work Plan

The heart of this program is to train PhD students at the highest possible level in structural biology of MPs. A strong emphasis, and originality of this network is to reinforce multidisciplinary approaches, and the combination of at least two of the major structural methods described above. Other crucial aspects involve training in overexpression, purification, biochemical handling, functional assay, and biophysical characterisation.

This will be achieved from several actions

Joint PhD: The students will be recruited on collaborative projects implying at least 2 groups from the network. Whenever possible, dual registration and dual diploma from the two Universities involved will be encouraged. These research projects will benefit from the expertise already acquired on various MPs using one methodology in the group of the primary investigator, and will extend the functional understanding of these proteins via collaborations with other partners, at least one, and more whenever beneficial. This will allow both a high level training of PhD students and the opportunity for new collaborations. As examples of synergies between the various methodologies and common projects, one may cite: using microcrystals already obtained in X-ray labs for solid state NMR studies, performing AFM and thermodynamical studies on MPs whose structure was newly determined, coupling numerical simulations with experimental observations particularly for the understanding of functionally relevant dynamic phenomena, extending 2D crystals into 3D crystals suitable for X-rays crystallography etc... Due to the limited space of this first proposal, the complete list of collaborative PhD projects can not be given here, but will be given in the second stage application.

Student selection will be made under the supervision of the scientific council. A web site announcing the various opportunities will be developed as soon as the program has been accepted. Graduates applying for a PhD will have to put forward excellent scientific projects and demonstrate their quality and motivation for advanced research training. The regulations of this ITN program will be carefully followed, in particular experience, transnational mobility, quality of the applicants and transparency of the selection procedure. Genders issues will be regarded carefully towards an optimum equilibrium between males and females. Students from Eastern European countries will be given specific attention and opportunities. In particular, this network has personal contacts with professors in charge of Master degrees in Poland (Dr Filipek), Romania (P. Demange), Russia (Dr Gordeliy, Prof Spirin), Germany (Pr Müller). We will offer excellent candidates from these countries scientifically outstanding and highly sophisticated SBMP research projects. All the University groups are deeply involved in teaching and have responsibilities establishing international Master degree programmes. The promotion of this network will enhance transnational mobility while recruiting students whose high level is validated by personal contacts. This network will provide them excellent possibilities to become the next generation structural biologists.

Experienced researchers: The primary objective of this network is to train and to educate PhD students. However, it also requires to recruit a limited number of experienced researchers within their first five years of carrier (one year per group; this will represent less than one fourth of the number of PhD students man-months). The objective is to reinforce collaborations and initiate new collaborations between the network partners by sending students from one laboratory to another immediately after their PhD. These students will have thus the opportunity to apply their expertise on MPs and explore new ways of assessing its structure-function relationship. Being perfectly operational on their MP, one year should be sufficient to explore new routes, and if promising, to apply for other sources of funding in order to finance a longer post doc. Experienced researchers' training thus aims making them more independent and providing them with the skills to become team leaders in close future.

Visiting scientists: To complement the network's capacity to transfer new knowledge and strengthen supervision, a limited number of visiting scientists (25 months altogether) originating from both the public and the private sector will be recruited to take part in the training research programme. These visiting scientists will be outstanding in international training and collaborative research. Visiting scientists will contribute to the international expertise of the network, participate and reinforce training courses, and provide contacts to PhD students with other international laboratories by helping them to prepare their future carrier and open their mind. The presence of visiting scientists from several industrial partners will allow for direct exchange with the PhD students, and will transfer the newest technological developments to characterize MPs and the pertinent medical and pharmaceutical questions on MPs. This will significantly support future engagement of students in the private sector.