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DIGS-BB in the Pandemic

Taking a quick look at the past year

Screenshot from a video conferencing tool showing 25 participant tiles
Screenshot from the virtual Graduation Day 2020

Last year was an exciting and challenging year, but also one that prompted us to be creative in adapting to the circumstances and continue to provide our excellent service and support. With this in mind, in September 2020, we had our first virtual PhD Interview Week. A four day program full of live sessions to meet the candidates and allow them to interact with participating groups leaders, lab members, PhD student representatives and the PhD office. Despite initial skepticism, the Interview Week was an overwhelming success: 23 new PhD students will join our program for their PhD out of a total of 40 who were invited to participate.

Consequently, the Spring Selection 2021, whose deadline for applications has recently been closed (January 11, 2021), will also take place virtually. We received 312 applications from all over the world and are optimistic to find 32 talented candidates coming to Dresden for their PhD.

Our traditional Graduation Day also took place virtually in 2020. On November 27, the DIGS-BB celebrated its graduates in a virtual ceremony organized jointly with our partner program, the International Max Planck Research School for Cell, Developmental and Systems Biology (IMPRS-CellDevoSys) under the roof of the Dresden International PhD Program (DIPP). At the ceremony the graduates were presented with their PhD certificate and a small gift, which was sent to them beforehand. The spokespersons of both programs, Prof. Gerhard Rödel (DIGS-BB) and Prof. Ivo Sbalzarini (IMPRS-CellDevoSys), gave short welcome addresses. The commencement speech was given by Prof. Jochen Rink, a DIPP alumnus and former group leader at MPI-CBG, who is now director of the Department of Tissue Dynamics and Regeneration at Max Plank for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. In his humorous but profound speech, Prof. Rink managed to inspire our graduates for the next step of their career. He referred to their responsibilities that are linked to the doctoral degree: their contribution to science must be accompanied by continuous questioning the facts, a rigor documentation and a strict compliance of good scientific practice. Furthermore Prof. Rink emphasized the importance of guiding new colleagues into the scientific community. As in previous years, the ceremony was enlivened by music: the vocal guitar duo Choons performed well-known pop songs between the speeches.

In 2020, the DIGS-BB welcomed a number of new faculty members: Dr. Anke Fuchs, who works at the CRTD on the development of advanced cell therapies; Dr. Anna Poetsch, who conducts research on genome specificity of DNA damage and mutagenesis at the BIOTEC; also at the BIOTEC Dr. Anna Taubenberger, whose research focuses on Oncomechanics; Dr. Tatyana Grinenko (MTZ), who studies the mechanisms of somatic mutations in human stem cells during hematological stresses; Dr. Tilman Rachner (UKD), who is attempting to use metabolic and signaling pathways as targets for therapies in breast and prostate cancer. Dr. Natalie Dye, whose research focuses on the biophysics of epithelial growth and tumorigenesis at the Cluster of Excellence Physics of Life (PoL). All these researchers are also associated with the Mildred-Scheel-Early-Career-Center (MSNZ). With Prof. Otger Campás, who works on the physics of embryonic self-organization and morphogenesis, and Prof. Helmut Schießel, expert in the Theoretical Physics of Living Matter, two newly recruited professors of PoL became DIGS-BB members. We also welcomed new colleagues from the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus: Prof. Felix Müller-Planitz carries out research on the biogenesis and cellular function of chromatin; Prof. Mirko Schmidt’s research focuses on the understanding of the brain and the healing of its diseases; and Prof. Hanno Glimm is an expert in translational medical oncology. In total, eleven new fantastic additions will further strengthen our Graduate School!

Last but not least: in 2020 we also started our Twitter account @digsbb – follow us!