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discovered 02_2012

discovered 02.12 COLLABORATIONS WWW.Hzdr.DE International graduate program The HZDR has been participating in the DIGS-BB graduate program for four years. Under the head of Karim Fahmy of the Institute of Resource Ecology one PhD thesis has already been completed, while three others are in progress. One of these is in the field of systems biology. “The topic is radiotoxicity and its influence on the level of an organism“, explains Karim Fahmy. “We are using bacteria and nematodes to investigate how the metabolism reacts to environmentally relevant concentrations of heavy metals and radionuclides.“ One can measure this using a microcalorimeter. If an organism stimulates its metabolism, heat is released. “We are particularly interested here in the relationship to genetics“, says Fahmy. The HZDR researchers are collaborating with the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden on various strains of organisms. In this way, they want to elucidate whether the toxicity can be attenuated through a certain gene. Two other PhD theses are investigating a bacterial membrane protein which is responsible for the export of copper from the cells. “This protein regulates the copper level in cells“, explains Karim Fahmy, “this is very interesting for the role of bacteria in bioleaching“. The process of bioleaching uses bacteria to win copper from ores. The membrane protein helps the microorganisms tolerate remarkable levels of metal, which is why the scientists would like to understand the precise mechanism of the protein. DIGS-BB is regarded among the international graduate programs as a beacon project. “The PhD candidates work under excellent conditions“, says Karim Fahmy, “they receive extensive supervision and are trained comprehensively“. Every junior researcher is assigned three supervisors and conducts research in a number of laboratories. Every year there is also an intensive course of lectures and internships for the PhD candidates to learn about new methods. Almost 90 working groups in Dresden – at the HZDR, the TU Dresden, the Max Planck Institutes and other research Institutes – are offering research opportunities through the graduate school. In the meantime more than 1,000 junior scientists apply each year for this attractive program, which will be funded in the framework of the excellence initiative for another five years. KNOWLEDGE CREATES EXCELLENCE: As of June of this year, the TU Dresden is counted as one of Germany’s eleven university centers of excellence and has had their entire research proposal catalog successfully accepted. HZDR researchers are working on no fewer than three of the four total accepted proposals. Image credit: TUD/Eckold Contact _Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research at HZDR Dr. Artur Erbe _Institute of Resource Ecology at HZDR Dr. Karim Fahmy