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The IMPRS on "The molecular basis of plant development and environmental interactions" started in September 2001 and is organized by the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research together with its partners from the Institute of Botany and the Institute of Biochemistry (University of Cologne). In addition to other IMPRS’, the school at MPIZ tries to break new ground by cooperating with three international partner institutions, which provide additional expertise in the field of molecular plant biology. The list of cooperating partners is completed by the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (Poznan, Poland), the Institute for Plant Sciences (Gif sur Yvette, France) and the Biological Research Centre (Szeged, Hungary). The addition of international partners to the IMPRS therefore provides a link to existing European networks of scientific cooperation and bridges the cultural gap between existing and future member nations of the European Union. The constellation of participating institutions provides excellent training conditions and expertise in plant genetics, structural biology/biochemistry and cell biology. The program offers an interdisciplinary education for highly motivated students. Individual projects will e.g. include: structural and functional aspects of plant enzymes and regulatory proteins, intra- and intercellular signalling, exogenous signals for cell division and differentiation, determinants of plant-microbe development, molecular genetics of plant evolution, symbiotic and pathogenic plant/microbe interactions, resistance/tolerance to abiotic stress factors.
An essential characteristic of the IMPRS is, that students from all countries can apply, and that the entire program including all the lectures and training courses will be taught in English. Therefore a high proficiency in English as a second language is required to enrol in the program. In this first phase the IMPRS is a true Ph.D. program. Students who want to apply must have a Masters degree in order to be admitted by the enrolling University of Cologne.
The scope of the IMPRS Molecular Plant Development is that students finish their doctoral degree within 3 years. This is achieved by replacing the classical semester structure commonly in place at German Universities by an intense and particularly oriented training program. The program includes lectures, seminar series and laboratory courses. At the end of the program a written thesis and a successful thesis defence (“Disputation”) qualify for a Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) degree. However, IMPRS students have the choice to receive their doctoral degree also from a university of their home country.