RTG 2338 Targets in Toxicology

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The Research Training Group (RTG) “Targets in Toxicology” (GRK2338) implements a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary qualification program with the long-term aim to educate a new generation of highly qualified toxicologists. Constituting an associated research training group within the Munich Medical Research School (MMRS) at the Medical Faculty of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich), the RTG “Targets in Toxicology” provides a structured Ph.D. programme (Ph.D. in Medical Research) with a modular organization which requires the acquisition of 180 ECTS points in a 3-year curriculum. Medical students may also enrol in the programme for a minimum of 18 months to obtain a medical doctor (Dr. med.).

Acceptance and general procedures

You will find all information on acceptance and general procedures for the academic degree Ph.D. in Medical Research here.
The doctorate procedures are managed by the doctoral examination board (Promotionsausschuss) of the Medical Faculty of LMU Munich. Accordingly, the examination regulations of the Medical Faculty of LMU Munich apply in their currently valid version.

An English version for international Ph.D. students is available here.

Chronologically, the training modules of the RTG GRK 2338 can be roughly divided into three phases:

  • The start-up training phase comprised teaching units with organizational information, the above-mentioned specific training modules in lung toxicology and methodology, lectures on good scientific practice, lab safety, animal handling, research ethics and intercultural communication. This mandatory block lay a common foundation for the young scientists starting from quite diverse university training backgrounds (e.g. chemistry, molecular biology, medicine, toxicology etc.).
  • The second more topic-oriented phase included our international lecture series Toxicology of the Lung, in-depth seminars on advanced methods, discussion-based workshops on recent scientific literature in the field (“journal clubs”), and transferable skills seminars. Collectively, these events helped candidates to tailor their specific research interests, conceptually integrate their projects in the context of current challenges in lung toxicology, and communicate their science.
  • The final phase of the study programme was dedicated to finalizing the thesis work, including drafting and publishing manuscripts, as well as for grant writing and coaching to prepare candidates for a post-Ph.D. career.

Grafik Qualification Program_Berichtsband

Integrated Modules

M1: Lung Basics and Principles of Toxicology (5 ECTS)
The introductory module M1 Lung Basics and Principles of Toxicology is the heart of the initial training phase and split into two blocks, beginning with the lecture series “Fundamentals of Lung Biology and Physiology” followed by a seminar on “Methods in Translational Lung Research”. The second part of Module 1 focusses on toxicology, including the core lecture series “Basic Principles of Toxicology” followed by the accompanying seminar on “Methods in Toxicology”. This seminar coveres fundamental toxicological methods and technologies coming to bear within RTG related scientific projects. To control the success of the two basic educational units of Module 1, Ph.D. candidates have to pass two comprehensive written exams. Module 1 is rated as successfully completed, if students acquire a minimum score of 65 % in both examinations, certifie at least 75 % attendance, and give an oral presentation in each of the two methods seminars.
Lectures within the teaching module “Fundamentals of Lung Biology and Physiology” are given by principal investigators (PIs) of RTG 2338, the Comprehensive Pneumology Center/Institute of Lung Biology and Disease (CPC/ILBD), Helmholtz Munich, and collaborating group leaders and scientists from other institutions. The following “Methods in Translational Lung Research” seminar is organized as a peer-teaching event, and RTG 2338 doctoral candidates themselves present fundamental biomedical methods and technologies in translational lung research, with a focus on those used within the consortium.

M2: Ph.D. research project and dissertation (140 + 10 ECTS)
Doctoral researchers work on their research projects under supervision of the respective RTG PI at the participating institutions (140 ECTS). At the end of the Ph.D. program, graduates will defend their Ph.D. project and written thesis. The thesis defense (10 ECTS) comprises an oral presentation of the research project followed by an oral examination.

A thesis may be submitted in the form of a self-contained book or as a cumulative thesis. Regardless of submission form, one co-authorship on a peer-reviewed publication is prerequisite for thesis submission. The minimal requirements for a cumulative thesis are two peer-reviewed publications where the doctoral student is first author on at least one. In general, a cumulative thesis should be the clear objective of all doctoral students.

M3: International Lecture Series “Toxicology of the Lung” (3 ECTS)
In this module, monthly lectures are given by experienced scientists from national and international universities, research centers and biotechnology companies. The module covers latest trends in toxicology and lung research worldwide. Lecturers are basic scientists, responsible officers of regulatory institutions, clinical researchers, and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry.

M4: Status quo Seminars, Journal Clubs (3 ECTS)
In status quo seminars, the doctoral researchers present and discuss their own research projects by posters and oral presentations.

In journal clubs, doctoral candidates present and dissect research articles within the fields of toxicology and/or lung disease from renowned scientific journals. This approach intends to familiarize students with retrieval, critical assessment, and intelligible presentation of the scientific literature.

M5: Educational Courses of the German Society of Toxicology (GT) (2 x 3 = 6 ECTS)
Participation in two 5-day advanced training courses offered by the German Society of Toxicology (GT) is compulsory for all doctoral candidates. Candidates are free to choose more courses (up to four), if compatible with the progress of their Ph.D. project.

Notably, membership in the RTG (3 years) will be recognized as a qualification period to obtain the title “Specialized Toxicologist DGPT” (“Fachtoxikologe/in”) after 5 years. The latter formal certificate justifies registration as “EUROTOX Registered Toxicologist” on the European level. A prerequisite for the certificate is the successful participation in such 5-day advanced training courses offered by the German Society of Toxicology, in total 13. Module M5 therefore provides a first step towards this career option.

M6: Transferable Skills Training and Career Development Programme (3 ECTS)
Complementary courses are offered by LMU central services, the MMRS, or, for students enrolled at Helmholtz Zentrum München, HELENA. They cover topics such as scientific writing, communication and presentation skills, basics in project management, intellectual property rights, statistics etc.

A practical course on aspects of job applications inside and outside of academia is offered to third-year doctoral researchers. Here, the objective is to present alternative career options and confront doctoral researchers with different interview styles and cultural differences of applications. Doctoral candidates practice interviews and receive feedback about their individual performance.

Furthermore, our programme takes advantage of the fact that the Munich area is characterized by a blossoming biotech scenery, epitomized by the “Munich Biotech Cluster m4” located at the high-tech campus Martinsried. Doctoral students are offered participation in biotechnology lecture programmes organized by the BioM biotech industry networking agency and the Industrielle Biotechnologie Bayern Netwerk GmbH (IBB Network).

M7: Translational Skills (3 ECTS)
In the final phase, the focus of our PhD training program gradually shifts from experimental work to scientific writing (publications, thesis) and career coaching. In order to provide the doctoral candidates with the best possible support in this final phase, workshops on the subject of paper writing and proposal writing will be offered. In addition, courses on funding opportunities and core entrepreneurial skills could be attended via the GraduateCenterLMU or HELENA.

Doctoral candidates participate in clinical visits offered by three different sites within the RTG. First, the department of Clinical Toxicology of the Klinikum rechts der Isar (Technical University of Munich, TUM) will offer clinical visits of hospitalized patients suffering from intoxications and present the poison information center of the department. Second, the Department of Internal Medicine V – Pneumology at the LMU, and Asklepios Fachkliniken München-Gauting will offer visits of hospitalized patients diagnosed with common chronic lung diseases. Finally, clinical toxicology case discussion rounds are offered by the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

The RTG organizes industrial visits to give the doctoral candidates the opportunity to get to know scientific activities of industrial players and broaden their horizon for future career perspectives.

M8: Control of Success (9 ECTS)
Annual GRK 2338 Retreats are a central element of the GRK 2338. Besides oral and poster presentations given by the doctoral researchers about the progress of their research project, keynote speakers are invited to give overview lectures on related topics. The retreats are further used to discuss the progress of individual projects in thesis committee meetings. The annual retreats are organized by the young scientists in close cooperation with the coordinator. Doctoral researchers are encouraged to come up with suggestions for international guests and are involved in the formal invitation of the speakers. Furthermore, doctoral candidates serves as session chairs, thus getting familiar with introducing speakers and leading scientific discussions at a very early career stage. At the retreat, candidates also have the possibility to practice the presentation of their own results as a talk and a poster and receive constructive criticism by their classmates, faculty and invited speakers. They are encouraged to play an active role in the discussions and interact with their mentors. Further the medical doctoral candidates present their results during a poster presentation. All GRK 2338 members have the opportunity to win the best poster or best presentation award.

Finally, doctoral candidates are expected to present and discuss their results at one national and one international scientific conference per three years.

Lectures and workshops on Good Scientific Practice (GSP) are another crucial component of control of success. From the very start of the programme, a mandatory GSP course is offered by the MMRS, which includes various topics relating to principles and safeguarding of GSP as well as procedural rules for dealing with scientific misconduct, plagiarism, and authorships. Data management and advanced statistics are also part of this lecture series. This course not only raises awareness for the importance of professional values and ethical norms like honesty, accuracy, and objectivity, but also impartes the necessary basic knowledge and required competencies to pursue scientific integrity.


Policies and Procedures Manual GRK 2338