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Content archived on 2024-06-18

International PhD Program in Developmental and Cellular Decisions

Final Activity Report Summary - INTERDEC (International PhD Program in Developmental and Cellular Decisions)

Organismal development is driven by a range of decisions at the cellular level, tightly regulated in time and space. An in-depth training in both developmental and cellular biology is required to unravel the mechanisms of biological processes and their malfunction in disease. Therefore, the primary objective of this international PhD programme in developmental and cellular decisions (INTERDEC) was to train high quality PhD level researchers from across Europe at the interface of developmental and cellular biology.

A major strength of this programme was the motivated, high calibre participants each of which had a strong commitment to mentoring and supervision. The INTERDEC was a multi-stage programme emphasising a broad knowledge base in developmental and cellular biology and exposure to a range of biological techniques. This programme was comprised of a complementary mixture of theoretical and practical courses coupled with laboratory research. Top-level students were selected from more than 250 applicants from throughout the world. Selected candidates from seven different European countries and two countries outside of Europe received highly structured scientific instructions accompanied by extensive language classes in French and English, data clubs, journal clubs and oral and written presentation courses, in addition to two student retreats and a student-organised mini-symposium.

At the beginning of the programme students performed three six-week laboratory rotations, which exposed them to different research topics, model organisms and techniques. The core of our programme was thesis research in one of the participating laboratories. A thesis advisory committee consisting of internal group leaders, as well as external experts in their field, closely followed each student’s progress throughout the project. This international PhD programme in developmental and cellular decisions succeeded in training European PhDs of high competence and quality, which was a requisite for the European research area.

The success of the programme could be measured by significant research output and our students had, by the time of the project completion, contributed to more than 22 peer-reviewed articles, 5 submitted manuscripts and 11 manuscripts in preparation. The students presented their research at a range of international conferences and meetings with 65 oral and written communications. In addition, these students participated in another 59 conferences and meetings.

Thesis topics included:
1. identification and characterisation of hedgehog pathway components in drosophila melanogaster;
2. study of the early steps of adipogenesis;
3. regulators of wnt signalling during kidney development;
4. the role of autocrine fibronectin in matrix assembly and integrin signalling in endothelial cells;
5. the role of receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and the activation induced processing in the Fas/CD95 multiple signalling pathways;
6. hypoxic signalling: the role of BNIP3 in proliferation and autophagy;
7. regulation of Rac1 in the pathogenic fungi candida albicans;
8. the role of specific protein-lipid interaction in the initial molecular events of Fas/CD95-mediated cell death;
9. left and right asymmetry in drosophila melanogaster; and
10. an interplay between insulin and ecdysone controls growth in drosophila melanogaster.