Regular Activities

Participation in the regular seminar programs of the respective institutions is mandatory for all members of SFB 796. In addition, the training program includes:

Discussion Rounds with Guest Professors
Students of SFB 796 are encouraged to discuss scientific and related topics with guest speakers, either before or after the seminars.

Weekly GRK Seminars
Seminars by/for the graduate students and/or invited speakers take place in the seminar room of the Department of Biology (U1.850) every Monday at 5.00 pm. During the first funding period several seminar series have taken place, ranging from talks given by the PIs of the SFB 796, method lectures (given by external guest and members of the SFB and the graduate school) to chalk talks. The recent seminar is based on talks given by universitiy alumnis to inform the Phd students about their experience in job applications and professional career in business.


Latest Activities

7th Annual Retreat of the Erlangen School of Molecular Communication
July 13/14, 2015

The 7th annual retreat of the Erlangen School of Molecular Communication took place in Schloss Hirschberg. This year, the scientific talks were divided in four subgroups (viruses, bacterial and eucaryotic pathogens, plant pathogens and protein structure and bioinformatics). Each session started with a keynote lecture from invited speakers, who are experts in the interdisciplinary fields of our SFB, followed by short scientific talks of PhD students. Lars Dölken from the University of Würzburg opened our meeting with his presentation in the viruses session and in the afternoon our guest Petra Dersch from Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research presented her research in the next session. The poster session with 16 posters from PhD students completed the scientific program of the first day. In the evening, all participants were invited to get to know each other and to discuss lively the research projects. The second day started with plant pathogens session, which was opened with the talk of our guest Christophe Ritzenthaler from Strasbourg followed by the last talks of PhD students. All the participants of the retreat had the opportunity to vote for the best presentations and posters and subsequently, both, the poster prizes and the presentation prizes, were awarded by Andreas Burkovski. The retreat was once again a nice opportunity to get to know each other -the former and new members of the SFB which will stimulate the collaborations and exchange of ideas in future.


Bascic fluorescence microscopy workshop 2016

The Basics in Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy seminar was a two-day workshop held at the Optical Imaging Centre Erlangen (OICE) which was hosted by Dr. Ralf Palmisano. The workshop was divided into two parts comprising a theoretical and a practical session. The first day of the workshop was based on theory but also contained a short practical interval with detailed instructions on fixation of cells and probe preparation. The theoretical session covered principles of confocal laser scanning microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and basic physical background knowledge concerning confocal laser scanning microscopy and image acquisition parameters. For the second day, the participants were divided into small groups of 3-4 persons. On this day, fixed samples were prepared and visualized at the microscope using Leica CLSM software. The participants also learned how to acquire multi-channel images and to visualize the live cell imaging with Zeiss Spinning Disc.

This workshop is very interesting and beneficial for those who would like to work with confocal laser scanning microscopy and fluorescence microscopy. The workshop helped in gaining an insight into working with the microscopes and a precise idea about the basics involved in microscopy. Therefore, it would be beneficial for those who would like to gain experience in more advanced techniques involved with the microscopy in the future.


Crystallization Workshop 2016

The Crystallization Workshop was held by Yves Muller and his group at the biotechnology laboratory in the ZMPT (Zentrum für Medizinische Physik und Technik) in Erlangen. The three-day course was divided in a theoretical and a practical part.
The following contents were discussed at the seminars:

  • How to grow crystals from protein samples?
  • X-ray methods - from protein crystals to protein structures
  • What are the validation criteria for crystal structure?

In the lab, we could then apply our novel knowledge from the seminars:

  • Setting up crystallization experiments by hand and by robot
  • Mounting protein crystals for X-ray data collection
  • Evaluating crystallization trials
  • Collecting and analyzing X-ray data
  • Investigating the quality of protein structures

We received a complete overview for protein crystallization and further data validation and analysis in this course. It was very interesting to improve the knowledge and handling of the specific computer programs. We also learned how to evaluate protein structure data at first sight.


Company visit to Sanofi, Frankfurt, February 2016

The GRK PhD students' trip to Sanofi, located in the industry park Hoechst next to Frankfurt, started with an introduction by a HR manager. We were briefly introduced into the history of the company from its very beginning as well as its composition today. Next to general information on Sanofi, we were given insights into needs and requirements of entering Sanofi as an employee. A member of the research department gave us advice about making the choice between science and industry, regarding the possibilities and obligations, according to her own experience. Moreover, we were offered a tour to the protein crystallography laboratory, including presentation and explanation of the equipment by the lab manager. We were also experiencing a brief introduction into modelling of small molecules by the aid of 3D simulations. Having checked on one of the company's restaurants, we went on a bus tour discovering the impressive area. Next to its gigantic dimensions with 4 square kilometers and about 10.000 people working for Sanofi, Bayer, Clariant and others we were explained the symbiotic ties between the different companies in the industry park and its overall importance.


Excel 2015

As efficient and time-saving analysis as well as smart representation of scientific data is a basic need for any PhD student, Excel is an efficient and powerful tool. Therefore, another Excel workshop was offered to the members of the SB796 Graduate School in October 2015. During the two days of workshop each chapter was started with an explanation of the application and subsequently the graduate students had the chance to practice the tool themselves. Like this, we were guided through the basic and also some of the more sophisticated functions of Excel. We started with the basic tools of Excel like formatig cells and continued to the use of formulas and functions ranging from basic calculations to more complicated formulas. We also acquainted ourselves with sorting and filtering data in an appropriate way. In the last part of the course we learned  how to graphically present our data to make it easier to analyze and understand. The mixture of theoretical and practical sessions allowed us to refresh and extend our Excel skills in ordert o facilitate our future work in the lab.


Presenting professionally 2015

The Presenting Professionally course given by Andrea Roos from ICOON (International Communication Consultancy) was a two days’ workshop for PhD students, aimed to improve their scientific presentation skills. The first part dealt with the presentation itself concerning the structure of the talk, the layout of the slides and the appropriate vocabulary. For this purpose, a useful handout was provided which contained check lists, vocabulary lists and exercises to apply the new knowledge. In the second part, the participants were trained in their delivery style and body language. Here, every attendant had the possibility to perform the first minutes of his prepared presentation in order to practice how to create an interesting and catching introduction. In the third part, it was explained and demonstrated during role-plays how to manage the question and answer session in a sovereign way. As a last point, a final presentation was held by every participant, in which the learned presenting skills were applied. In summary, this workshop was very helpful and can be recommended to everyone who wants to improve his presenting skills.


Bewerbungstraining/Job application workshop 2015

The two-day workshop headed by Dietmar Weber was divided into the two main topics of job applications: 1) application documents and 2) the job interview.
At first, we talked about where we should look for job advertisements and how to read the advert closely, so that we can tailor the application to the requirements of the job. Afterwards, we learned which documents are required when applying for a job, how to write and structure the CV and cover letter and whether photographs should be included in job applications. Therefore, we additionally discussed some good and bad examples to avoid common mistakes. On the second day, we spoke about the body language, how to prepare for a job interview and how to deal with typical and sometimes difficult questions. At the end, we learned how to introduce ourselves in a job interview. We practiced this by having short job interviews in small groups. Some of the attendees used also the opportunity to check and improve their own application documents with Dietmar Weber. It was a great workshop and we learned nearly everything you need to know to successfully apply for a job.


Bioinformatics 2015

The bioinformatics seminar by Heinrich Sticht was interesting for all phD students who need to work with basic bioinformatics tools. The course was divided into different parts. Each contained a distinct topic. Each session started with a short theoretical part followed up by practical exercises for which a computer was provided for all 20 participants. Starting with basic sequence data analysis, the workshop continued with multiple sequence alignment and secondary databases. The last part focused on protein structures. We used for example a PDB file to create the crystal structure of a protein. After the course the students had a more comprehensive view of bioinformatics tools.


Advanced Confocal Microscopy 2015

The advanced microscopy course was hosted by Dr. Ralf Palmisano at the Optical Imaging Centre Erlangen (OICE). The course itself was divided in one theoretical and one practical session. The theoretical session covered physical background knowledge concerning confocal laser scanning microscopy, as well as important aspects of adjusting the microscope to obtain optimal results when working near the resolution limit.
During the hands-on session the participants now had the opportunity to implement the information given during the theoretical introduction. Using fluorescent microbeads as samples, the microscope was set up to ascertain that the best possible performance was achieved.
The workshop’s target audiences are experienced users of the CLSM, who want to gain further insight into the technical setup and who are willing to learn advanced techniques enabling them to assess and optimize the system’s performance. This will not only be valuable while working with the microscope at the OICE, but also for the work with all confocal microscopes the participants might come across in later years.


Photoshop 2014

The workshop “Adobe Photoshop C5.5” by Volker Hoffmann from the VHS (Volkshochschule der Stadt Erlangen) is designed to teach participants to use the essential tools and techniques of Photoshop. This year two courses were offered, one in english and one in german. The 2-days’ course covered the following content:

  • File formats, color spaces, image resolution, histogram
  • Layers and layer masks, smart objects
  • Create selections
  • Contrast corrections, remove color casts
  • Retouching of images
  • Levels, blending mode basics
  • Sharpening of images and the most important filter modules
  • Easy automation techniques as create “actions”

This workshop provides good computer instruments and plenty of image material for participants to practice, and attendees are able to grasp the essential skills of Photoshop with the patient guide from the tutor. This workshop is with great value in improving the skills of picture processing, and is helpful in preparing presentations and scientific papers.


Statistics 2014

This statistics course provided essential content of statistics and was split in two units.
The first unit covered the following topics:

  • Describing data (types of data, data visualization, descriptive statistics)
  • Statistical inference (sampling theory, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, pitfalls of p-values)
  • Specific statistical tests (ttest: paired unpaired, ANOVA, linear correlation, non-parametric tests, Chi-square test, linear regression, how to choose the right statistical test)

The second unit delegated to SPSS and its use for statistical analysis through hands-on experience. It covered the following topics:

  • Getting started with SPSS files
  • Data entry: manually and from excel
  • Editing and organizing datasets
  • SPSS options and functions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Graphical displays
  • Parametric significance tests
  • Nonparametric significance tests


Scientific Writing 2014

Dr. Deborah Bennett’s seminar on scientific writing again proved to be a thorough introduction to the topic for non-native English speakers. The seminar focused on the differences of spoken and written English, formal grammar and vocabulary, punctuation, tenses, cautious language and structure of an academic research paper, with emphasis on the abstract, introduction and discussion sections. Responding to reviewers’ feedback (and dealing with rejections) was also covered, as well as how to best adapt to a journal’s own writing style. Feedback on worksheets and writing exercises based on the students’ own research projects provided important pointers on improving scientific writing and communication skills. The provided course material will be valuable for years to come.


Empower Yourself: Enhancing (Gender-Related) Communication 2014

The workshop “Empower Yourself: Enhancing (Gender-Related) Communication” by Andrea Roos from the ICCON (International Communication Consultancy) is designed for female junior scientists and focused on how to improve and optimize our individual communication style and make ourselves heard and better understood by (male) work colleagues. In a small group of 8 Phd students, we worked 2 days intensively on different aspects of communication and solving conflicts in a nice mixture of theory, teamwork and role playing. Andrea designed the workshop quite individually and gave us many tips how to act and react in difficult situations, how to communicate things in an assertive way, which role our body language plays and so on. We got a lot impressions and ideas and hope to apply the knowledge in future for having an effective communication.



Recent Activities


Retreats of the Erlangen School of Molecular Communication