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Natural Products: A fascinating group of chemical entities with exciting features

Natural products (NP) have been in the focus of the scientific community in the last decades for effective identification of pharmacologically active compounds. Bacteria, fungi, marine organisms, lichens, and plants have been identified to be sources for effective isolation and identification of NP with very high degree of chemical diversity. In fact, this resulted in many cases in the identification of new lead structures and exciting and innovative applications in pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnological sciences.

Graduate School of Natural Products (GS-NP): Interdisciplinary research and platform for structured dissertation projects

The Graduate School of Natural Products (GS-NP), embedded into the University of Münster, Germany, represents a highly interdisciplinary program among the faculties of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Biology, and Medicine to strengthen cutting-edge research on NP. GS-NP has been developed from a long-standing research tradition at University of Münster for more than five decades and provides a platform for interdisciplinary research involving pharmacists, pharmacognosists, pharmacologists, chemists, biotechnologists, biochemists, microbiologists, virologists, physicians and biologists.

With the aim of structuring interdisciplinary research projects, the GS-NP, which combines more than 20 individual research groups, has been founded in 2021. This structured doctoral program offers interested PhD students a variety of opportunities for scientific research and exchange, extended training and discussions in the field of NP. The program simultaneously pools the expertise of the different research groups and offers diverse interdisciplinary opportunities within the different, well-equipped laboratories, each with different scientific expertise.

GS-NP: Excellent research opportunities and additional curricular components

In addition to promoting scientific output, the mission of the curricular component of the GS-NP doctoral program is to provide both in-depth knowledge of the discipline and the development of interdisciplinary skills.

Aspects investigated in this regard include structural analytical studies of new NP, optimization of the content of pharmacologically active NP in medicinal plants, improved extraction methods, development of innovative biotechnological processes for the efficient production of NP, functional studies to characterize pharmacological properties of NP, structure-activity relationships of active NP, and manifold projects for identification and characterization of molecular targets.

GS-NP: The Dissertation Program

The structured dissertation program (usually 6 semesters) offers applicants the opportunity to work on their dissertations in different topical areas, but always under an interdisciplinary research approach together with other GS-NP research groups. Successfully defended dissertation projects will lead to the degree Dr.rer.nat. (Doctor rerum naturalium), the German equivalent to a Ph.D. in natural sciences.

The project and method spectrum of GS-NP not only comprises classical topics of natural product chemistry, biology and bioassays, but also innovative methods of theoretical chemistry, bioinformatics, biotechnology, synthetic and systems biology, as well as ultrastructural and bioanalytical investigations of cellular and subcellular systems. In addition, business management contents are included in order to foster innovations in the sense of bioeconomy and market studies, but also in the sense of entrepreneurship.

GS-NP is open for passionate young researchers with a clear vision for their dissertation project and their future

Young researchers applying for a doctoral candidate position within GS-NP should check the different research groups involved in the program. If they are interested in specific topics of the respective Principal Investigator (PI), they are asked to submit a project proposal on a scientific topic of their choice, but within the framework of the respective research group. The topic should be within the framework programs chosen by GS-NP, and should be clearly assignable to a PI or PI-consortium. Decisive for the final selection are, in addition to personality and qualifications (previous educational content, publications, experiences, etc.), the ability and motivation to draft independent project ideas within a given framework and to defend them within the application. We also expect a passion and initiative for science and innovation, which will be queried during the selection interviews, together with enjoyment of a new internationally oriented and culturally open environment in Germany.