The Doctoral Programme
“Immune Modulation in Respiratory Diseases”
Welcome / Summary
RESPImmun – Doctoral Program on Chronic Respiratory Diseases related to Inflammation.
RESPImmun will be embedded in the existing graduate school Molecular Medicine
(MOLMED) which was established by the Medical University of Graz in 2007 and has pioneered doctoral training
in Austria in full congruence with the 10 Salzburg Basic Principles of Doctoral Education
MOLMED provides a framework for structured PhD training with a focus on medically relevant topics
(Link). This initiative
has established a solid infrastructure and an effective modus operandi for the recruitment and collaborative
supervision of PhD students. MOLMED pursues an integrated concept by encompassing basic, translational
and clinical research and bridging the areas of structural biology, physiology, pathobiology and pharmacology
to study cellular processes and disease mechanisms. Ongoing research topics include cancer, cardiovascular and
neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic disorders as well as inflammation and immunology.
RESPImmun has evolved out of MOLMED as a thematically most stringent, top quality research program
that will take PhD education to the highest level. One unique feature of this framework is its translational and
interdisciplinary nature, which allows specialists from diverse fields: pulmonology, pathology, immunology,
pharmacology, translational sciences, molecular biology and bioinformatics to bring their knowledge and concepts
together to find the connection between chronic lung diseases, thus fostering the understanding of underlying
pathologies. Special emphasis is placed on delineating molecular signaling pathways at multiple levels from
single cells, to tissues, entire organs and whole organisms. Multidisciplinary approaches and access to cutting
edge, advanced instrumentation, to human tissue samples / patient data, and system biology
approaches offers unique opportunities to define new therapeutic targets. Thus, RESPImmun spans the
entire research spectrum from molecular pathway mapping, immune biology, and extensive preclinical disease
models, to in vivo molecular imaging, clinical proof-of-concept studies, registries and patient cohorts, as well
as state-of-the-art biobanking. RESPImmun will shape not only the next generation of scientists
dedicated to the lung diseases but will also foster chronic lung diseases (CLD) as a scientific focus at the
Med Uni Graz.
Added value of RESPImmun
RESPImmun is the first PhD program in Austria and potentially in Europe that addresses inflammation in
respiratory diseases in a comprehensive manner using a multidisciplinary approach. RESPImmun truly lives
up to these specifications and offers students detailed insights and research experience in subjects reaching
from molecular mechanisms and cell biology, to pharmacology and clinical management. A particular strength and
unique feature of RESPImmun is the close association of basic science, translational research and
clinical medicine, utilizing molecular biology techniques, cell assays, animal models and clinical samples from
well-defined patient cohorts. The close proximity between clinical research infrastructure, clinical centers,
and basic research laboratories facilitates intellectual and technological exchange between students and
faculty. Close interaction with patient organizations will strengthen the current needs and context of the
To prosper in a competitive scientific system curiosity must be balanced with impact. To this end
students will particularly benefit from developing new partnerships, fresh forms of collaboration and learning
innovative methods for generating and communicating novel scientific insights in major societal issues.
RESPImmun will collaborate with OIS (Link) to foster
the exchange between scientists and the community. OIS will unfold its potential for scientific research
activities such as generating novel research questions, designing and conducting research studies, disseminating
research results and eventually translating new scientific knowledge into innovation.
In the long run, this
privileged intramural position will strongly facilitate the delivery of promising research results to patients.
With respect to academic fields in Europe, RESPImmun is an important initiative not only for the
Med Uni Graz but also for Austria to increase its international visibility in the respiratory
field. The worldwide dissemination of a considerable number of excellent students who graduated from an Austrian
university will increase the interest of the international scientific community but also the pharmaceutical
industry in academic research in general and in the Med Uni Graz in particular as a future
collaboration partner and training institution.