Education and Research Opportunities in Evolutionary Medicine
University of Münster, Germany
Master level:Evolutionary medicine can be studied as part of the 2-year Master of Science (MSc) study programmes ‘Biosciences’, ‘Biotechnology’ and ‘Biomedicine’, all within the Faculty of Biology (https://www.uni-muenster.de/Biologie/en/). Within these study programmes, teaching modules and the topic of the Master thesis can be chosen from a large range of offers, such that several 1-month advanced modules, up to two 2-month specialisation modules and the Master thesis (based on a research project of up to 1-year length) can be done on topics in the field of evolutionary medicine. In particular, within these MSc study programmes, the following module offers an introduction to the field of evolutionary medicine:
Advanced Module “Evolutionary Medicine”: The 1-month interdisciplinary block course “Evolutionary Medicine” aims to train MSc students in the application of evolutionary principles to the understanding of health and disease. Topics include, e.g., the evolution of resistance of bacteria, evolution of disease-relevant genes, genome-wide association studies or the evolution of transposable elements. The course comprises both lectures as well as hands-on practical work in the lab.
More info: https://www.uni-muenster.de/Evolution/mgse/teaching/evolutionarymedicine.html
Research Module “Evolutionary Medicine”
The University of Münster offers a wide range of research opportunities for PhD students in the field of Evolutionary Medicine. Research work to obtain a PhD degree (Dr. rer. nat.) from the Faculty of Biology can be done in one of the labs of the Faculty of Biology or the Faculty of Medicine, including the University Hospital Münster (UKM).
The following graduate programmes provide specialised training on topics related to evolutionary medicine:
Research Training Group “Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation in Disease (EvoPAD)”
The Research Training Group Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation and Disease (EvoPAD) is a structured programme for doctoral students funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). EvoPAD unites biological, medical, and philosophical research with the core idea to use the theory of evolution to understand processes leading to adaptation and/or disease. The programme focusses on three core research areas: (A) Evolutionary processes in infectious diseases, (B) Plasticity of genomes and phenotypes and its relevance for health and disease, and (C) Philosophy of evolution and disease.
More info: https://www.uni-muenster.de/EvoPAD/index.html
Münster Graduate School of Evolution
The Münster Graduate School of Evolution (MGSE) is an institutionalized, interdisciplinary association of researchers at the University of Münster, bridging the faculties of geosciences, biology, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. The MGSE provides an interdisciplinary network of excellent scientists working on diverse topics in evolution and a study programme for doctoral students of the different faculties in the general field of evolution. The programme, as well as a specific mentoring system ensure interdisciplinary networking. The doctoral students of the MGSE address a broad range of questions, from the evolution of earth to the evolution of evolutionary theory.
More info: https://www.uni-muenster.de/Evolution/mgse/about/index.html
Graduate training in Evolutionary Medicine – Kiel, Germany
Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MAMBE)
The Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MAMBE) is an international program, taught entirely in English, and it is based on the fruitful collaboration between Kiel University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. Together with further collaborations (with the Leibniz Science Campus EvoLUNG (Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung), and also the Collaborative Research Centre 1182, Origin and Function of Metaorganisms), it specifically combines the areas of evolution and molecular biology – a combination which has emerged as an extremely successful interdisciplinary research field in recent years but has not yet been available in academic education.
The MAMBE curriculum is founded on
the idea that interdisciplinary thinking enhances in-depth understanding of
biological phenomena and also applied medical problems (e.g., Evolutionary Medicine). For example,
the complexity that are characteristic for many molecular processes, including
those underlying human disease, can often only be understood by taking into
account their evolutionary origin. Similarly, the evolution of particular traits,
including those underlying virulence or antibiotic resistance of human
pathogens, may also often depend on the underlying molecular mechanisms.
MAMBE will foster such
interdisciplinary connections. In the first two semesters, students will learn
about the basic mechanisms and processes of molecules and evolution.
Additionally, they will enhance their skill set in scientific communication and
management (e.g., preparation of seminar talks, or writing of grant
applications, etc). During the third semester, the acquired competences will be
applied to real research life in the laboratory and field. The fourth semester
will consist of the Master thesis.
Master of Science in Medical Life Sciences (MedLife)
The Master of Science in Medical
Life Sciences is hosted by the Medical Faculty of Kiel University, coordinated
by the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB). Translational medical
research “from bench to bedside” is one of the fastest growing fields, the
demand for experts is growing more rapidly than can be currently met.
Scientific results gained in cell biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular
biology, biochemistry, and also evolutionary biology need to be translated into
medical applications before they can be utilized for the benefit of people,
e.g. in disease prevention and therapy.
The curriculum has four focus areas:
Evolutionary Medicine, inflammation,
oncology, and longevity. The focus area on evolutionary medicine looks at the
dynamic interrelations between environmental factors and the human genetic
make-up that influence the development of and susceptibility to diseases. Why
do we suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or
obesity? Why are certain genetic variants maintained within populations despite
their disease risk? Why do pathogens evolve drug resistance and can we take
measures against it? Evolutionary medicine
aims to bridge the gap between evolutionary biology and medicine. It focuses
not only on a mechanistic understanding of medical conditions, but also
considers their evolutionary origins to ultimately help improve innovative
research in biomedicine.
International Max-Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology (IMPRS Evolbio)
Max-Planck Insitute for Evolutionary
Biology, Ploen; Kiel University, Kiel; Geomar Helmholtz-Center for Ocean
The International Max-Planck
Research School for Evolutionary Biology (IMPRS Evolbio) is an international
graduate school dedicated to highest level research and training in all areas
of contemporary Evolutionary Biology, including connections to applied fields
such as Evolutionary Medicine. The
graduate school is embedded in the thriving research environment of Northern
Germany. Since 2010, the IMPRS for Evolutionary Biology has been operated by the Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, the Kiel University and the GEOMAR – Helmholtz
Center for Ocean Research.
education is based on individual doctoral research projects and also a training
program. The latter includes mentoring by a thesis advisory committee (TAC) as
well as an individually coordinated curriculum of regular lab and soft
skill courses, workshops or seminars. The training is supplemented by
scientific presentations at our annual IMPRS retreat or by attending
The doctoral thesis and its funding by the IMPRS is designed for three years.
English is the official language within our graduate school, German beginner
courses are offered for foreign students.
Leibniz Science Campus Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung (EvoLUNG)
Borstel, Borstel; Kiel University, Kiel; Max-Planck Insitute for Evolutionary
Science Campus Evolutionary Medicine
of the Lung (EvoLUNG) integrates evolutionary theory with lung research to achieve
a better understanding of chronic lung diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma
and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The campus focuses on three
main research topics, including: (1) the spread and evolution of multi-drug
resistant pathogens of the lung, (2) the evolutionary origin and possible
benefits of disease genes, and (3) the interplay between four key players:
disease susceptibility genes, microbiota, pathogens, and abiotic environmental