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Graduate College NanoCell

Doktorandenkolleg Doktoratskolleg Graduiertenkolleg

Nano-Analytics of Cellular Systems

From molecular dynamics, recognition and organization to membrane transport and motility

A highly interdisciplinary graduate college funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), titled Nano-Analytics of Cellular Systems (NanoCell), has the major goal to train next generation multidisciplinary graduates for frontier research in life- and cellular nano-science. Its scientific aim is to span the gap between the processes of molecular recognition and structural rearrangements on the one side, and membrane transport and cell motility on the other.

The educational and research program integrates a broad basis of scientific and technological fields related to biophysics, cell biology, nanotechnology, applied physics, theoretical physics, bioorganic and inorganic chemistry, structural and molecular biology, mathematical modelling, and scientific computing. Participating institutions are: Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU), Johann Radon Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics (RICAM), Institute of Science and Technology (IST), and Vienna University of Technology (TUW). Selected PhD students will be employed for at least 3 years with a contract that includes social benefits. They will be encouraged to spend one semester abroad joining other collaborating laboratories. All selection procedures, training activities, and communication will be in English.

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The students entered the program with diverse academic backgrounds, as their specific Master’s degree was earned in various disciplines of natural science and engineering. In order to complement this specific background, core lectures, lecture courses, and practical courses were offered in the following topical fields: (i) MOLECULAR & CELL BIOLOGY, (ii) IMAGING & SPECTROSCOPY, and (iii) STRUCTURAL & FUNCIONAL ANALYSIS AND MODELING.

The following table gives a survey on the total minimum credit points to be achieved by the students during their PhD thesis in the different categories.

Core lecture courses


Lecture courses


Practical courses


Laboratory rotations


Journal club


Work in progress seminar


Soft skills


Conferences and retreat




Core lecture courses, lecture courses, laboratory courses are tailored for each student individually, dependent on the student’s education, experience, and topics of the thesis. Below possible constellations for a biologist and a physicist are given.


Core Lecture

Lecture Course

Laboratory Course

Biological interaction analysis

Membrane channels and transporters

Patch clamp
Practical course in structural biology


Core lecture

Lecture course

Laboratory course

Molecular biology of the cell
Biological interaction analysis

Optical microscopy on biomolecules

LRET microscopy
Quantitative methods of measuring cell adhesion

application/pdfCurriculum (51KB)

Monthly Meeting

Monthly meetings were alternating organized by the PIs and held 4 times per semester, 3 of them in Linz and 1 in Vienna. They consisted of a journal club, where the students discussed recent scientific articles selected by a panel lead by the student of the organizing PI. Articles were chosen in fields of potential interests to all students of the doctorate college and attendance was mandatory. The student of the organizing PI chaired the discussion. Journal clubs were held in the morning followed by a social lunch meeting to enhance team formation and communication. Thereafter an external speaker invited by the student of the organizing PI presented a lecture. In the succeeding work in progress seminar 3-4 students presented their research and critically discussed it with their colleagues and the PIs. Each student was challenged one time per semester for the progress report.

Annual Conferences

The guidelines of the program included participation in the annual “Linz Winter Workshop” at the first February weekend and an annual summer school (2 credit points per year), the latter of which was held in a lake resort 1 driving hour from Linz mid of June. The annual Linz Winter Workshop is held since 1999 and has in the meantime developed to a conference with 150 – 200 attendees. Aim of this workshop is to provide a common platform for industry and academia It focusses on biological single-molecule research and nanoscience, including force and optical microscopy/spectroscopy techniques, with various special sessions in each year. All DK students presented posters in the general session and, in 2017, two of them were selected for short oral talks.

Linz Winter Workshop

Preceeding to the conference, young scientists and newcomers learn about advanced atomic force microscopy techniques and fluorescence microscopy methods in the Linz Winter School with introductory lectures, demo session and hands-on experiments. In this school the DK students participated in their first year.

Linz Winter School

The summer school was organized as a more intimate event. About 10 renowned international scientists presented their research and, and the same time, served in the advisory board. All DK students presented short talks and were exposed to the advisory board in an extended poster session. This ensured that the DK students had access to a wide input into their research. The DK students, the advisory board, and the DK faculty met for 3 days and there was time for all board meetings (Student, Faculty and General Assembly) and an excursion.

DK Nanocell Summer School


application/pdfAlumni (3KB)