Young Researcher Week in Yekaterinburg focuses on health and society

(26.09.12) As part of Russia's Germany Year 2012/2013, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) organised the second Young Researcher Week in Russia under the auspices of the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH Moscow). Between 16 - 21 September 2012, a group of 70 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and professors from both countries came together at Ural Federal University (UrFU) in Yekaterinburg to discuss their research approaches on the topic of Health and Society. The week was organised in cooperation with the Russian Union of Young Scientists (RoSMU) and with the support of the Ural Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences (UoRAN) and the German Consulate General in Yekaterinburg.

DFG-Vizepräsident Prof. Peter Funke auf der Eröffnungsveranstaltung an der Uraler Föderalen Universität (UrFU).

DFG Vice-President Prof. Peter Funke at the opening event at Ural Federal University (UrFU).

The event was opened by Rector Viktor Koksharov in the university's main auditorium. The participants were also welcomed by Aleksandr Kharlov, Minister for International and Foreign Economic Relations for Sverdlovsk Region, Valeri Charushin, chair of the Presidium of UoRAN, and Aleksandr Shcheglov, chair of RoSMU. On the German side there were words of welcome from the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Yekaterinburg, Renate Schimkoreit, and the vice-presidents of the DFG and DAAD, Peter Funke and Max Huber.

The purpose of the week was to encourage wider networking and stronger partnerships among early career researchers. It was an interdisciplinary and forward-looking theme for the conference, incorporating both a global perspective and key current issues in bilateral cooperation between Germany and Russia. Participants were able to discuss various approaches from an interdisciplinary point of view, such as healthcare systems, environmental medicine, medical law, medical ethics, prevention research, sports and nutritional sciences, widespread and infectious diseases, parasitology, biomedicine, nuclear medicine and medical engineering.

Workshops and panel discussions gave the young researchers the opportunity to report on their own work as well as listening to presentations by experienced researchers. The German presenters included Roland Schüle (Freiburg) and Thomas Gutmann (Münster), who reported on their work in the Collaborative Research Centre 'Medical Epigenetics', the Research Unit 'Theoretical Basic Questions of Norm Establishment in Medical Ethics and Biopolitics', and other DFG-funded clusters of excellence and graduate schools at their respective universities. Mario Schelhaas (Münster) presented his research in DFG early career support programmes such as the Emmy Noether group 'Virus Endocytosis' and International Research Training Group 1409. Hans-Jürgen Quabbe (Berlin) and Ursula Plöckinger (Berlin) spoke about the activities of the German-Russian Koch-Mechnikov Forum and diabetes research at the Charité medical school in Berlin. Jochen Ehrich (Hannover) and Inna Lavrik (Magdeburg / Heidelberg) gave a presentation on their partnership with the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Helmholtz-Russia Joint Research Groups. Contributions by early career researchers in Research Training Groups and other DFG programmes, as well as the more informal discussions that took place after the presentations, gave the Russian participants in particular a good insight into the funding options available at German universities.

As well as German funding organisations (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, DAAD, DFG) and research organisations (Max Planck Society, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina), there was also a presentation by the Free University of Berlin. The DFG and the Free University of Berlin also organised workshops on successful applications and international career planning, which proved to be of great interest to participants. The research community in Yekaterinburg was represented through contributions by Aleksandr Sandakov, Ilya Yarmoshenko and Andrey Katanin from the Ural Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Vladimir Ivanov from the Federal University.

The DFG has supported many projects in the Ural region for a number of years, particularly in physics, chemistry and mathematics, but also in zoology, materials sciences, economic sciences, ancient cultures and history. Yekaterinburg's universities and research institutions have particularly strong links with Germany, for example the Institute of History and Archaeology (UoRAN), the Institute of Metal Physics (UoRAN) and the Institute of Physics and Applied Mathematics at the Federal University (UrFU).

With over 1.3 million inhabitants, Yekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia and also the administrative centre of the third most important region in the Russian Federation. Due to its location in the Ural mountains, since the 18th century the city has also played a unique role as a bridge between Europe and Asia. It played host to the first summit of the BRIC states in 2009 and the government consultations and the St. Petersburg Dialogue between Germany and Russia in 2010. Yekaterinburg is a host city for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and is a candidate for Expo 2020.