(Vienna, 08 October 2021) The doc.funds.connect funding programme initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has enabled five joint PhD programmes to be launched at universities of applied sciences and universities. The total funding volume of the first round of calls for proposals amounts to five million euros; the Austrian Science Fund FWF and the Christian Doppler Society were jointly responsible for selection and evaluation. The PhD programme PAIR (Pre-clinical Ion Beam Therapy Research) at MedUni Vienna, coordinated by Dietmar Georg from MedUni Vienna's Department of Radiation Oncology, and run jointly with the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, was also selected.
About the PAIR project
Ion beam therapy using protons and carbon ions is the most advanced form of radiation-based cancer treatment. Ion beams have both physical and biological advantages over conventional photon beams. Preclinical research on tumour models is essential for optimisation of ion beam therapy. This project serves to expand the radiobiological understanding of ion beams at the molecular, cellular and organic levels. Five interdisciplinary dissertation projects combine physics, biology and medicine and deal, among other things, with proteome and genome analyses, as well as high-resolution imaging. A new PhD programme with interdisciplinary courses will serve to reinforce academic education.
PAIR relies on the unique infrastructure of the MedAustron ion beam therapy facility and on the expertise of the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt in the fields of medical radiation physics, imaging, molecular biology and computer sciences. The establishment of this inter-university network for imaging and biology-oriented cancer research will promote innovation in Austria.
Further expansion of excellent research at universities of applied sciences and universities
Due to the positive response, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is making a further seven million euros available for a second round of calls.
"Cooperative doctorates increase the collaboration between universities and universities of applied sciences in the field of research, while, at the same time, supporting the next generation of scientists. In this respect, I am pleased that a total of 28 high-quality collaborative projects were submitted. Due to this great response, we will launch a second call for proposals at the end of this year and increase the budget to seven million euros," explains Science Minister Heinz Faßmann, commenting on the first round of funding.
"The funded PhD programmes are an impressive demonstration of the importance of synergies between basic research and practice-oriented know-how in finding answers to the pressing questions of the future. This not only benefits the 25 PhD students but all the institutions involved, as well as society as a whole," says uniko President Sabine Seidler.
"Research at universities of applied sciences has shown strong growth in recent years. The funding programme represents a milestone in the intensification of cooperation between different universities. It offers a valuable opportunity to establish sustainable cooperation between universities of applied sciences and universities," emphasises Johann Kastner, Vice-President for Research & Development at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria and Head of the R&D Committee of the Austrian Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (FHK).
"With the doc.funds.connect grants, researchers at UASs and universities can further strengthen their collaboration in application-oriented basic research. The scheme opens up excellent opportunities for PhD students to deepen their knowledge in promising fields of research. In the end, this will benefit the whole of Austria as a research location," says FWF President Christof Gattringer.
"The doc.funds.connect programme is a milestone in the cooperation between universities of applied sciences and universities and serves to strengthen application-oriented basic research. It is very pleasing to see that the new programme has been so well received and that so many high-quality applications have been submitted. I am confident that the funded projects will benefit and strengthen all partner institutions," emphasises CDG President Martin Gerzabek.
FWF funding programme doc.funds.connect
The joint PhD between universities and universities of applied sciences was announced by the Austrian Federal Government in its government programme and is aimed at leveraging further synergies in the domestic research landscape. The programme not only intensifies cooperation between Austrian research institutions but also expands the research competence of universities of applied sciences at a high international level and offers researchers more flexibility and opportunities. The next round of bidding will start at the end of November 2021.
Programme information online at: doc.funds.connect
The Austrian Science Fund FWF
The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria's leading organisation for open-topic funding of basic research, as well as artistic and scientific research. In an international peer review process, the FWF promotes those researchers and ideas that are ground-breaking due to their scientific quality. The knowledge gained strengthens Austria as a research nation and lays a broad foundation for better meeting the societal challenges of tomorrow.