The Max Planck Institute for Medical Research is the initiator and speaker of the new Max Planck School MATTER to LIFE. The Max Planck Schools are a new, joint initiative of the Max Planck Society, German universities and non-university research organizations. As national networks of Master/PhD education, the Max Planck Schools complement the highly successful regional cooperation formats, such as the Graduate Schools of the Excellence Initiative of the federal and state governments or the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). Three pilot schools were identified in September 2017 and will initially be financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Max Planck Society for a period of five years.
The Max Planck School MATTER to LIFE aims to educate a new generation of scientists who will one day find answers to questions like “What exactly is life?”, “How can life be quantitatively described?” and “How do you best build artificial life?” This will be achieved through intense mentoring by an exceptional group of scientists and scholars, and by access to the most advanced instruments for reverse engineering of living systems in Germany; students will learn how to operate these, how to interpret the data, and how to extract the information necessary for making a blueprint of life. Hence, the curriculum has been developed to overcome the traditional borders, which have grown historically between fields. It addresses the roots of life in chemistry and physics, which form the basis for understanding life processes and provide the means to engineer life-related processes. Our curriculum for educating young scientists in the field of MATTER to LIFE will bring together elements from synthesis, structural studies, physical-chemical and biological studies: all fields that were traditionally regarded as distinct disciplines. The curriculum will emphasize – and enable a convergent understanding of – common physical principles, methods, and experimental techniques, thereby allowing students to overcome disciplinary language barriers.