Karte von Europa

Team project aims to find talents abroad

With its "Back to the roots" Lab, the Max Delbrück Center aims to enable young international researchers to become ambassadors for Research in Germany in their home countries. It is one of the winners of the DFG Community Prize.

The "Back to the roots" Lab, a joint initiative of several departments at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (Max Delbrück Center), is one of the winners of the Community Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG). This competition aims to increase international visibility of German universities and research institutes and fostering of the networking within the research marketing community. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the prize from special funds of the "Research in Germany" initiative with 20,000 euros for each winning idea. An award ceremony for the winning projects was held on September 21, 2022 during the forum "Research in Germany".

Ambassadors for the Max Delbrück Center

This award is a true example of the Max Delbrück Center's team spirit.
Oksana Seumenicht
Dr. Oksana Seumenicht Research Funding Department

Scientists from over 60 countries carry out their research at the Max Delbrück Center locations in Berlin Mitte or Berlin Buch. More than half of the PhDs and postdocs originally come from abroad. The MDC “Back to the Roots”-Lab motivated and enabled 19 of these MDC scientists and science managers to reach out to talented early-career researchers in countries of their origin such as in Europe, in Middle and South America, in Africa and in India. By sharing their first-hand experience of successfully studying and/or carrying out research in Germany these MDC-ambassadors provided real-life insights, also in their native languages, into diverse range of careers in science in Germany. Thus, they act as role-models and inspire talented young researchers, students and doctoral candidates to consider Germany as a desirable research location.

The formats range from a blog to a course on scientific microscopy methods to mentoring - digitally or on-site. In doing so, they can use their international contacts from alumni networks, PhD programs or joint research projects and make use of the local networking opportunities offered by the Helmholtz offices in Moscow, Israel and Beijing or other partner institutions, e.g. from the EU-LIFE Alliance. A conference is also planned to wrap the project up.

"This award is a true example of the team spirit at the Max Delbrück Center," says the project lead Dr. Oksana Seumenicht from the Research Funding Department. The “Back to the roots”-Lab concept was developed together with her colleagues, in close cooperation with Dr. Jean-Yves Tano from the Postdoc Office and Dr. Luiza Bengtsson from the Communications Department. The Max Delbrück Center assists the participants in their preparation and implementation activities, complemented with in-house training - for example on science communication and funding opportunities for international collaborations and academic mobility. 

"Research in Germany"

The Community Prize is part of the "Research in Germany" initiative. It presents Germany as a location for research and innovation worldwide and creates a forum for international exchange and cooperation. The BMBF initiated "Research in Germany" in 2006 and is providing funding for the current project phase. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the DFG, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the DLR Project Management Agency are jointly implementing the initiative.

Text: Christina Anders


Further information

DFG press release (german only)