Structural Biology

Structure is function – Revealing the hidden machinery of a cell

Doctoral degree programme, full-time study mode, Czech, 4 years 
Doctoral degree programme, combined form, Czech, 4 years 
Doctoral degree programme, full-time study mode, English, 4 years 
Doctoral degree programme, combined form, English, 4 years 
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Structural Biology is a modern interdisciplinary and significantly methodologically focused study programme offering a possibility to study the structure and function of biologically active macromolecules – proteins, nucleic acids and their functional complexes.

It is open for graduates of Master's study programme with knowledge in the fields of biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, physical chemistry, pharmacology and related fields and enables students to develop research skills and socio-managerial competence by arranging their studies and selecting lectures according to their field of interest. Students will acquire the necessary methodological skills and knowledge to study the molecular structure of the essential components of living systems and will gain the socio-managerial competence in Life Sciences.

The goals of structural biology include developing a comprehensive understanding of the molecular shapes and forms embraced by biological macromolecules and extending this knowledge to understand how different molecular architectures are used to perform the chemical reactions that are central to life.

Central tools used in this research include X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), other spectroscopies and biophysical methods, protein expression, biophysical and bioorganic chemistry, computer science and bioengineering.

The programme brings together human and material resources of Masaryk University and Mendel University.

Experts of the research programme Structural Biology at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) transmit to students their unique experience in major areas of the field (NMR, cryo-EM, Glycobiochemistry, bioinformatics, computational chemistry, structure of proteins and nucleic acids).

The introductory part of the study is focused on deepening theoretical and practical knowledge. In parallel, each student will review the literature on the topic of their doctoral thesis. The essence of students' activity is focused on their own scientific projects. Students are taught to work independently and encouraged to process experimental data in methodologically relevant manners. An integral part of the study is a comprehensive interpretation of the obtained data and subsequent presentation of novel results by various means (presentation before the scientific community at professional forums, preparation of a poster and a scientific article).

Owing to an exceptionally high quality of the research infrastructure, the students of Structural Biology can apply a wide range of methods with different spatial and time-related resolution (e.g. single crystal X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, etc.), and thus gain experience in the evaluation and interpretation of the measured data. Moreover, the students get insight into functional assays and gain practical experience, often based on in-vitro studies, using a variety of molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics methods. Last but not least, they learn how to use complementary theoretical information obtained by provided computational methods, chemoinformatics, and bioinformatics

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After successfully completing his/her studies the graduate is able to:

  • have profound theoretical knowledge in the field of functional and developmental biology and be aware of all aspects and current trends in the area
  • independently propose and solve important scientific projects from various fields of Life Sciences
  • manage a wide variety of laboratory methods as well as techniques of instrumental analysis of biological samples
  • design a wide scope of creative activities, plan and acquire resources for their implementation
  • propose and utilise advanced research methods using a broad spectrum of methods with different spatial and time-related resolution - single-crystal X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography etc.
  • evaluate and interpret results obtained by various methods of molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics, and derive reasoned conclusions from their findings
  • use modern information technologies to acquire and process scientific information from the world electronic databases, to collect and process data online, to test the validity of models
  • join the international research teams in the field of Life Sciences
  • handle own findings in English language, not only in the form of writing a scientific paper, but also presenting and discussing with scientific capacities worldwide
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Graduates in Structural Biology, a modern field of study, have a wide range of opportunities in various fields of biomedicine and biotechnology-oriented companies, and in case of fundamental research in academic institutions as well. Knowledge of the spatial arrangement of biomolecules, their behaviour and function in living systems is the basis for defining their roles in physiological as well as pathological processes in living organisms, and therefore it is in research focus of many world-famous scientific teams. An innovative approach to teaching along with highly qualified and current curriculum is the best prerequisite for the smooth integration of graduates in major international research teams.

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For successful completion of studies in standard time (eight semesters), students are required to meet the customized study plan and demonstrate sufficiently the progress on a research project in regular annual evaluations.

Students are obliged to obtain a total of 240 ECTS credits, of which 160 credits should be obtained for the repeatedly completed course S5007 PhD Thesis. Students are obliged to complete at least four major subjects related to the research project (completion within the first four semesters in recommended) and at least 3 courses deepening scientific and managerial competencies, called soft skills courses (completion within the first six semesters is recommended). The mandatory S5010 Friday CEITEC "PhD Seminar" has to be completed twice during the studies.

At the beginning of the study, students are obliged to complete the mandatory lecture C777 "Handling Chemical Substances" (holds no credit value). In the following years of the study the obligation to complete this subject depends on the nature of the dissertation - an agreement with the supervisor is required (recorded in the study plan).

Mandatory course S5003 "Specialized Seminar" has to be completed each semester.

Students must complete the course S5008 "Scientific Publication" and S5006 "Lecture for the Scientific Community", proving their ability to present the results of their scientific project at the international scientific forum.

Students demonstrate pedagogical competences in the form of teaching assistance (classrooms, exercises, advising undergrad students, etc.) in a range of up to 150 hours through the entire studies. The course S5009 "Teaching Assistance" has to be completed four times in the course of study.

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On the basis of a government order, a stay or internship abroad with a duration of at least one month (may consist of several shorter stays) in total is a mandatory part of doctoral studies. This obligation may alternatively be fulfilled (after approval of doctoral board) by participation in an international creative project with results published or presented abroad, or direct participation in international cooperation.

In addition to the internship abroad, students can also complete an internship in a frame of CEITEC laboratories or at the other domestic workplace outside the institute (recommended extend - ten working days).

A mandatory part of each internship is an elaboration of the internship report. In the case of an abroad internship, the student enrolls the subject XD110 Placement Abroad, in the case of an internship completed in the Czech Republic, the subject S5011 Internship.

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General conditions are governed by The Masaryk University Study and Examination Regulations (http://is.muni.cz/do/rect/normy/vnitrnipredpisy/eng/).

Each student is obliged to process a doctoral thesis and must be the sole author. The thesis is usually written as a monograph and demonstrates student's ability to conduct independent research at a high academic level and meet international standards. The thesis as well as its defence is performed in English.

Each student is obliged to publish results of their doctoral thesis in an impacted international journal. The student has to be the first author of at least one publication. If this publication has not IF in Q1, there should be two more publications with IF in Q1 or Q2 of which the student should be co-author.

The study is completed with a final state examination and a doctoral thesis defence. The state examination is public and takes place before a commission composed of experts in the field, at least one of the external experts must be in period of work in a foreign institution. Assigning the range of topics for the state examination is based on the decision of the supervisor and the doctoral committee. Topics are focused primarily on the orientation in the field and abilities of argumentation.

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Does not apply to doctoral studies.

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Students
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Field of study specifications

Field of Study: Structural Biology
Abbreviation: STRB
Code: 1515V013
Type: doctoral degree programme
Degree: Ph.D.
Accreditation: to 31/12/2024
Programme: P1532 D-VZP Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Field of study guaranteed by:
Faculty of Science
Field guarantor:
prof. RNDr. Vladimír Sklenář, DrSc.

Additional Information

Detailed information regarding studies at MU and this particular programme is available here

http://ls-phd.ceitec.cz/

https://www.sci.muni.cz/student/phd/doporuceny-pruchod-studiem