On 10 February 2020 at the CEITEC PhD Conference, the scientific community and the general public learned about the scientific directions that doctoral students at CEITEC Masaryk University have taken and the results they achieved over the past three years. Another goal of this student conference was to gain valuable feedback from the Doctoral Board and to make sure that PhD students and their research reflect the challenges that society is facing today.

The CEITEC PhD School is an international, interdisciplinary, and rapidly developing doctoral program based on a strategic partnership of leading universities and research institutes from Brno that are part of the CEITEC consortium. Doctoral students are part of the interdisciplinary scientific community and have access to the latest research infrastructure and education in the English language. More than 60 percent of the PhD students are from abroad. Nine fourth-year PhD students were the main speakers of the conference, and 19 third-year PhD students tested their presentation skills during the poster session.

The opening speech was by Jiri Nantl, Director of CEITEC Masaryk University, who emphasised the exceptional spirit of the event. Then, three supervisors of the PhD students, Mary O'Connell (member of the RNA Society and former ERA Chair of RNA and Immunity), Pavel Plevka (recognised structural virologist and prestigious ERC grant holder), and Karel Riha (plant molecular biologist, Research Group Leader, and Deputy Science Director) gave opening lectures. The guarantor of the entire conference was Professor Vladimir Sklenar, who, along with fellow board members, listened carefully to all speakers, gave valuable feedback to the PhD students, and announced the winners of all categories at the end of the event. “The main purpose of the PhD conference is to present the results of our PhD students' projects in the form of lectures at a public forum. This gives students the opportunity to test their presentation and communication skills, as well as the ability to build collaborations across a wide range of biomedical research disciplines,” Sklenar said.

In the Best Presentation category, the jury was impressed by doctoral student Jiri Sedmik’s (from the Mary O'Connell Research Group) speech and well-told story, in which he presented his PhD project on Novel Disease-Causing Mutations in ADAR2. The young doctoral student is already working on research with scientists from Australia, the United States, Israel, Austria, and England. The most interesting poster prize was awarded to Veronika Rajecka from the Stepanka Vanacova Research Group, who covered the topic of deletion of TRF4 results in accumulation of mRNAs 3'end extended forms in Saccharomyces

The PhD School at CEITEC was founded in 2014 to attract very talented life science students and to turn them into globally competitive scientists. The PhD school was built upon the so-called Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training, issued by the European Union to unify the quality of European doctoral studies. These principles include, for example, excellent science, an attractive institutional environment, interdisciplinary research opportunities, cooperation with industry and potential employers, gaining international experience and contacts, and developing transferable and soft skills.

“We realise that in order to lure the most talented doctoral students to Brno, we must have something to offer them. This means not only greater scholarships, but also a wide range of career development courses, regular lectures delivered by recognised international scientists, access to research infrastructure, and the possibility to work in top scientific teams under conditions that are transparent and fair, which will enable them to further develop their future careers,” said Nikola Kostlanova, Scientific Secretary of the Institute.