Support of Young Researchers in Computational Neuroscience
The new discipline of computational neuroscience investigates the questions of how our brain works. Since 2004, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports this new research field in the neurosciences with the funding initiative 'National Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience'. The National Bernstein Network links the theoretical and experimental neurosciences and investigates the neuronal basis of the capacities of the brain. This research will allow a better understanding of brain functions and will thereby contribute to promoting applications in the areas of information technologies, health and education.
Training excellent young scientists is of fundamental importance for the establishment of a new research field. Besides high-class scientific projects, the excellent education of young scientists and scholars is a central goal of the National Bernstein Network, which is named after the German Physiologist Julius Bernstein (1839-1917). Within the National Bernstein Network, the BMBF has supported four Bernstein Centers for Computational Neuroscience with over 85 million euros since 2004. The centers in Berlin, Freiburg, Göttingen, Heidelberg/Mannheim, Munich and Tübingen form the core of the young field of computational neuroscience in Germany. The Bernstein Centers support the training of young scientists through the establishment of dedicated training programs in the graduate phase (e.g. Master's and PhD programs), through junior research groups within the Centers and through the organization of international advanced courses such as world-renowned Summer School 'Advanced Course in Computational Neuroscience'.
In the beginning of 2007, the National Bernstein Network for Computational Neuroscience was extended through the Bernstein Collaborations and Bernstein Groups. In the Bernstein Groups, junior scientists are supported in local structures, thereby contributing to the promotion of the research field. The Bernstein Focus: Neurotechnology integrates mechanisms of technology transfer and coordinated measures for the qualification of young scientist. A further Bernstein Focus was established in 2009 for the early connection of research findings on fundamental neuronal mechanisms of learning with technological application.
Besides the above mentioned measures, a dedicated funding measure for the promotion of young scientists within the Computational Neuroscience was established by the BMBF in 2006: The 'National Bernstein Network for Computational Neuroscience - Bernstein Award'.
National Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience - Bernstein Award
For the sustainable establishment and strengthening of computational neuroscience in Germany, it is of essential importance to attract excellent young scientists and scholars both from within and outside of Germany. Besides high-class scientific projects, an excellent education of young scientists and scholars is a central objective of the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience. The Bernstein Centers substantially contribute to this aim through their activities at the level of study programs. Beyond that, a crucial need exists in the recruitment and promotion of young researchers that can extend their research profile and develop scientific independence by building up and directing their own research groups. To this end, the BMBF since 2006 annually awards the highly renumerated and internationally advertised Bernstein Award to excellent young researchers with outstanding research ideas in the field of Computational Neuroscience. With the award's funding of 1.25 million Euros they can establish their own research group at a German research institution.