The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation – one of the world’s largest and most outstanding associations dedicated to promoting scientific excellence – has been a cooperation partner of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation since 2013. Each year, it finances ten scholarships for postdoctoral students in the fields of life sciences and medicine. In addition to the support provided by the Humboldt Foundation, scholarship holders can also benefit from opportunities offered by Bayer.
Before now, Dr. Titiwat Sungkaworn was not very interested in industrial research. “My main focus was on fundamental research,” reports the scientist from Thailand. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Würzburg, he researches G-protein-coupled receptors in the cell membrane. However, a visit to the research center of Bayer HealthCare in Wuppertal changed his perspective. “I learned a lot about industrial drug research and development,” he reports. Thanks to this experience, he can “well imagine working with pharmacologists from Bayer” once he returns to Thailand and establishes his own working group.
Sungkaworn is one of the first generation of Humboldt Bayer Fellows. The ten scholarship holders each receive EUR 50,000 annually from the Bayer Science & Education Foundation for a period of up to two years. Outstanding young scientists from all over the world can apply for a Humboldt scholarship, which funds a period of research in Germany. The Bayer scholarship is designed specifically for postdocs from the fields of life sciences and medicine. “It’s a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the world of applied research,” says Titiwat Sungkaworn. Each of the ten scholarship holders is paired with an experienced Bayer scientist working in a similar research area. Sungkaworn’s mentor, for example, is Dr. Bernd Kalthof, Head of Screening Technologies at Bayer HealthCare in Wuppertal. The two regularly engage in intensive dialog and have already met on several occasions.
Bayer also invites the young researchers and their mentors to attend events such as the Bayer Science Dialog at the Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau on Lake Constance, to awards ceremonies or the regular Bayer Science Days. “They were all very interesting events and offered excellent opportunities for networking,” says Sungkaworn.
Bayer has also opened up its internal training and development program to the Humboldt Bayer Fellows. Sungkaworn has opted for a two-day course in project management. He is keen to learn how to organize his own research project, keep control of finances and optimize the use of laboratory equipment. And the man from Thailand is certain: “It was the right decision to join the Humboldt Bayer Fellowship. I’ve gained new insights, knowledge and experience from a world-class pharmaceuticals company. That will give me a huge boost for my further career.”
The Bayer Foundations – Committed to Progress since 1897
Bayer foundations have been promoting education, science and social innovation all over the world since 1897. As part of the innovation company Bayer, the foundations see themselves above all as initiators, promoters and partners for progress at the interface between industry, science and the social sector. Their programs are focused on pioneers – their commitment to public welfare, their wealth of ideas in resolving social tasks, and their creativity in the fields of science and medicine. The Bayer Science & Education Foundation, for example, grants scholarships and awards which encourage young talents and top researchers alike to deliver outstanding achievements in their field. The Bayer foundations also support efforts to resolve social issues. For example, the Bayer Cares Foundation focuses on citizens’ projects and resolving issues in the field of social medicine. The objective of the foundations is always to improve human life through innovation and initiatives.