Schatz Seminar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matthias Voss   
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:58

On January 28th, the graduate program “Protein Dynamics in Health and Disease” of the Elitenetzwerk Bayern had the honour of hosting Prof. Gottfried Schatz from the Biocenter in Basel, Switzerland. Prof. Schatz has spent over 40 years in academic research. His work as a biochemist was focussed on the biology of mitochondria – the molecular power plants of eukaryotic cells. He contributed to the elucidation of the biogenesis of these astonishing organelles and he co-discovered mitochondrial DNA.  Prof. Schatz’ career was honoured by memberships in various national academies of sciences. Furthermore, Prof. Schatz received the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Silver Medal of Merit and the E.B. Wilson Medal, to name but a few. After his retirement in 2000, Prof. Schatz switched his focus from basic research to science politics and served as President of the Swiss Science and Technology Council. In addition to the impressive list of more than 200 outstanding scientific publications, Prof. Schatz has published numerous newspaper articles and books on the broader implications of science. His most recent masterpiece is entitled “Feuersucher: Die Jagd nach dem Geheimnis der Lebensenergie” which will be released this year.

Prof. Schatz during his lecture at the Gene Center in Großhadern.

In the afternoon Prof. Schatz held an insightful seminar – “What it takes to succeed as a scientist” – at the Gene Centre in Großhadern. In a very entertaining as well as motivating manner he described to the audience, consisting mostly of PhD students and young researchers, how he discovered his passion for science and in particular for mitochondria when he himself was just graduating from university in Graz. Back in those days, Biochemistry and Life Sciences were not the well-established disciplines they are nowadays and likewise it is indeed hard to imagine today that it was quite an effort for him to find a suitable lab for a PhD thesis. He then continued on describing the further development of his own scientific career, his Post-Doctoral time and his first professorship in the United States and finally his return to Europe. Acknowledging that he has been a very successful scientist himself and that he also has had the honour of supervising and teaching numerous gifted and aspiring graduate students as well as Post-Docs, he concluded his seminar with highlighting the essential qualities a scientist should have – passion, patience, and courage (“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.”). However, he also admitted that scientific success never comes without the certain bit of luck. He was very distinct about the fact, that those qualities are essential to sustain motivation while having a hard time to address experimental problems in the lab and while coming up with new ideas and innovations. His seminar was highly appreciated by the audience and triggered a vivid discussion about problems in scientific careers and science politics.


Group foto of ENB program members and Prof. Schatz after lunch at Geisel's Vinothek in Munich.

The members of the ENB graduate program are very grateful of having had the opportunity to spend additional time with Prof. Schatz, and had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to personally discuss the topics of his talk more extensively but also to talk about the science they are doing.

We would like to thank Prof. Schatz for accepting our invitation to Munich and for sharing his enthusiasm and motivation for science with us. We wish him all the best for his career as a book-writer and will keep his advice in mind when pursuing our own scientific careers.

A special Thank You goes to Julia Gallinger, who did a wonderful job in organizing this seminar.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 22:23