Cell migration is a fundamental process of life. Unicellular organisms such as amoeba have to migrate to reach food and to mate. In multicellular organisms, cell migration of individual cells or coordinated multicellular migration is required for gastrulation, morphogenesis and organogenesis (e.g. angiogenesis). Furthermore, the entire homeostasis of multicellular organisms relies on processes of cell migration including the process of immunosurveillance. Finally, cell migration is a crucial process during inflammation and tissue repair and is an integral mechanism of many pathological processes such as chronic inflammatory diseases and tumor metastasis. Immune and tumor cell migration are therefore two topics of outmost biomedical significance.

With the “Cell migration” PhD program we bring together experts from both the immunology and the tumor cell biology communities to investigate mechanisms involved in the regulation of cell migration and to establish a training program for highly qualified PhD and MD-PhD students in this field. The program combines the research focus and state-of the art equipment of the Theodor Kocher Institute (TKI) at the University of Bern for studying cell migration by means of live cell imaging technologies, the strong focus and international reputation of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Bellinzona on mouse and human immunology and the competence of research groups at the University of Fribourg (UNIFR) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) on the recruitment of immune effector cells into tumors and tumor-host interactions. These complementary scientific expertise and the diverse research tools that are used in the different laboratories provide a unique framework for the training of young scientists. The PhD students in the “Cell migration” program are exposed to state-of-the art investigative methods such as live cell in vitro and in vivo imaging, transgenic mouse models and human in vitro models. They will acquire highly competitive scientific skills which will set the ground for a successful career. The “Cell migration” PhD program creates a network among Swiss research groups in the field of cell migration in immunosurveillance, inflammation and cancer and builds up collaborations which will contribute to persistent progress in cancer and inflammation research.

A central feature of the “Cell migration” PhD program is collaborative and interdisciplinary research which requires mobility of the students. The PhD students perform specific parts of their thesis within the different participating laboratories and in this way will gain a broad theoretical and methodological know-how that could not be acquired in the individual laboratories and that will allow them to build up a scientific network. The program also includes advanced lectures, seminars and workshops in different aspects of cell migration, both theoretically and practically and the students have the opportunity to present their work at internal and international meetings.