Attracting and training the most talented young scientists is key to the future of our laboratories. The ICST LabEx associates research labs from 4 of the top 12 French Universities (Nice, Montpellier, Grenoble and Lille). All academic partners are affiliated with Doctoral Schools and Master Programs in their Universities. All partners have a strong experience in mentoring Doctoral and Masters students in their laboratories. All are involved at different levels in teaching, lecturing, evaluation and selection of graduate students, and delivering Master and PhD diplomas.

While some teaching modules cover specific aspects of ion channels properties, at present, ion channels are not a major topic in the graduate teaching programs of universities associated with our laboratories. The training chapter of this proposal coordinated by Pr Jacques Noël aims to create specific courses, technological workshops and e.learning classes at the Master and PhD levels, accessible to continuous education for applicants from the academic and private sectors. A package of English and French classes will be proposed taking advantage of University of Nice resources (French classes at “Université d’été” and Laboratory of language). This will be crucial for efficient scientific communication and essential for integration into daily life.

  • At the Master level, our project is to create the ICST-Master, an international Master course on “Ion Channel Science & Therapeutics”. The aim is to train students “for research through research". Initially, the ICST-Master will be an international course coupled to the specialty “Pharmacology, Physiopathology and Neurosciences” of the current Master in Life Sciences & Health of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. The latter has been well evaluated by the AERES (A grade). Its faculty-director, Pr. Jacques Noël, is a member of the ICST consortium (Lingueglia team). Two representatives of the ICST partners will participate in the steering committee of the Master in Nice. The best French and foreign post-graduate students will be selected by committees in each ICST partner lab on their CV, letter of motivation and interviews in person or via videoconferencing. We expect to bring 15 to 20 students to Nice each year with Scientific and Medical curriculum. We believe the creation of an international course within the Master in Life Sciences & Health gives strong credit to the project as it opens the opportunity to host students from south European countries (Italy, Spain, Romania), and countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Israel), from South and North America (Brazil, Canada…), and North European countries (Belgium, Netherland, England…). We have links with Universities from all these countries through co-habilitation of diploma, student exchange (ERASMUS, CREPUQ, TEMPUS), and scientific collaborations. These links will serve to advertise the ICST international Master course. We believe that an initial collaboration with an existing formation helps with organization, student administration, and saves resources through sharing courses (Health & Safety, Scientific Communication, etc). From the students view, this creates an open international course with bridges to the other specialties of the Master in Nice. Students will have the opportunity to select part of their teaching from the different specialties and if necessary to reorient themselves in one of the 3 specialties of the Master. It is important that the ICST course is not a tubular structure but an open course. Ultimately, the ICST-Master will become a full specialty of the Master in Life Sciences & Health.

The ICST Master course will have 4 semesters. Semester 1 and 3 offer 6 classes in a range of topics on ion channels (180 teaching hours). Lectures will be given in Nice by researchers from ICST labs, in addition to a range of international experts. Lectures will be recorded, and e.learning courses will be included in the LabEx website for remote student teaching and for continuous education of professionals engaged in life-long learning curriculum. Teaching topics will cover the main axes of the project: transcriptomics, proteomics, molecular engineering, functional channel properties (biophysics, electrophysiology, trafficking, etc), cell biology of ion channels (cell proliferation, apoptosis, etc), ion channel pharmacology and drug discovery, roles of ion channels in physiology and physiopathology (channelopathies…), therapeutic interest of ion channel targeting for treating pain, cardiac dysfunction, cancer and neurological disorders. From January to June, semesters 2 and 4 will be 6-month internships in partner labs. Internships in labs abroad may be considered on the basis of research excellence in the field of ion channels research.

After the ICST-Master course, students may enter the ICST-PhD program or other PhD programs in France, abroad or in the private sector. Our objective is that more than 80% of ICST-Master students pursue towards a PhD. The national scale of our LabEx project is definitely an asset for this objective.

  • International ICST-PhD course - The objectives of the ICST international PhD program is to train talented young scientists in the field of ion channel research. We anticipate each of the participating research groups to have 2 ICST-PhD-students over 8 years, so 4 PhD positions per year will be financed directly through the LabEx. Internal competition for PhD projects will be organized under the supervision of the steering committee. The primary criteria for PhD research projects selection will be excellence with emphasis on reinforcing the interfaces between the different groups in the LabEx. PhD projects involving multiple partners and joint supervision of PhD within the consortium will be favored. This will promote sharing and diffusion of scientific skills between partner groups. Selected projects will be advertised nationally and internationally. A short list of excellent applicants will be invited to defend their previous research achievements (Master, internship, etc) and to discuss with lab leaders. Successful candidates will be presented in the Doctoral Schools affiliated with their lab. Of course, ICST-Master students will be encouraged to participate. Mentoring of ICST-PhD students by the LabEx will be pursued during their thesis. Each student will have a secondary mentor from another LabEx lab to provide external advice and support.

We propose 3 actions to train ICST-PhD students in the latest topics of ion channel research.

1. Implementing e-learning courses on hot topics in ion channel discovery. This will be an open resource for students and the community. This project will use new communication technologies (interactive e.learning, podcasting, etc). Courses will be offered as a training program to PhD Schools. 

2. Funding for training periods of 2 to 3 months in partner labs. Students will learn new skills and techniques. Training periods in labs abroad may be funded on the consideration if deemed essential to bring new scientific skills to the ICST partner labs.

3. Confrontation with the scientific community. ICST-PhD students will attend at least one national and one international scientific congress during their thesis. A special partnership is proposed with the French “Association des Canaux Ioniques”, and it is expected that ICST-PhD students will meet annually at the Association’s scientific congress. This will be the opportunity for students to share their experience and projects in a convivial atmosphere.

As a whole, this ambitious program will draw young talented researchers to ion channel research and give the impetus to lead a successful career in Life Sciences in both academia and private sector.