Closed borders and working from home: What is the future of cross-border projects on the European Campus during the Corona crisis? In this series we are asking researchers and teachers about the effects of the crisis on their bi- or trinational cooperation.

In the “Upper Rhine Immunology Group”, or URI group for short, immunology researchers at the European Campus frequently network. Wolfgang Schamel is an immunology professor at the University of Freiburg, member of the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS (Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies) and co-founder of URI.

Prof. Schamel, how has the current crisis affected your cross-border collaboration?
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schamel: For people like me, who are not in a laboratory, but mainly work on the computer, the Corona crisis is almost like a “mini-sabbatical”, except that you just stay in the same place. Teaching was suspended for the time being, many meetings were cancelled. Slowly everything is taking place online again, but first I had more time due to the crisis. And I used this time, amongst other things, for a common URI group project.

Are you spending that time on a Eucor project?
Schamel: Yes, exactly. We had already submitted an application to the European Union for a joint doctoral program. It was not approved for mainly formal reasons. We have used the time gained to work on this application in a concentrated manner. So I have been meeting online very regularly recently with my colleagues from France and Switzerland. The applicant will be Eucor – The European Campus, in partnership with the Universities of Freiburg, Basel and Strasbourg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. We want to submit the application improved once again.

Getting back to the corona crisis. Does the URI group – that is, the immunological association – have anything directly to do with coronavirus infections?
Schamel: Yes, there are a number of research groups in Freiburg, Strasbourg and Basel that have started examining the coronavirus recently. It is a truly intriguing topic for us – so much so that we have taken it up in our online lectures with our master’s students. These research groups are working either on an immunological response with coronavirus patients, on the virus itself or on the virus’ proteins. We URI spokespersons are in the process of bringing these different, yet complementary approaches together and will certainly include the topic of coronaviruses in our joint doctoral program.

Information about the Upper Rhine Immunology Group