HAL-OX, the Halle - Oxford International Research Network ‘Disease Biology and Molecular Medicine’, was initiated by the Medical Division of the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in 2014, with the aim of fostering research exchange and scientific excellence between biomedical researchers of the MLU and biomedical research institutes in Oxford, Great Britain (GB).

For historical reasons, the MLU has well-developed academic ties to the East (Poland, Russia, China etc.) but much less exchange with Great Britain, one of the leading research nations in Europe and also a significant trade partner of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The project was initially started with seed funding from the State of Saxony-Anhalt (350.000 €), as well as financial and staff support by the City of Halle (Saale) and by the open access journal CELL COMMUNICATION AND SIGNALING.

In 2017, HAL-OX received grant funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) of European Union (EU), which currently runs until the end of 2022 and encompasses approximately 2.1 million € from the EU (plus a local contribution by the MLU of 20%; ca. 500.000 €).

The support of junior researcher career development through research fellowships, other travel support etc. is a major component of the HAL-OX research network. Medical students as well as natural science students and graduates with ties to the MLU medical division are entitled to apply for funds. However, more senior research staff can also benefit from this program, for example in the context of professional training, conferences or collaborations. HAL-OX also funds a junior professor and research group, including several scientific staff positions.

Tenure-track Jun.Prof. Dr. Michael Böttcher, an expert in CRISPR-based technologies, has taken up his post in the Institute of Molecular Medicine, which is based in the brand-new Charles Tanford Protein Research Center in April 2019.

Furthermore, HAL-OX organizes a high-profile lecture series, inviting prominent researchers from Oxford but, occasionally, also from ‘the other place’ and other international research centers of excellence. The lectures and subsequent reception and speaker’s dinners also provide opportunities for casual networking and for students to find out more about potential host research groups. The HAL-OX network is organized by tumor biologist Prof. Stephan M. Feller.