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Member Programs

Information about individual doctoral degree programs

If you would like to learn more about individual doctoral programs, their research fields,  or open positions/scholarships, please go to the information about current or previous programs:

Current Member Programs

CEPLAS – Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences – from complex traits towards synthetic modules is a joint effort of HHU, University of Cologne, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Researchers of these institutions are pursuing inventive strategies for sustainable plant production. The goal of this cluster initiative is to develop state of the art methods for a second green revolution on the basis of innovative basic research and established know-​how in plant research. CEPLAS focuses on cutting edge science as well as on the promotion of young scientists by novel study modules and individual training programmes.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.

Homepage: CEPLAS

Die Düsseldorf School of Oncology DSO ist ein spezielles Ausbildungsprogramm des UTZ Düsseldorf für medizinische und naturwissenschaftliche Doktoranden im Bereich der onkologischen Forschung. Die Düsseldorf School of Oncology hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, die Qualität der Ausbildung des wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses im Bereich der Krebsforschung nachhaltig zu verbessern.

Durch eine umfassende Ausbildung in den Bereichen Biochemie, Zellbiologie, Molekularbiologie, Physiologie, Bioinformatik, Molekularer und Experimenteller Medizin erhalten die Doktoranden eine hervorragende Qualifikation auf dem Gebiet der molekularen Tumorbiologie.

Für weitere Informationen und offene Stellen besuchen Sie bitte die Homepage.
Homepage: Düsseldorf School of Oncology (UTZ-​DSO)

Unraveling molecular resistance mechanisms against pharmacologically active compounds as well as the search for new bioactive compounds that can overcome either intrinsic or extrinsic resistance are core subjects of pharmaceutical research.

This important topic will be investigated within the Research Training Group GRK2158 as exemplified by chemoresistant tumors and infections with chemoresistant microbial pathogens. Both forms of diseases are characterized by numerous resistance mechanisms against currently available drugs which may either weaken the success of drug therapy or which will render it completely ineffective.

Known resistance mechanisms of tumors and microbial pathogens show functional similarities. Efforts aiming at a combined study of antitumor and of antimicrobial activities will thus lead to a scientific added value, especially as microorganisms often serve as model systems for research on more complex eukaryotic cells. Natural products and analogs inspired by natural products that are derived from stress exposed and hitherto rarely investigated marine organisms and fungal endophytes (e.g. from the People’s Republic of China) will serve as a pool for new lead structures and inspirations for novel molecular tools that will help in unraveling molecular modes of action and resistance mechanisms.

The Research Training Group is highly interdisciplinary. It enables graduate students to acquire comprehensive knowledge in important basic as well as applied aspects of modern preclinical drug discovery and will qualify them for future sophisticated professional activities.

The Research Training Group will further strengthen the already established research priorities of the HHU in the field of tumor and infectious disease research and will add the important aspect of pre-clinical drug discovery.

A structured training program for graduate students includes the acquisition of career relevant key qualifications. This Research Training Group aims at forming a new generation of experts in the field of molecular drug discovery with a unique interdisciplinary capability for which there is a high demand in academia and in industrial research as well as in regulatory authorities.

Visit the Homepage for further questions:
Homepage: GRK 2158

The Graduiertenkolleg/Research Training Group GRK 2240: Algebro-Geometric Methods in Algebra, Arithmetic and Topology is funded by the The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It is located at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf (HHU) and the Bergische Universität Wuppertal (BUW). The main goal of the research training group is the application of tools and results from Algebraic Geometry to pure mathematics, for instance in nearby areas of Algebraic Topology, Group Theory, K-theory, Model Theory, Number Theory and Representation Theory. The emphasis is on the qualification of doctoral researchers within the framework of a focused research program and a structured training strategy.

The recruitment process for the next 9 PhD positions has begun. Please visit our job offers for more details.

Homepage GRK 2240

The International Graduate School for Plant Science is offering an international PhD program with excellent research possibilities for young scientists. iGRAD-​Plant is a joint program with the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Genetics program of the Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA. In order to achieve international research experience all PhD students in the iGRAD-​Plant program perform a 6 to 9 month research stay at the Michigan State University, one of the leading universities of plant science in the USA.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.
Homepage: iGRAD-​Plant

The relevance of electronic excitation of molecules ranges from photobiology to molecular electronics, basic research to applications such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLED). Intersystem crossing (ISC), the non-radiative interconversion of electronic states with different spin multiplicities, is a key process in photochemistry and photophysics. The efficiency and kinetics of ISC can render electronically excited molecules photo-labile or -stable, emissive or dark. Within ModISC, the ISC in molecules will be studied and modulated by chemical substitution and by varying the molecular environment. The research groups involved in ModISC will contribute to interdisciplinary research seeking for a deeper understanding of emission enhancement by controlling ISC from singlet to triplet and its reverse.

For more information visit the website:

Homepage GRK 2482

About 7 million people in Germany suffer from type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Genetic predisposition and environmental factors, in particular early exposure to adverse modifiable lifestyle factors such as prenatal or juvenile overnutrition and lack of exercise have been associated with an increased diabetes risk. However, the mechanistic links between early exposures, onset of impaired insulin action in early life and inadequate β−cell function in subsequent phases are not well understood.

The aim of the research program is to better understand the critical molecular mechanisms in the early development of T2DM. Doctoral researchers in basic sciences and medicine (PhD/MD) will jointly investigate novel experimental models for early diabetes development. A structured and coherent qualification program sets the frame for sustained training and mentoring to gain comprehensive knowledge in translational diabetes research.

Homepage: Vivid



Das GRK 2578 "Einfluss von Genotoxinen auf die Differenzierungseffizienz muriner und humaner Stamm- und Progenitorzellen sowie die Funktionalität von daraus abgeleiteten differenzierten Zelltypen" wird von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) gefördert. Es bündelt die an verschiedenen Institutionen der HHU vorhandenen wissenschaftlichen Expertisen in einem interdisziplinären toxikologischen Schwerpunkt mit Fokus auf Aspekten der Genetischen Toxikologie in Verbindung mit Fragestellungen der Stammzellbiologie.

Das Graduiertenkolleg bietet 11 naturwissenschaftlichen und 9 medizinischen Doktoranden ein umfassendes und aktuelles Forschungsprogamm, flankiert durch ein umfassendes und strukturiertes Qualifizierungskonzept. Auf diese Weise soll eine bundesweit einzigartige berufsqualifizierende Weiterbildung im Fach Toxikologie erreicht werden.

Homepage: GRK2578

iBrain, the interdisciplinary graduate school for brain research and translational neuroscience at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), provides a first-​class research training and qualification program for doctoral researchers working in any of the research groups of the Neuroscience Network Düsseldorf (NND). iBrain is supported by institutional funds of HHU and its Medical Faculty. The common theme of the doctoral projects pursued in iBrain is the investigation of important mechanisms involved in brain function and their disturbances in common brain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, CNS trauma and brain tumors, with the goal to identify novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets for these mostly incurable diseases. Early stage researchers with a background in the natural sciences or medicine are provided with expert knowledge and skills in basic and translational neuroscience research. For further information on the individual research areas, principal investigators and participating institutions please visit the webpages of the Neuroscience Network Düsseldorf (NND).

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.

The International Graduate School for Plant Science is offering an international PhD program with excellent research possibilities for young scientists. iGRAD-​Plant is a joint program with the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Genetics program of the Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA. In order to achieve international research experience all PhD students in the iGRAD-​Plant program perform a 6 to 9 month research stay at the Michigan State University, one of the leading universities of plant science in the USA.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.
Homepage: iGRAD-​Plant

he IUF was founded in 2001. Its legal form is that of a non-profit, limited liability company. Sole shareholder is the “Gesellschaft zur Förderung umweltmedizinischer Forschung e.V.” (GFUF, Society for the Promotion of Environmental-Medical Research). In January 2011, the IUF became a member of the Leibniz Association and was renamed IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine.


The IUF’s major task is to carry out molecular preventive medical research of environmentally-induced disorders. The main objective is to improve health care with regard to environmental pollution and to develop preventive strategies. The IUF carries out research projects addressing the biological effects that pollutants (in particular particles, non-ionizing radiation and chemicals) have on humans. Environmentally-induced aging processes of the lung and the skin as well as environmentally-induced disturbances of the immune system and damages to the brain are in focus. Based on the scientific competence in the institute these investigations are carried out interdisciplinarily. The IUF bundles scientific expertise in the fields of toxicology, immunology, molecular aging research and epidemiology. This interdisciplinary research approach needs experimental models of one or more barrier organs (boundary surface medicine). The impact of environmental factors is mainly investigated in the organ systems skin, lung and brain. Besides in vitro examinations on cultured cells and (partly genuinely at the IUF developed) human 3 dimensional organic model systems, in vivo examinations in animal models as well as in humans and epidemiological studies are conducted.

For more information visith the homepage:

Homepage: IUF

The aim of the Graduate School is to implement a unique training for scientific PhD researchers in the field of infectiology. The young researchers will be trained to discover new strategies for the elimination / clearance of pathogens from the infected host. The projects undertaken by the Manchot Graduate School "Molecules of Infection" (GS MOI) concentrate on molecules that play important roles during infections, and these will be characterized in the context of specific disease models.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.
Homepage: MOI

Das NRW-​Forschungskolleg Online-​Partizipation ist ein vom Land Nordrhein-​Westfalen gefördertes Graduiertenkolleg, in dem Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus der Betriebswirtschaft, Informatik, Kommunikationswissenschaft, Politikwissenschaft, Rechtswissenschaft und Soziologie gemeinsam mit Partnern aus der Praxis zusammenarbeiten. Ziel des Forschungskollegs ist es, die Möglichkeiten des Internets zur Beteiligung von Betroffenen an für sie relevanten Entscheidungen zu untersuchen.

The PhD programme „Online Participation“ is funded by the North Rhine-Westphalian funding scheme “Fortschrittskollegs” and brings together scientists from the field of Computer Science, Business Studies, Law, Sociology, Communication Studies and Political Science as well as a large number of practitioners to investigate the opportunities the internet offers to involve citizens in the making of political and administrative decisions that affect them.

The guiding question of the PhD programme is:

“How and under what conditions can the potential of online participation in the political participation process at the local level be systematically developed, practically applied and scientifically evaluated?”

To address this guiding question, more than a dozen PhD students together with the research staff of the programme work on a trans- and multidisciplinary basis.

The programme was launched officially in October of 2014. The PhD programme is organized by the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Please visit the homepage for further information:
Homepage: Forschungskolleg

All living cells are enveloped by membranes that respond to external and internal stimuli and represent constantly changing boundaries rather than static entities. Biological membranes maintain a state of non-equilibrium between the inside and outside of a cell or subcellular compartment and between the cells of multicellular organisms.
What determines the identity of membranes and how do they control their dynamic processes in space and time? What is the role of their constituents, especially membrane proteins and membrane protein complexes? These are the fundamental questions addressed in this SFB.

The finely balanced, dynamic network of interactions between membranes within a cell as well as between cells will be investigated using the closely interwoven aspects of "transport", "pathogenic processes" and "remodelling". This is illustrated by example processes, such as the secretion and endocytosis processes in eukaryotes, or the protein translocation process across two membranes using transporter nanomachines in Gram-negative bacteria, or the communication processes either between cells of a multicellular organism or between cells and pathogens. Our investigations comprise a two-pronged approach ,starting from the level of single membrane proteins and their complexes as well as from whole cellular membrane systems.

For further information please visit the homepage:
Homepage: SFB 1208


In nature, microorganisms interact and communicate with one another, exchanging nutrients and information, an active process we call "networking".

MibiNet aims to understand microbial networking in their full complexity to explain how organelles evolve and how microbiome functions.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.
Homepage CRC 1535

The Graduate School in Ecological Genetics (GEcoGen) is an integrated Research Training Group (iRTG) specially designed to offer both doctoral and post-doctoral early career researchers (ECR) a targeted high-quality training. It is embedded in the umbrella graduate schools/academies at the participating Universities. Students within GEcoGen are gaining a profound understanding of the concepts and methodological approaches in the different disciplines of Molecular Biology and Ecology to develop novel research ideas and approaches in Ecological Genetics. 

The professional courses offered by the GEcoGen are assigned to three competence areas: communication, academic career, and non-academic career.

For further information and open positions please see the homepage.
Homepage GEcoGen

Previous Member Programs

CLIB: Graduate Cluster Industrial Biotechnology
Homepage: CLIB-GC

Evolutionary Networks: Organisms, Reactions, Molecules (E-Norm)
Homepage: E-Norm

GRK 1033: Molecular Targets of Aging Process and Strategies for the Prevention of Aging
Homepage: GRK 1033

GRK 1203: Dynamik heißer Plasmen
Homepage: GRK 1203

GRK 1427 - Nahrungsinhaltsstoffe als Signalgeber nukleärer Rezeptoren im Darm
Homepage: GRK 1427

Helmholtz Interdisciplinary Doctoral Trainig in Energy and Climate Research (HITEC)
Homepage: HITEC

Homepage: iGRASPseed

Manchot Graduiertenschule Molecules of Infection (MOI I)
Homepage: MOI I

NRW-Forschungsschule BioStruct
Homepage: NRW-Forschungsschule BioStruct

Physics of Complex Colloids: Equilibrium and Driven (ITN-COMPLOIDS)

The Research Training Group vivid: In vivo models for human metabolic diseases
Homepage: vivid

SFB - TR 6: Physik von kolloidalen Dispersionen in äußeren Feldern
Homepage: SFB - TR 6

SFB - TR 18: Relativistische Laser-Plasma-Dynamik
Homepage: SFB - TR 18

SFB 590 - Inhärente und adaptive Differenzierungsprozesse
Homepage: SFB 590

SFB 663 - Molekulare Antwort nach elektronischer Anregung
Homepage: SFB 663

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