Graduate School

The HZI International Graduate School for Infection Research provides an innovative structured PhD programme within the field of Infection Research. Implemented at the campus of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig together with its partner universities the HZI Graduate School has created an electrifying environment where young researchers are stimulated to exchange knowledge with their colleagues, peers and leading scientists from all over the world. In addition to intensive scientific training, the young researchers have the possibility of improving their soft skills and advancing their interdisciplinary knowledge in preparation for the job market.

Curriculum overview

The aim of the graduation programme is to strengthen the knowledge of the doctoral researchers within the field of infection research.   The main focus is on the  complex interaction between host and pathogen during infection with special attention to translational science. The curriculum consists of a three-year research project as well as state of the art lectures on relevant topics, symposia, summer schools,  retreats, and scientific presentations. Various networking and collaboration-building events are  also part of the programme. The doctoral researchers will intensify their scientific knowledge and soft skills. The programme is designed to prepare young scientists for the next step of their career.

Structure of the curriculum in detail

Thesis Committee

The supervisor together with the doctoral researcher assemble a Thesis Committee. According to the company agreement, the Thesis Committee is composed of the supervisor and two other experienced scientists preferably from other disciplines. The Thesis Committee helps to design and monitor the progress of the PhD project. It meets regularly and gives advice in a constructive manner.

Topic Lectures

Each topic lecture series includes eight lectures on a defined topic (such as cell biology, immunology and structure biology). A variety of different lecture series is offered, the doctoral researchers have to participate in five of them. All topic lectures are modular and are repeated.


These courses offer training in special areas and are organized by the research groups which are experts in their field (e.g. flow cytometry, microscopy, micro-array, cell sorting, handling of mice).


Summer Schools are dedicated to infection research and related topics. They include state of the art scientific questions and technologies. The schools comprise one week of intensive training with a seminar programme presented by invited speakers as well as workshops within small groups and poster sessions/talks presented by the participants.


Once a year, all doctoral researchers and their supervisors meet during the retreat. Each doctoral researcher presents the progress of the PhD project. An accompanying programme with keynote lectures and networking complements the two-day event.


Once a year, all doctoral researchers meet for the PhD Symposium without their supervisors. They present their work either in a talk or with a poster and chair individual talk sessions.


Annual presentation and participation in departmental journal clubs.


To learn new techniques and to acquire methodological knowledge, a stay in external partner laboratories is possible.


During the PhD time, doctoral researchers either present a poster or give a talk on an external international conference. This also provides the opportunity for international networking with experienced scientists.


Attendance of a GSP course is mandatory.


Company visits are intended to promote contact with regional and national companies and increase the exchange between research and practice.


HZI's Department of Human Resources Development offers a range of counseling and training opportunities to doctoral researchers in preparation for entering the job market.



Dr Sabine Kirchhoff

Head of the Department Human Resources Development
HZI International Graduate School for Infection Research
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Inhoffenstraße 7
38124 Braunschweig


  • HZI International Graduate School
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