HZI International Graduate School for Infection Research (GS-FIRE)

The HZI International Graduate School for Infection Research (GS-FIRE) 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 GS-FIRE has created an electrifying environment where young researchers are stimulated to exchange knowledge with their colleagues, peers and leading scientists from around the world. Besides 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 course of study is to strength the knowledge of PhD candidates within the research area of the complex interaction between host and the pathogen during infection with a focus on 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 and retreats, scientific presentation as well as several events to establish networks and collaboration, are also integrated in the focus of the programme. The PhD candidates have the opportunity to intensify their scientific knowledge and soft skills. The programme should prepare young scientists for the next step of their career.

Structure of the curriculum in detail:

Topic lectures: Each topic lecture series includes eight lectures on a defined topic (such as cell biology, immunology and structure biology). Ten different lecture series are currently offered, five should be selected by the PhD candidate. All topic lectures are modular and are repeated every second year.

Thesis Committee: The supervisor together with the PhD candidate assembles 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.

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

Journal clubs: Each PhD candidate participates regularly in and prepares a literature report in journal clubs on a given subject.

Symposia: Minisymposia on specific areas of research are organised biannually. These symposia typically include lectures by external speakers on different topics related and non-related to the expertise of the participating research institutes.

Annual retreats: Once a year all PhD candidates and their supervisors meet during the retreat. Each candidate presents the progress of their PhD project and cross topic projects are planned.

Summer Schools: 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 presented by the participants.

Transferable Skills courses: In addition to the scientific training, a number of transferable skills courses are part of the curriculum and can be freely selected. These include scientific writing, intellectual property issues, career and leadership, research management training and intercultural communication.

Credit points system: To satisfy the PhD requirements the PhD candidate has to submit a thesis and prove successful participation in a structured PhD programme. This requires the accumulation of credit points, which are given for all offered aspects of the curriculum and for participation in externally organized events. The partner universities fully acknowledge the activities of GS-FIRE.





Dr. Sabine Kirchhoff

GS-FIRE (International Graduate School for Infection Research)


Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Inhoffenstraße 7

38124 Braunschweig