Locations of the Helmholtz Centre

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research is located throughout Germany. In addition to the main campus in Braunschweig, there are facilities in 4 other cities: Hamburg, Hanover, Saarbrücken and Würzburg.

Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)

The HIRI was established in May 2017 as a partnership between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the Julius-Maximilian-University of Würzburg (JMU). HIRI is the first research institution worldwide bridging the fields of RNA biology and infectious disease.

The Graduate Program

Our new graduate training program “RNA & Infection” is dedicated to inspiring and training the next generation of scientists to undertake cutting-edge research at the interface of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and infection biology. Situated at the recently founded HIRI, students will have the exceptional opportunity to discover the versatile world of non-coding RNAs and its physiological implications in infectious diseases as well as translate insights into new diagnostics, preventives and anti-infectives. The concept of our program inspires and challenges PhD students to develop into independent and highly qualified scientists.

Program Highlights

Cutting-edge research

The newly founded HIRI is a worldwide unique research institution merging the currently game-changing scientific fields of RNA and infection biology.

Fully-funded PhD positions 

We offer fully-compensated PhD positions (alike TVöD 13,60 %) for an initial term of one year, with the possibility of a two-year extension.

Innovative technology 

At the HIRI, advanced RNA-sequencing technologies are applied to interrogate host-pathogen interactions down to the single-cell level.

Interdisciplinary supervision

PhD students will benefit from an interdisciplinary committee guiding and supporting students throughout their thesis.

Multinational environment 

The graduate program is taught in English and is well supported by an integrated network of international PhD students and supervisors.

Workshop & practical courses

A structured framework of scientific lectures and seminars as well as practical courses and workshops will equip students to successfully complete their PhD thesis.

Research topics and group leaders

To explore the role of RNA in infectious diseases, research at the HIRI concentrates mainly on four scientific areas: bacterial infections, viral infections, host response and RNA delivery. Students can pursue their scientific passion in all research groups of the HIRI. For further information, see also: TEAM HIRI


We invite outstanding students of all nationalities dedicated to working at the interface of RNA and infection biology to apply. Prior to starting the program, applicants are expected to hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in life sciences or a related discipline. A solid background knowledge in microbiology, virology, cell biology, RNA biology, bioinformatics, or biochemistry is helpful but not required.

The salary of our PhD fellowships is comparable to international standards and includes broad health-care benefits and pension.

PhD Application Deadline

The application for the recruitment of PhD students in spring 2019 has been completed. Details of the application procedure for autumn 2019 will be announced soon.


Spring 2019

Online Application


Your application will be managed by the online application system of the Graduate School of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI). Carefully read and follow the guidelines provided on their website.

As part of the application, students will provide contact information for at least two academic references. References will be contacted separately based on the contact information provided by the applicant.



The international Graduate Program "RNA & Infection" is directed by Prof. Chase Beisel and Dr. Emmanuel Saliba.

For further information, please contact Dr. Nina-Vanessa Littwin.




Josef-Schneider-Straße 2
Building D15
97080 Würzburg


+49 931 31 89235

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