Sites of the Helmholtz Centre

The Sites of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are distributed all over Germany. In addition to the main campus in Braunschweig, there are facilities in five other cities: Hamburg, Hanover, Saarbrücken, Würzburg and Greifswald.

Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)

Graduate Training Program

Fully-funded - Structured mentoring - Lab rotations - Select your advisor

The HIRI graduate training program “RNA & Infection” inspires and challenges PhD students to develop into independent scientists at the interface of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and infection biology.

Apply state of the art RNA-sequencing applications in host-pathogen interactions to map the RNA landscapes of pathogens and their infecting hosts. Develop and use emerging techniques like single-cell sequencing, CRISPR-Cas genome editing, and machine learning to understand the roles these molecules play in disease.

What we offer


The HIRI is a globally unique research institution whose mission is world-class science at the interface of RNA & infection biology


We offer fully funded 3-year PhD positions (1year + 2 years after evaluation) equivalent to TVÖD E13 (60%)


New technologies including single-cell, RNA-seq and CRISPR-based methodologies, are developed and applied at the HIRI to interrogate and visualize infection processes.


PhD candidates will benefit from an interdisciplinary committee of international scientists, guiding and supporting students throughout their thesis.


The graduate program is taught in English and is well supported by an integrated network of international PhD students and supervisors. German language courses are available to all employees at HIRI.


A structured framework of lectures, seminars, practical courses, as well as hard and soft skill workshops will equip students to successfully to complete their PhD thesis and thrive in academia or industry.


Positions are independent of any group or project. Students can pursue their scientific passion in all Research Groups of the HIRI. After rotations in three labs students decide for their group and project of choice.

What we expect


MSc or equivalent in molecular or cell biology, microbiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, bioengineering or related fields and a strong academic and scientific track record.


Proven background knowledge in microbiology, virology, cell biology, pathogen-host-interaction, RNA biology, single-cell analysis, bioinformatics or biochemistry.


Good English communication and presentation skills (written and spoken).


Intercultural competence paired with with self-motivation and enthusiasm and the strong desire to do research at the interface of RNA and infection biology.


We invite outstanding students of all nationalities dedicated to working at the interface of RNA & 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. The salary of our PhD fellowships is comparable to international standards and includes broad healthcare benefits and pension.

Application Deadline

The current call for applications has been completed. The next call will open in spring 2021.

Selection Process

Candidate selection is a two-step process: First, we ask for a formal online application. Applicants are asked to focus on the tab "Research interest" describing their motivation to apply, their research background and research interest. Please note that the submission of academic reference letters is not neccessary at this time. In a second step, we invite short-listed candidates to Würzburg for in-person interviews. Overseas applicants are likely to be interviewed via a video call.

Applicants who need to make earlier decisions or have general questions about the program are encouraged to contact our scientific coordinator Dr. Tim Schnyder.

Online Application

If you want to become a part of the HIRI Graduate Training Program "RNA & Infection", please register and apply via the link below.

Your application will be managed by the online application system of the Graduate School for Infection research (GS-FIRE) of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI). In case of any problems, please check the FAQ section or contact the Graduate School  directly.


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