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The GSfBS is an international, broadly based graduate school in the biological sciences. Excellent students with a Bachelors degree can in the first Master semester qualify for the Fast Track Masters/Doctoral programme. Centered on the molecular analysis of biological processes, the scientific base of the programme is broad, providing students with opportunities for training in fields ranging from ecology and evolution to molecular genetics or physiology, and including all of the major microbial, plant and animal model organisms. The Ph.D. programme reflects the increasing importance of interdisciplinarity in research and provides comprehensive training for scientific, methodological and "soft" skills. Each student is individually guided by his/her thesis committee, allowing the completion of a demanding research project in the shortest possible time. Group identity is fostered by soft skills courses, retreats and events like students organized conferences, career days, company visits, Ph.D. days, Alumni days etc. leading to an Alumni network.

The CEPLAS (Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences) Graduate School offers a structured four to five-year doctoral programme that is jointly organised by the Universities of Düsseldorf and Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and the Forschungszentrum Jülich.  Doctoral students begin directly after obtaining a Bachelor´s degree and pursue their PhD through the "Research track".  They begin with a one-year qualification phase during which students enrol in courses and lab rotations that allow them to get to know CEPLAS research and CEPLAS laboratories.  They subsequently enter the research phase by conducting their PhD thesis research in one of the CEPLAS groups for a period of four to five years.  Each doctoral student is supported by a thesis committee. Furthermore the thesis research is complemented by a training programme in scientific and transferable skills (e.g. scientific writing, giving presentations etc.). To be exposed to an international research community additional funding is available for attending conferences or conducting research in a cooperating laboratory abroad for a period of several months.  Available PhD positions/stipends are advertised once per year, usually at the beginning of the year/early spring.
    Ph.D. students admitted to the programme work in one of the CEPLAS member laboratories on a topic related to the CEPLAS research areas: (A) Annual and perennial life histories, (B) C4 photosynthesis, (C) Plant-microbe interaction or (D) Metabolic interaction. Because CEPLAS research projects are highly collaborative, our Ph.D. students will benefit from the combined expertise of molecular biologists, biochemists and theoretical biologists in fields such as molecular plant physiology, plant genetics and quantitative biology.


Beginning in 1999 the Max Planck Society initiated the implementation of so called International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) as a new way to cooperate with partner universities in Germany. The intention of this ambitious plan is threefold. On the one hand, it aims to intensify the collaboration between the Max Planck Institutes and university affiliated research groups. Secondly, the doctoral education should be improved and standardized by offering a structured programme. Thirdly, the IMPRS should contribute to an increased international recruitment of doctoral students.
The research focus of the IMPRS in Cologne is "Komplexe Pflanzeneigenschaften verstehen mit der Hilfe von computerunterstützten und evolutionsorientierten Ansätzen".

The Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research offers a structured 3-year doctoral programme with a full scholarship that is jointly organised by the University of Cologne “Excellence Cluster on Stress Responses in Ageing-Associated Diseases” (CECAD), the International Max Planck Research School of AGE (IMPRS AGE) composed of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research as well as the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar). More than 40 research groups with internationally recognized scientists coverdiverse research areas including genetic determinants of longevity, protein quality control, DNA damage and repair, mitochondria regulation, immunosenescence and inflammation, stem cell and tissue maintenance, organellar and cellular architecture, endocrine control of metabolism, as well as their research into age-related diseases such as neurodegeneration, cancer, diabetes, obesity and kidney dysfunction. Close links between our research groups foster interdisciplinary collaboration and promote the development of novel research approaches.New Core Facilities with state-of-the-art technologies provide excellent infrastructure for training and research. The doctoral programme is comprised of seminars and courses in ageing research, scientific writing and presentation training as well as unique career development opportunities. The Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research strives to promote the scientific independence of the students by immersing them in high quality research, encouraging critical thinking skills, lively exchange with other scientists and active participation in the programme.