Graduate Program

"RNA & Infection"

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.

Long-forgotten pathogens are experiencing a renaissance, and new ones are constantly emerging—infectious diseases represent a major challenge for society in the 21st century. At the same time, antibiotic resistance is on the rise: conventional antibiotic therapies continue to fail in many clinical setting. Thus, novel therapeutic options are urgently needed. RNA-based drugs could offer a solution.

The HIRI graduate training program “RNA & Infection”, which was launched in 2018, is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists with expertise in RNA and infection biology. The program is highly unique as it offers fully-funded positions independent of any group or project: Successful applicants first rotate through three HIRI labs of their choice. Then, they select their advisor and thesis project.

International conferences, scientific retreats, workshops

Our students receive structured mentoring and training throughout their PhD, including short intensive courses in RNA and infection biology, annual scientific retreats, and opportunities to present their research at international conferences. They will receive thorough training in state-of-the-art techniques like RNA- and single-cell sequencing, CRISPR-Cas genome editing, and machine learning—and leverage this knowledge toward the understanding of the roles RNAs play in infection processes.


Questions? Email us

How to apply

Introducing our PhD students


“RNA & Infection” at a glance

Cutting-edge research

The HIRI is a globally unique research institution excelling in science at the interface of RNA and infection biology.

Fully-funded PhD positions

We offer fully-funded PhD positions for three years (1 year + 2 years after evaluation) equivalent to TVÖD E13 (65 %).

Select your advisor and your project

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 select their advisor and thesis project.

Innovative technologIES

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

Workshops & practical courses

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

structured mentoring

PhD candidates will benefit from an interdisciplinary committee of international scientists, who guide and support 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. German language courses are available to all employees at HIRI.

What we expect

Typical “RNA & Infection” students will hold an MSc (or equivalent) in molecular or cell biology, microbiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, bioengineering, or related fields. We expect to see a strong academic and scientific track record. Solid background knowledge in RNA biology, microbiology, virology, cell biology, host-pathogen-interaction, single-cell analysis, bioinformatics, or biochemistry is preferred.

We are looking for candidates with good English communication and presentation skills (written and spoken). Furthermore, we expect our prospective PhD students to have intercultural competence paired with self-motivation and enthusiasm, as well as a 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 and infection biology to apply. The salary of our PhD fellowships is comparable to international standards and includes broad healthcare and pension.

The call for applications is closed.

Selection Process

Candidate selection is a two-step process: First, a formal online application is required. Applicants are asked to focus on the tab “Research interest” describing their motivation to apply, their research background, and interest. Please note that the submission of academic reference letters is not necessary at this time. In a second step, we invite short-listed candidates to Würzburg for in-person interviews.

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


Introducing our PhD Students

Further Information

Working at HIRI
Graduate Program "RNAmed - Future Leaders in RNA-based Medicine"
Our location Würzburg

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