The organization of the events in the graduate program is shared between the program coordinator and the PhD candidates themselves. This structure offers PhD candidates the chance to integrate their own ideas into the program in close collaboration with the program coordinator and the teaching & training committee.


To cope with the special needs of an international and interdisciplinary reseach environment, we offer a wide range of courses to our PhD candidates.

Language Courses

International PhD candidates can participate in German courses to study the German language and our German PhD students have the chance to optimize their English (especially in the area of scientific English) which is a central ability to feel comfortable in an international research environment. Language courses are offerd by IGA (International Graduate Academy) and by the SLI ("Sprachlehrinstitut") at Freiburg university.

Interdisciplinary training

Our PhD candidates come from very different scientific fields. A common basic knowledge of several scientific fields is therefor necessary to work together effectivly. We offer our PhD candidates the possibility to gain knowledge in those scientific areas they were not in contact with during their Bachelor and Master studies.

We offer a repertoire of lectures and seminars by our BrainLinks-BrainTools PIs in which our students can take part in. Some of them directly aim at interdisciplinary tranining, like the lecture series "Biology for Engineers". A list of all lectures and seminars is available here. Further courses can be found in the course catalog of Freiburg University.

Futhermore, the PhD candidates organize cross teaching seminars to explain their expert knowledge to their peers from other faculties. Those seminars enable junior scientists to get basic insights into other disciplines and to train their teaching abilities.

The PhD candidates also visit one another in their labs to get an impression how scientists from different areas perform their experiments and how the interdisciplinary collaboration can be further improved. Hand-on courses offered by a wide range of group leaders enable junior scientists to get to know and to perform techniques from very different research areas.

Soft skills

To acquire basic soft skills like scientific writing or scientific presentation, a course program offered by IGA allows our PhD candidates to participate in a huge variety of soft skill courses. The registration opens at the beginning of the semester. To participate in a course, PhD candidates must be registered at their faculty.


A mentoring program for female scientists was initiated by the cluster and is opened for all female members of the graduate program. For more details please see kite-mentoring.

Junior scientists workshop

Once a year, the junior scientists go for a retreat in the black forest for several days. The stay in a hut combines scientific work and exchange with social events (e.g. hiking, snowshoeing).

Beside cross teaching sessions, PhD candidates can get to know each other and discuss their research without any PI to live out their full creativity. PhD candidates close to finish their thesis and postdocs lead the scientific work and discussion. Futhermore, junior scientist develop ideas for further activities in the future.

The workshop is financed by the cluster and organized by a committee of PhD candidates and the program coodinator. Upon invitation by the junior scientists, the coordinator participates in the workshop.

International exchange program

The cluster offers an exchange program with the CSNE in Seattle. PhD candidates can stay in a host lab at the CSNE over the summer up to a duration of 10 weeks to collect research experiences abroad.

PhD candidates choose their host lab of interest, contact the host PI and ask for an occasion to visit. Upon an agreement, PhD candidates apply until the 1st of March to participate in the exchange during the upcoming summer. The application needs to contain

  • a letter of support from your supervisor
  • the application form, available here

and must be send to Dr. Luise Goroncy and Dr. Eric Chudler (CSNE). The exchange is financed by the host institution (accomodation) and the sending institution (travel costs, daily living).

Upon request, it is also possible to visit labs outside the CSNE. The application form for this program is available here. For any questions, please contact Dr. Luise Goroncy.

Career events

What to do after finishing a PhD? The cluster wants to encourage young researcher to think early about this question and their plans for their careers. Beside the offers of the Career Service at the University of Freiburg, the junior scientist representatives organize together with the program coodinator a career dinner. Invited guests with a biological, medical or technical background who have followed extraodinary ways after finishing their PhD join the junior scientists for a common dinner.

Guest speaker seminar

We invite scientists from all over the world to give a presentation about their research work. Especially junior scientists are encouraged to visit these lectures and to come in contact with many experienced researchers.

Upon request, junior scientists can join the dinner with the speaker to enhance the exchange.

Afterwork hangout

Every month the junior scientist representatives invite to an afterwork hangout. The PhD candidates and postdocs meet in a relaxed atmosphere (brewery, christmas market...), get to know each other and develope ideas how the cluster can further improve the promotion of junior scientists.

Upon invitation, the program coodinator joins the meetings and advices the junior scientists how their ideas can be put into practice.