The organization of the events in the graduate program is shared between the program coordinator and the doctoral candidates themselves. This structure offers doctoral 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 research environment, we offer a wide range of courses for doctoral candidates.

Language Courses

International doctoral candidates can participate in German courses to study the German language and our German doctoral researchers have the chance to optimize their scientific English.

Language courses are offerd by IGA (International Graduate Academy) and by the SLI ("Sprachlehrinstitut") at Freiburg university.

Interdisciplinary training

Our doctoral candidates come from very different scientific fields. A common basic knowledge of several research disciplines is therefor necessary to work together effectively. We offer our doctoral 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 early career researchers can take part in. Some of them directly aim at interdisciplinary training, like the lecture series "Biology for Engineers". Further courses can be found in the course catalog of Freiburg University.

Furthermore, the doctoral 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.

Soft skills

BrainLinks-BrainTools organizes workshops in the area of management and leadership so that early career researchers can prepare themselves to take over leadership responsibilities.

To acquire basic soft skills like scientific writing or scientific presentation, a course program offered by IGA allows our doctoral candidates to participate in a huge variety of soft skill courses.


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 for several days. The stay in a hut combines scientific work and exchange with social events (e.g. hiking, snowshoeing).

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

International exchange program

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

Applicants choose their host lab of interest, contact the potential host PI and ask for an occasion to visit. Upon an agreement, junior scientists 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. Bettina Schug and Dr. Eric Chudler (CSNE). The exchange is financed by the host institution (accommodation) and the outsending 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. Bettina Schug.

Career development

What to do after finishing a doctoral thesis? 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 scientists organize an annual career dinner. Invited guests with a biological, medical or technical background who have followed extraordinary ways after having finished their doctoral thesis join the junior scientists for a common dinner.

Further offers in the field of career development are currently developed.

Guest speaker seminar

We invite scientists from all over the world to give a presentation about their research. 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

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