International Programmes 2021/2022

Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS)

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg • Würzburg


The Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS)
The Graduate School of Life Sciences is a joint initiative of the Faculties of Biology, Medicine, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, Physics, and Human Sciences (Psychology). The school was founded in 2006 and operates under the umbrella of the University of Würzburg Graduate Schools (UWGS).
The GSLS prepares doctoral researchers for successful careers in academia and industry. Several world-class research institutions have joined forces to offer doctoral researchers interdisciplinary research projects at the forefront of science and a curriculum tailored to their individual needs. Among the participating institutions are the Biocenter, the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF), the Research Center for Infectious Diseases (ZINF), the Rudolf Virchow Center for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging (RVZ), the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB), and the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI). The school’s concept was supported from the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments over two funding periods. Since November 2019, the graduate school has been funded by the Bavarian state and the University of Würzburg. The GSLS is composed of five sections specialising in different aspects of the life sciences and offers a three-year doctoral study programme culminating in either a PhD or a German Dr rer nat degree.

The biomedicine section is involved in the study of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Research efforts focus on the analysis of target proteins at different levels of biological organisation. Ultimately, the goal is to explore new strategies for diagnosis and therapy. This section places particular emphasis on tumour biology, cardiovascular sciences, molecular biosciences, and developmental biology.

Infection and Immunity
The infection and immunity section represents an internationally recognised major research focus within the University of Würzburg with firmly established interdisciplinary collaboration between different faculties. The scientific programme comprises research on infection, RNA-based infection, immunomodulation, and anti-infectives.

Integrative Biology
The integrative biology section aims at a cross-taxon approach to the understanding of complex biological phenomena and integrates all levels of biological organisation. The hallmark of research is the combination of organismic, evolutionary, and molecular biology utilising a wide array of methods.

Neuroscience is one of the most rapidly developing areas in the life sciences. The neuroscience section brings together expertise in system physiology, behavioural neuroscience, molecular biology, molecular structure and function, organic and pharmaceutical chemistry, and bioinformatics.

Clinical Sciences
Research in the clinical sciences section aims at translating target molecule identification into new diagnostic and therapeutic venues to provide novel treatment and prevention strategies in clinical settings.


Participating faculties

  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Human Sciences

Participating research centres

  • Biocenter (Theodor-Boveri-Institute, Julius-von-Sachs-Institute for Biosciences)
  • Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology (CCTB)
  • Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine (ZEMM)
  • Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) Mainfranken
  • Comprehensive Hearing Center (CHC)
  • Comprehensive Heart Failure Center (CHFC)
  • Fraunhofer Translational Center Regenerative Therapies (TLC-RT)
  • German Center of Prevention Research in Mental Health (GCMP)
  • Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)
  • Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB)
  • Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF)
  • Würzburg Institute of Systems Immunology (Max Planck Research Group)
  • Mildred Scheel Early Career Center (MSNZ Würzburg)
  • Musculosketal Center Würzburg (MCW)
  • Research Center for Infectious Diseases (ZINF)
  • Rudolf Virchow Center (RVZ) for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging
Course language

All services as well as activities and events are offered in English.

Financial support
Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Career advisory service

Career coaching & support

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Tutors
  • Accompanying programme
  • Specialist counselling
List of doctoral programmes and other offers

The main programme at the GSLS is the PhD / Dr rer nat programme for students holding a Master's degree in a life science discipline.

For students of medicine, the GSLS offers a structured and research-oriented doctorate (Dr med) in order to achieve greater integration of basic medical research and patient care.

In the MD/PhD programme, doctors who have already obtained a medical doctorate can also obtain a doctorate in natural sciences by following a modified version of our main PhD study programme.

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

The history of Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg reaches back as far as 1402. Many eminent scholars and scientists, 14 Nobel laureates among them, have conducted research and taught in Würzburg. Notable scientists include Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who discovered X-rays in Würzburg in 1895, and Klaus von Klitzing, who discovered the Quantum-Hall Effect. Today, Würzburg’s university comprises ten faculties with approximately 425 professors and 29,000 students. JMU is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Germany, according to the rankings of domestic and international research organisations and international expert committees. On an international level, the University of Würzburg ranks in the top bracket of academic institutions in many scientific disciplines, including biology, medicine, physics, and psychology.

In the 1990s, the university began founding cross-faculty research centres, which opened up new research areas and possibilities for innovative degree programmes. These interdisciplinary centres, such as the Research Center for Infectious Diseases, have become an internationally prominent trademark of the University of Würzburg.

Numerous collaborative research centres, research training groups, and research units, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), have greatly contributed to the university’s high standing in the scientific community.

The University of Würzburg is strongly committed to the advancement of junior academics. In 2004, the university established its graduate schools to provide doctoral candidates with the appropriate resources and facilities to continue and enhance their education.

540 Number of early stage researchers in the GSLS
39 Percentage of international early stage researchers

University location

Around 130,000 inhabitants with an average age of 41 account for Würzburg being classified as one of the youngest cities in Germany. As a European city, Würzburg is open-minded and colourful. Here you can find a diverse cultural programme and a lot of various festivals. The Mediterranean climate allows the cultivation of wine, which characterises the region and the lifestyle associated with it. In addition, there are numerous leisure and sports activities that enable a great work-life balance.