Welcome to the IMPRS Principles of Microbial Life in Marburg

We are the graduate programme International Max Planck Research School "Principles of Microbial Life: From molecules to cells, from cells to interactions" (IMPRS-µLife). With us you can do a PhD in different branches of microbiologial research, including

  • Cellular organisation & architecture
  • Physiology & metabolism
  • Microbial communities & interactions
  • Host-microbe interactions
  • Signal transduction & information processing
  • Systems & synthetic biology.

Since 2003 the IMPRS in Marburg offers an international PhD programme with excellent research opportunities for young scientists from all over the world. The programme provides interdisciplinary training in modern microbiology, state-of-the-art research facilities, and mentoring by world class scientists. As an IMPRS student you will be given the freedom to embark on your scientific journey!

The school is a close collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology and the Philipps-Universität Marburg. Research projects can be undertaken in laboratories at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, the LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO), or the Philipps-Universität Marburg. The PhD will be awarded by the Philipps-Universität Marburg.

IMPRS programme

We offer a structured three-year PhD programme, which rests on three pillars:

  1. A cutting-edge PhD project
  2. A structured curriculum with seminars, lectures, courses, workshops, scientific conferences, and retreats
  3. Supervision and mentoring by top scientists

Learn about the experience of our students in the video, or follow the link bellow.

Marburg is a town of excellent research. In the 2021 the DFG (German Research Foundation) - Förderatlas showed that the University of Marburg is very successful in acquiring funding. Marburg has also a rich history of research, so far 11 Nobel prize winners and 11 Leibniz prize winners, most of them from the life science area, are associated with Marburg. One of them, Rudolf Kurt Thauer is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute in Marburg.

The collaboration between the MPI, the Philipps-Universität, and the LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology affords you to find all the resources on campus that you need for your research. Here collaborations are not the exception - they are the rule!

We have experts for:

  • quantitative proteomics (protein identification, relative and absolute proteome quantification, interaction studies and phosphoproteomics)
  • functional genomics incl. global gene expression profiling using RNA-seq
  • targeted and untargeted metabolomics
  • automated design and assembly of DNA and delivery to chassis organisms (DNA foundry)
  • flow cytometry and cell sorting
  • fluorescence microscopy (wide-field, TIRF and confocal live-cell imaging)
  • advanced fluorescence microscopy (FCS, FRET, FRAP)
  • super-resolution microscopy (SIM, STED)
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • protein structure determination using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy
  • macromolecular interaction analyses using surface plasmon resonance technology and bio-layer interferometry
  • large-scale fermentation (anaerobic, light and gas-controlled)
  • robotics for high-throughput screenings
  • access to a joint mechanical workshop shared by MPI and UMR
  • and much more...


The IMPRS also includes social activities, one of them being a biannual retreat. Our PhD student representatives are regularly organising social events, such as a monthly meet-up (Stammtisch), so that you can meet your fellow PhD students. The MPI hosts a summer fest and a great Christmas party!

Marburg is a historic and lively University town in the heart of Germany. If you enjoy the outdoors, there are countless possibilities for activities in and around Marburg. Its location in the Frankfurt metropolitan area, which has Germany's biggest airport, makes it convenient to travel to and from Marburg.

To sum it up: Marburg is a lovely city to study and live, with the possibility to explore the world!

And here are some more facts about Marburg:

  • The University of Marburg, which was founded in 1527, is one of the oldest German Universities and the first protestant one;
  • Among its students and alumni were E. Behring, who discovered a diphtheria antitoxin and whose life was actually tightly connected with Marburg, R. Bunsen, who discovered caesium and rubidium, and M. Lomonosow, a founder of Moscow State University;
  • Brothers Grimm, prominent linguists and lexicographers, known worldwide as storytellers of folk tales, also lived and studied in Marburg;
  • Marburg virus, which is (along with Ebola virus) a causative agent of hemorrhagic fever, was isolated and described here;
  • St. Elizabeth Church (about 800 old!) is held to be a model for the architecture of one of the most famous churches in the world – Cologne Cathedral.