The International Max Planck Research School "Principles of Microbial Life: From molecules to cells, from cells to interactions" is a joint initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO), and the University of Marburg. The school aims to provide students with state-of-the-art interdisciplinary scientific training in modern microbiology, leading to a PhD degree.

We are looking for scientists with a Master's (or equivalent) degree in biology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, chemistry, chemical biology, physics, biophysics or another relevant field.

The ambition of the this programme is to provide students with a molecular understanding of cellular processes that allow microbes to compete, adapt and differentiate in their natural environments, and also to illustrate how microbes can be used in systems and synthetic biology. This requires integration of environmental, cellular, and molecular aspects of microbiology with quantitative and biotechnological approaches. The microorganisms we study include bacteria, archaea, fungi and microalgae, covering the following research areas: 

  • Cellular organisation & architecture

  • Physiology & metabolism

  • Microbial communities & interactions

  • Host-microbe interactions

  • Signal transduction & information processing

  • Systems & synthetic biology


The three-year PhD programme aims to equip students with first class education through an individually tailored curriculum, accompanied by joint seminars and colloquia, workshops and courses, and scientific retreats. Important aims of this curriculum are to provide different perspectives on the microbiology research and to introduce a wide range of techniques that can be applied in microbiology, as well as to foster interactions among students.

Students of the school are selected in a competitive selection procedure once per year. The application period starts in December and ends on January 31st; the study programme starts in October.