The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds awards PhD fellowships to outstanding junior scientists who wish to pursue an ambitious PhD project of approximately 3 years in basic biomedical research in an internationally leading laboratory. For further details please refer to “Who can apply?”. The peer-review-based selection process is highly competitive. Applicants should therefore be outstanding in all three selection criteria.
To promote basic research in biomedicine by providing the best young, up-and-coming scientists with comprehensive support during their PhD phase.
More than a monthly stipend
The fellowship comprises a competitive monthly stipend that is initially granted for 2 years and that can be extended for up to another 12 months. Participation in international scientific conferences is also supported. In addition, fellowship holders are offered personal support, seminars to discuss their projects, communication training and alumni meetings, and thus can become part of a worldwide network.
Timing and selection
Deadlines of application: 1 February, 1 June, 1 October of each year. Pre-selection takes place about 4 weeks after the respective deadline, and the final selection approximately 5 months after the respective deadline
Who Can Apply for a PhD Fellowship?
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) awards PhD fellowships to European citizens working in Europe or overseas, and to non-European citizens pursuing their PhD project in Europe. At the respective deadline (1 February, 1 June, 1 October) the applicant's first university degree qualifying for a profession (e.g. BSc, Diploma, Final State Examination) must not have been achieved more than 4 years ago.
The PhD project must be experimental, in the field of basic biomedical research and aimed at elucidating basic biological phenomena of human life and acquiring new scientific knowledge. For a survey on the range of topics, please refer to the results of finished projects in FUTURA, the international journal of the foundation. Natural scientists should have been awarded their ultimate university degree (diploma, MSc, BSc, or equivalent). Students who have not yet finished their MSc studies, i.e. who cannot provide their MSc certificate at the deadline, can only apply when they are able to hand in their certificate within 4 months after the deadline. Physicians, veterinary surgeons and pharmacists should have passed their state examinations.
At the deadline, the applicant should not have been working on his/her project for more than 6 months. BIF encourages applicants to apply for a fellowship when they are about to begin their PhD work; preliminary project results are not expected from applicants. The beginning of the PhD project is considered by BIF to be:
- the date of the final degree examination (e.g. BSc, MSc, Diploma, Licenciatura, Laurea) on the official certificate if the applicant continues to work in the same research group; or
- the month of arrival at the laboratory in which the PhD project is pursued if the applicant changes his/her research group, irrespective of the project he/she starts to work on.
In other cases, i.e. when participating in MSc/PhD programmes or graduate schools without an official final examination prior to the PhD project, please contact us.
If a laboratory presents 2 candidates for a PhD fellowship at the same application deadline, only one of them can receive a fellowship. This is why we would highly recommend that candidates from the same laboratory apply at different deadlines.
We do not support
- applied research, such as biotechnological and pharmaceutical development (e.g. development of assays for diagnostic purposes or drug screening; optimization or screening of substances/compounds for therapeutic use; development of drug delivery systems or vaccines);
- studies on the course of diseases or the treatment of symptoms;
- botanical and prokaryotic investigations unless they are of general biological importance;
- education; we can support only research; fellowships therefore cannot be used during the course and rotation phase of PhD programmes, but only for the duration of the PhD project.
Conditions for PhD Fellowships
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds must be notified if an application is submitted to any other research-sponsoring institution. Should an applicant take up an award from another institution prior to the decision of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, the application to the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds is considered withdrawn, and the foundation must be notified immediately.
Please note that only written notification is legally binding and that the decisions of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds are incontestable. The fellowship expires if not taken up within 6 months of notification.
On accepting the PhD fellowship, the fellowship holder agrees to the following conditions:
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds does not intervene in the work of fellows who, in turn, are obligated to make proper use of the allocated funds and to adhere to the rules of good scientific practice. Each fellow must devote his/her whole energy to his/her particular PhD project. In the laboratory, fellows should only be assigned to tasks directly connected to their PhD projects.
If a fellow decides to change the topic of the PhD project or the laboratory, he/she must inform the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds without delay. In the event of the project being successfully completed prior to expiry of the fellowship, payment will be discontinued.
The basic monthly stipend amounts to 1,550 euros. In the United Kingdom, a further 700 euros, in the USA and Denmark, a further 800 euros, in Australia, Israel, and Canada, a further 500 euros, in Switzerland, a further 1,700 euros, and in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, a further 200 euros are added as a country-related premium. Depending on the cost of living, all other countries are grouped into one of these categories. In most countries, fellows are paid an additional flat rate of 150 euros per month to cover premiums for personal insurance and minor project-related costs (books, travel expenses, etc.). For example, the monthly stipend for an unmarried fellow working in Germany amounts to 1,900 euros, in the USA to 2,500 euros, in the United Kingdom to 2,400 euros, and in Switzerland to 3,400 euros. A spouse allowance, child allowance and/or childcare allowance may be added. The stipend is transferred to the fellow's personal bank account by the middle of each month.
Tuition, bench fees and overheads are not reimbursed by the foundation.
The fellowship is intended to cover the living expenses of the recipient. A Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds stipend may therefore not be held while receiving a regular personal income from any other institution or research institute. Any employment or other contracts yielding a regular income must be cancelled upon accepting the PhD fellowship. However, an additional fellowship from another institution to cover exclusively tuition fees may be accepted. Please contact the foundation under these circumstances.
The initially awarded stipend sum is based on the information provided in the application. The fellowship holder is obligated to inform the foundation about any changes in his/her personal or financial circumstances (change of marital status, income of spouse, etc.) so that the foundation can adjust the size of the stipend.
Fellowships awarded by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds do not constitute any form of employment. In Germany (EstG §3 No. 44) and in countries that maintain a double-taxation agreement with Germany, fellowships are exempt from tax. A fellowship is not considered to be remuneration as defined by Article 14 of the German Social Law IV and is therefore not liable to social insurance. Provision of laws governing formation of capital, saving premiums and residential building premiums do not apply. The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds does not provide any kind of insurance for its fellowship holders. They must insure themselves and their families against any possible costs and consequences caused by illness, accident, personal liability, etc.
In the event of illness, the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds continues payments for 2 months, after which time assistance would cease. Upon recovery, the fellowship may be extended by the period of absence due to illness.
Fellowship holders are expected to supply reprints of all publications prepared with the foundation's assistance. Furthermore, they must present a project report for publication in FUTURA, the foundation's international journal, at the beginning of the fellowship and a final report no later than 2 months after the PhD examination (defence).
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds reserves the right to reclaim any surplus payment or money paid in error. Furthermore, the foundation may cancel the fellowship and demand repayment if the fellowship was obtained under false pretences or not used for its intended purpose, if the obligation to submit the final report is not fulfilled, or for any other sound reason.
To process the fellowship holders' applications and to provide continuous support, the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds gathers and electronically stores the data submitted by applicants. These data include personal information (name, address, date of birth, nationality, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the fellowship holders) as well as information on the PhD project and the support granted.
The foundation may publish the names of fellowship holders, their places of work, their thesis titles and abstracts on the web and in printed publications.
Application for a PhD Fellowship
The application for a PhD fellowship of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds consists of two parts:
- the online application via the online application portal and
- two paper copies of the application including one CD to be sent by regular mail to: Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Schusterstr. 46-48, 55116 Mainz, Germany
Both must be submitted by one of the respective deadlines of each year (date as per postmark for the paper version): 1 February, 1 June, 1 October
The entire application - including the project proposal - must be written in English and by the applicants themselves. However, we recommend consultation with the scientific supervisor. The form of the presentation should be adequate but simple; please do not staple, tack or bind documents.
The two paper copies should contain all the data and documents listed under (1) – (9). The CD should be clearly labelled with applicant's first name, family name and email address and contain documents (1) - (7), preferably in one PDF file.
Applicants can facilitate the selection process by adhering to the following sequence:
1. to 5. two-sided printouts, if possible;
- title and summary of PhD project (max. 1,400 characters including blanks);
- detailed presentation of PhD project (please also refer to "How to write a research proposal"): formulation of the problem, current status of research, applicant's own groundwork, objectives, experimental strategy including methods of investigation (at least 4-5 pages for strategy and methods), work schedule showing the anticipated duration of the entire project and the individual steps;
- reasons for wishing to work with a particular group;
- summary of final experimental thesis (e.g. bachelor, diploma or master thesis) before embarking on the PhD project; if no final experimental thesis was performed please give the reason(s) in the “additional information” field in the online application;
- list of applicant’s publications (if applicable);
- certificates of all academic qualifications (including grades) and certificates of professional education prior to university (if applicable); in chronological order, the newest on top; photocopies suffice;
- photocopies of university entrance qualification or high school-leaving exam certificate, (e.g. Abitur, A levels, Baccalaureate);
- letter of recommendation from the supervisor of the PhD thesis;
- letter of recommendation from the supervisor of the diploma or equivalent thesis (only if changing research group for the PhD project); if no final experimental thesis was performed, letter of recommendation from the supervisor of the most important laboratory internship; letters of recommendation (on official letterhead and signed) have to be written in English and may be sent together with the application, or by the supervisors themselves via regular mail to Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Schusterstr. 46-48, 55116 Mainz, Germany, or via email as a PDF attachment to secretariat[at]bifonds[dot]de
Selection Process for PhD Fellowships
What happens to your application?
Once both your online application and the paper version of your application have been received by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, we check whether your application meets all formal criteria.
Applications that fulfil the eligibility criteria are forwarded to the foundation’s Board of Trustees for pre-selection. In the pre-selection, the Board of Trustees incl. six internationally renowned scientists evaluates each application according to the three most important criteria: (1) the applicant's achievements to date (grades and curriculum vitae), (2) whether the proposed PhD project meets the overall requirements (e.g. topic and required scientific quality), and (3) the scientific standard of the laboratory where the project is to be pursued. About 4 weeks after the application deadline, the Board members meet and decide which applications are admitted to the final selection process. Approximately 25% of the applications reach the final selection and are sent to independent external experts (peer reviewers) for additional evaluation. In addition, and whenever feasible, a member of the foundation's staff visits the applicant for a personal interview at his/her place of work and submits a written report to the Board of Trustees.
Application, evaluation of the external expert and the report on the personal interview are then scrutinized by the foundation's Board of Trustees (read more under selection criteria). The Board convenes three times a year and, after detailed discussion of each application, makes its decision. Approximately 15 fellowships are awarded at each Board meeting. The final decision on the applications is reached approximately 5 months after the deadline.
After each Board meeting, the foundation promptly informs the applicants of the outcome. Please note that only written notification is legally binding. The decisions of the Board are incontestable; and due to the large and ever-increasing number of applications, reasons for rejection cannot be given. Re-submission is possible only under certain circumstances, and only after consultation with the foundation.
Selection Process for PhD Fellowships
The scientists in the Board of Trustees and the external peer reviewer evaluate applications according to the following three criteria:
- the applicant's achievements to date (grades and curriculum vitae);
- the scientific quality, e.g. originality and inventiveness, of the proposed PhD project;
- the scientific standard of the laboratory in which the project is to be pursued.
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