The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds awards Ph.D. fellowships to outstanding junior scientists who wish to pursue an ambitious Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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. Read more under personal support and conditions.
Conditions for Ph.D. Fellowships:
Grantees can take up their Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) fellowship by sending us their signed fellowship conditions, desired start date, and details of their bank account. The fellowship expires if not taken up within 6 months of the date of the letter of approval.
The basic monthly stipend amounts to 1,550 euros. In most countries, fellows are paid an additional flat rate of 150 euros per month to cover minor research-related costs (books, travel expenses, etc.). To adjust e.g. for differences in living costs, country-related premiums of up to 1,700 euros may be added (in the United Kingdom currently 700 euros, in the USA and Denmark 800 euros, in Australia, Israel, and Canada 500 euros, in Switzerland 1,700 euros, and in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden 200 euros).
Depending on the cost of living, all other countries are grouped into one of these categories. For example, an unmarried fellow working in Germany currently receives 1,900 euros, in the USA 2,500 euros, in the United Kingdom 2,400 euros, and in Switzerland 3,400 euros.
Furthermore, a spouse allowance of 200 euros, a child allowance of 200 euros per child and/or childcare allowance of up to 500 euros may be added depending on the personal situation.
The initially awarded stipend sum is based on the information provided in the application. The fellowship holder is obligated to inform BIF about any changes in his/her personal or financial circumstances (change of marital status, income of spouse, etc.) so that BIF can adjust the amount of the stipend. The stipend is transferred in euros by the middle of each month.
In addition, fellowship holders can apply for travel allowances to present their research projects at international scientific conferences, to participate in methods courses, or to perform research in cooperating laboratories. Besides, BIF offers its fellows and alumni exclusive meetings, seminars, and training.
Ph.D. fellowships are granted for 24 months and can be extended once for a maximum of 12 months. However, if the fellow began work on his/her Ph.D. before taking up the fellowship, that period will be deducted from the maximum extension period. The beginning of the PhD work is considered by BIF to be the date of the final examination on the official certificate (e.g. BSc, MSc, Diploma, DEA, Licenciatura, Laurea) if the fellow continued to work in the same research group, or the date of arrival at the Ph.D. laboratory if the fellow changed research groups.
In the event of illness, BIF usually 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.
Who Can Apply?
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) awards Ph.D. fellowships to European citizens working in Europe or overseas, and to non-European citizens pursuing their Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. work; preliminary project results are not expected from applicants. The beginning of the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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/ Ph.D. programmes or graduate schools without an official final examination prior to the Ph.D. project, please contact us.
If a laboratory presents 2 candidates for a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. programmes, but only for the duration of the Ph.D. project.
For examples of projects that we do and do not support please see the PDF “What we do and do not fund“.
In case you are not sure if your project fits into the scope of support, you are welcome to contact us.
Application for a Ph.D. Fellowship:
The application for a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 fulfill 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 Ph.D. 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 a 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.
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 Ph.D. project;
- the scientific standard of the laboratory in which the project is to be pursued.
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.