Doctoral Programme


General Information

Established in April 2004, the doctoral programme of the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences leads to the degree of Dr. rer. nat. (Faculty of Biological Sciences) or Dr. med. (Faculty of Medicine). Additionally, the Medical Faculty offers the possibility to achieve a MD/PhD degree.

The main goal of the IZN is to promote the quality of science performed by its members, boost collaboration, provide joint service units, and contribute to the integration of basic and clinical neurosciences. Accordingly, the programme provides research opportunities in the fields of Neuroanatomy, Neurobiology, Clinical Neurobiology, Neurophysiology, Developmental Neuroscience, Behavioural Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience and Medical Cell Biology.

Applicants must hold a Master's, Diploma or equivalent degree.

Guidelines and requirements for the doctoral thesis are set forth in the „Promotionsordnung“ of the University of Heidelberg for the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine. The „Promotionsordung“ stipulates that all doctoral students of the Faculty of Biological Sciences are obliged to participate in a doctoral student programme.

The language of the doctoral programme is English.

Thesis Supervision

In addition to day-to-day supervision, each doctoral student has a thesis advisory committee consisting of the leader of the group in which a majority of the thesis work is conducted, and two additional advisors, who supervise the student’s research. The two additional advisors are each required to hold doctorate but may otherwise come from institutions outside the university such as the MPI, the DKFZ, the EMBL, or the ZI Mannheim.

Each student is required annually to provide his or her thesis advisory committee with a report on the progress of the thesis as well as to conduct an oral presentation of his or her work.

Financial Support

Full time doctoral students will be funded by predoctoral fellowships provided by e.g. the University, the University Clinic, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB1158, see also here for stipends), HBIGS or by fellowships applied for and obtained by the student on an individual basis.


If required, doctoral students will be assigned as advisors for practical courses.


Doctoral students may collaborate with members of other groups within the IZN as well as with members of groups from other institutes (e.g. the DKFZ) in order to acquire particular methodological expertise required for their thesis work.


Foreign students are encouraged to take advantage of German language instruction for Foreign Students and Guest Scientists offered by the Internationales Studienzentrum: College for German Language and Culture and College for Foreign Students

Graduate Academy

The Graduate Academy of the University of Heidelberg supports and fosters Heidelberg University doctoral candidates and postdocs. It is the central coordinating body for all support services related to general advising, professional and academic development and financial assistance for doctoral candidates and postdocs at Heidelberg University.
On their website, you will find information about pursuing a doctoral degree at the University, about the courses offered by the Graduate Academy, about sources of funding for doctoral candidates and postdocs as well as many other relevant topics.

IZN Doctoral Programme (IZN Doktorandenprogramm)

Course Work

The following list provides an overview of lectures, seminars and courses available for students of the IZN doctoral programme.

Obligatory activities are marked by an asterisk *

Programme requirements will be confirmed as having been fulfilled by the advising groupleader or lecturer and recorded in a protocol provided to the student upon being accepted for doctoral studies in the Faculty of Biological Sciences. After finishing the thesis, the completed protocol must be signed by the programme coordinator and presented to the Dekanat in order to register for the final doctoral examination. Any doctoral student who has not completed all doctoral programme requirements will not be allowed to take the examination.


A. Seminars

  • *IZN Seminars: Progress in Neuroscience, fortnightly

  • *Research seminars, weekly.  According to the progress of his or her work, each doctoral student will present 3-4 reports annually in the respective research seminars of his/her group.

  • *Seminar series "Heidelberg Neurobiology Lectures" with invited speakers, fortnightly


B. *Methods Courses (4 courses are obligatory)

Please contact directly the IZN investigator who is offering the method course.


Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim (CIMH)

  • Neural data analysis practical (D. Durstewitz) precondition: BCCN-lecture
  • Neural systems computer simulation practical (D. Durstewitz) precondition: BCCN-lecture
  • Psychological and psychobiological methods in cognitive neuroscience, (H. Flor; Ansprechpartner: Dr. Susanne Becker)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation in the assessment and modulation of human perception, (H. Flor; Ansprechpartner: Dr. Jamila Andoh)
  • Viral vectors for anatomy and physiology of brain circuits -starting from 2021- (Valery Grinevich)


Center for Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBMT)

  • Calcium imaging in DRG neurons and heterologous expression systems (R.-D. Treede)


Centre for Organismal Studies Heidelberg (COS)

  • Exploring ion channel properties with the patch-clamp method (S. Frings)
  • Quantitative PCR (S. Frings)


Clinical Neurobiology (Neurology and DKFZ)

  • In vitro and in vivo "electrophysiological recording in the hippocampus (H. Monyer)
  • Paired recordings from connected neurons in brain slices (H. Monyer)
  • Automation of behavioral experiments for rodents (K. Allen)
  • Extracellular recordings in behaving animals (K. Allen)
  • Data analysis in neuroscience (K. Allen)

European Center for Angioscience (ECAS) - Medical Faculty Mannheim (University Heidelberg)

  • Ex vivo cerebellar electroporation and culture of organotypic cerebellar slices (C. Ruiz de Almodóvar)
  • Isolation and culture of brain endotelial cells (C. Ruiz de Almodóvar)


Institut of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB)

  • Immunohostochemistry and confocal imaging (U. Müller)
  • Design of AAV vectors and demo of intracranial injections (U. Müller)


Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology

  • Electrophysiological analysis of synaptic function and small oscillating networks. Methods: Patch clamp, intracellular recording, extracellular recording, tetrodes, in vivo recording, advanced data analysis. (A. Draguhn)
  • Preparation of organotypic hippocampal slice cultures (O. Kann)
  • Electrophysiology: gamma oscillations in slice cultures (O. Kann)


Mannheim Center for Translational Neuroscience (MCTN), Neurophysiology

  • Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in brain slices using infrared video microscopy (G. Köhr)
  • Multi-electrode array (MEA) and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neurons (G. Köhr)


Medical Cell Biology

  • Preparation and culture of primary neurons (J. Kirsch)
  • Video-imaging of neuron cultures (J. Kirsch)
  • Transmission electron microscopy (J. Kirsch)
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy (J. Kirsch)
  • Quantitative PCR (C. Bas Orth)



  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy (H. Bading)
  • Preparation and culture of primary neurons (H. Bading)
  • Transmission electron microscopy (H. Bading)
  • Video-imaging of neuron cultures (H. Bading)
  • Electrophysiology (H. Bading)
  • Isolation and in vitro culture of neural stem cells (F. Ciccolini)
  • Fluorocytometry (F. Ciccolini)
  • Behavioral tests in learning and memory research (A.M. Oliveira)
  • Drosophila molecular and classical genetics (C. Schuster)
  • Associative learning and memory (C. Schuster)
  • Functional Imaging – calcium and FM 1-43 (C. Schuster)
  • Electrophysiology – Intracellular current clamp recordings (C. Schuster)



  • The secrets of human glioma stem cell cultivation (G. Herold-Mende)



  • Non-radiocative in situ mRNA hybridisation (R. Kuner)




C. *IZN-Retreat

Lectures with invited speakers and poster presentations of the doctoral students, 2-3 days


* = Obligatory activity

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Latest Revision: 2020-03-03
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