The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds awards PhD fellowships to outstanding junior scientists (max. age: 27 years) who wish to pursue an ambitious PhD project of approximately 3 years in basic biomedical research in an internationally leading laboratory. 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. Applicants should not be older than 27 years at the respective deadline (1 February, 1 June, 1 October).
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 FUTURA, the international journal of the foundation. Natural scientists should have been awarded their diploma, BSc, MSc or equivalent degree; 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. The beginning of the PhD project is considered by BIF to be:
- the date of the final examination (e.g. BSc, MSc, Diploma, DEA, 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.
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. The Foundation gives preference to applicants who are about to begin their PhD work when they apply for the fellowship; preliminary results are not expected.
We do not support
- applied research, such as biotechnological and pharmaceutical development and 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;
- the PhD fellowships cannot be used to supplement inadequate funding from other institutions or earned incomes, to bridge temporary financial difficulties or to complete investigations already sponsored by other institutions.
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. 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.
PhD 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 project before taking up the fellowship, that period will be deducted from the maximum extension period. The basic monthly stipend amounts to 1,550 euros. In the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia, Israel, Canada, and Denmark, a further 300 euros, in Switzerland, a further 950 euros, and in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, a further 200 euros is added as 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 minor project-related costs (books, travel expenses, etc.) and to cover premiums for personal insurance. For example, the monthly stipend for an unmarried fellow working in Germany amounts to 1,900 euros, in the USA to 2,000 euros, and in Switzerland to 2,650 euros. A spouse allowance and/or child care allowance may be added; fellows can apply for 14 weeks paid maternity leave. 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 under certain 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 (www.bifonds.de) 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 sent by internet and
- two paper copies of the application including one CD to be sent by surface mail.
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, clearly labelled with applicant’s first name and family name should contain documents (1) - (7) preferably in one PDF or *.doc file. Please note, the foundation can process only PC files; Macintosh files therefore cannot be accepted.
Applicants can facilitate the selection process by adhering to the following sequence:
- Title and summary of PhD project (should not exceed one page);
- 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, 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 diploma or equivalent thesis which should not exceed one page;
- list of applicant’s publications (if applicable);
- certificates of all academic and public examinations and certificates of vocational qualifications (including grades);
- photocopies of university entrance qualification or high school-leaving exam certificate, (e.g. Abitur, A-levels, Baccalaureat);
- 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).
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 laboratories in which the project is to be pursued.
When making their decision, Board of Trustees and external peer reviewer seek answers to the following questions.
- Applicant’s achievements
What personal qualities has the applicant demonstrated during his/her training: top grades, talent and inquisitiveness, versatility and creativity, determination and motivation, diligence and perseverance? Has the applicant shown mobility or has he/she been rather settled? In the latter case, did he/she have sound reasons for not having changed country, university and/or supervisor? Is he/she capable of independent research? Does the applicant have a wide variety of techniques at his/her disposal?
- Quality of PhD project
Is the project imaginative and promising? Is it liable to yield new insights or is it a descriptive, industrious but uninspiring piece of work? Is the current state of knowledge correctly described and adequately documented? Are the methods of investigation state-of-the-art and sophisticated? Is the work schedule logical and realistic for a PhD project of about 3 years? Is the project really a research project in its own right or rather a subunit of a collaborative effort?
- Standard of the laboratories
Does the laboratory in which he/she wishes to pursue the PhD project have first-class equipment and use state-of-the-art techniques? Has the laboratory made significant contributions to the respective scientific field and does it have an international reputation in this field? In other words, is the laboratory one of the most suitable places worldwide for the project in question?
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, they are forwarded to the foundation’s Board of Trustees which includes six internationally renowned scientists.
Approximately 4 weeks after the application deadline, the Board of Trustees decides which applications are admitted to the entire evaluation process. Approximately 30% of the applications are successful in this first selection round (pre-selection) and are then sent to an independent external expert (peer reviewer) for additional evaluation. In addition, and whenever feasible, a member of the foundation’s staff visits the applicant 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. 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 selected in the first round 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’s are incontestable; and due to the large and ever-increasing number of applications, reasons for rejection are not given. Re-submission is possible, but only after consultation with the foundation.
For more information, please visit official website: www.bifonds.de.
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