picture of self-made doctoral hat

Main characteristics of the MD/PhD program


The MD/PhD program "Molecular Medicine" at Hannover Medical School recruits students holding a M.Sc. or equivalent degree in medicine, veterinary medicine or natural sciences. Students work independently in a project-oriented training program with an average study period of three years. Our PhD program strives to form a "bridge" between basic sciences and clinics, enabling students to further their abilities in research and teaching. The cohort size is limited to ~20 students per year. Detailed information on the content, structure and course of study can be found in the following sections.


The MD/PhD program is integrated into the Hannover Biomedical Research School (graduate school) since October 2003.


The program was fully accreditated according to European standards as the first PhD program in Germany in December 2003 (credits: ECTS; see Bologna process)! But ECTS certificates are only issued upon request as meanwhile Europe decided that accreditation is not applicable for PhD programs.  


Target Group

We are looking for highly qualified  medical and  veterinary doctors and graduates of natural science (such as Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology). An above average level of performance is expected from all applicants, and the curriculum vitae should reveal a prominent ability and motivation for scientific work. At least some independent research experience (6-months of bench work) is required, as demonstrated in the description of a former research project.

(Application, from December 1st to March 1st)


Aims of the PhD Program "Molecular Medicine"

The curriculum of the PhD program offers students the possibility to develop an in-depth understanding of methods beyond their individual fields of expertise, and to gain important experience in interdisciplinary cooperation. They will learn to develop their communication skills, to ask provoking scientific questions and to organize complex research data. In the course of their scientific work, carried out under proper guidance, they will develop a strong foundation which will enable them to make significant advances in later stages of their career, for instance as head of a junior research group.

Our PhD program also features adequate quality control, providing three-way feedback from the HBRS, students and supervisors. The amalgation of basic research techniques and clinical questions will broaden the knowledge of students with a medical background, and likewise, provide students with a natural science background with the clinical perspective of working in translational research.



A PhD degree (alternatively Dr.rer.nat for life scientists) will be awarded after successful completion of the program. (see PhD rules)


All students are financially secured primarily by support of the respective supervisor (around 1.600 - 1.700 Euro/month for 3-4 years).

You will either receive a stipend or are employed with MHH. Please see here for detailed info.

In addition, a limited number of grants will be awarded from Hannover Biomedical Research School or internal funds.

Of course, the MD/PhD program is always seeking for sponsors for financial support of our students or events. Our retreat are for example always sponsored by the company Octapharma GmbH.  Please contact us!



A great variety of projects are available, as most of the departments/labs at MHH and regional institutes in the molecular field are part of our MD/PhD program Molecular Medicine.

Students have a free choice of projects once they are selected for the program.

To get an idea of projects, please browse the "students" section.



In the first phase of the program, basic Immunology, Virology, Microbiology, Genetics, Cell Biology and Biochemistry are taught in cooperation with other PhD programs in HBRS as well as partner institutes. In addition, medical students will receive an introduction to basic scientific methods such as molecular and cell biological techniques, while students with scientific qualifications will deal extensively with medical research topics. The aim is to achieve approximately the same level of knowledge despite different entry qualifications. This first part of the course is normally completed after 18 months with an intermediate examination.

In the second phase, the main focus lies on clinical/ applied aspects and project-oriented research, leading both to the completion of the thesis and to publication of the obtained results in international journals. In this phase, periods of research necessary for the performance of the research project may be spent in partner institutes both in Germany and abroad.

During the 3-year study period, all students have to attend about 80 hours of project-oriented seminars/courses as well as 60 hours of interdisciplinary seminars/courses. Great emphasis is placed on soft skills such as ‘Presentation techniques', ‘Scientific writing', ‘Research ethics', ‘Gene technology safety', ‘Animal experiments' as well as career perspectives. Excursions to industry also take place regularly.

See below and The ABC of the MD/PhD program.

Scientific Exposure
Students present their research projects at an annual retreat and are encouraged to participate in international scientific meetings and conferences.

Two publications as first author in international peer-reviewd journals are desired for the admittance to the PhD final examination. The PhD examination generally takes place at the end of the third year.


PhD students are individually supervised by experts selected by the MD/PhD Program Committee. Each students has one main supervisor and two co-supervisors from different departments/institutes , forming a thesis advisory group. This group of supervisors continuously monitors the PhD student throughout the program through reports and intermittent feedback. An advisory meeting usually takes place at least once a year, usually before the annual retreat.

Research projects feature a clearly defined topic using suitable methods, with a realistic prospect of success and publication in international peer-reviewed journals. The PhD Commission ensures that students are not laden with menial tasks not related to the PhD. The supervisors will also advise the PhD students on career planning.

The main supervisor provides all facilities necessary for performing the PhD thesis (including lab bench, computers) and are responsible for the financing of the research project and for sponsorship of the PhD student assigned to them during the 3-4 year PhD study period. Students usually receive a stipend or salary of about 1500,- to 1600,- Euro/month. "Children money" is also available. The HBRS committee will supervise the distribution of any extra available funds.


The MD/PhD program leverages on longstanding cooperation with the Leibniz University of Hannover. In addition, there are various cooperation partners, such as the Helmholtz Institute for Infection Research, HZI, Braunschweig; IPF PharmaCeuticals GmbH (IPF), Hannover; Fraunhofer-Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Hannover (ITEM); and the TwinCore Hannover.

International cooperation partners include several scientists in India, in Europe (Karolinska Institute Stockholm, University of Dundee, University of Helsinki, Imperial College of London) and numerous international partners in the individual research projects.



Hannover Medical School has excellent facilities for students from the PhD programs.

Platforms (core units) have been established at MHH and partner institutes to provide up-to-date technologies and support (e. g. gene expression profiling, experimental animal work, confocal microscopy for in vivo imaging, and proteomics).

A huge library with relevant textbooks and journals is available (and about 20 computer working places).

The Hannover Biomedical Research School (HBRS) has its own seminar rooms.

There are three cafeterias and a mensa on campus.

International students in the MD/PhD program can be accomodated in a students' hostel nearby.


Orientation weeks

At the beginning of October, students are given assistance with all relevant administration (housing, bank, insurance, enrolment). Other highlights include guided tours, excursions, culture shock seminars, a German crash course, and an international party.


English is the main language of the program. German courses are offered to our international students (beginners A1 and advanced A2). And we offer a course on "English Scientific Conversation".


Academic Year

Winter Semester 2023/2024

Start: 09.10.2023  End: 29.02.2024

PhD intermediate examination: by February 29th (TwinCore retreat March 7th/8th, 2024)


Summer Semester 2024

Start: 08.04.2024  End: 17.07.2024


Curriculum 2023/24 !!


In the first 18 months of the course, up to the intermediate examination, participants of the PhD program should acquire a general consolidation of the natural scientific and fundamental principles of biomedical research, so that by the time of the intermediate examination, all participants in the program achieve approximately the same level of theoretical and practical knowledge, despite different qualifications on entry.

In the second part of the PhD Program, more emphasis is then placed on the project-specific qualification. Time spend abroad during the PhD Program will be recognized if the curriculum content at the guest university is equivalent to the PhD curriculum and has been certified as such.


Note: the detailed Curriculum is displayed elsewhere. Here, you only see a selection of the topics covered!!


Since 2004, we have a joint Curriculum in the Hannover Biomedical Research School (HBRS)!!


1. Compulsory Activities

1.1. Lecture series "Basics in Molecular Medicine"

(3 SWS (Semesterwochenstunden = hours a week) in the first year)

List of topics:

  1. Basic properties of biological macromolecules (lipids, membranes, nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates)
  2. Techniques for studying biopolymers (recombinant DNA techniques, spectroscopy etc.)
  3. Protein-protein interactions
  4. Basal genetic mechanisms
  5. Chromosome structure and gene regulation
  6. Flow of genetic information
  7. The cytoskeleton
  8. Microscopic techniques
  9. Membrane transport of small molecules
  10. Receptors and signal transduction
  11. Cell cycle and oncogenesis
  12. Human Gene finding
  13. Medical Genomics
  14. Development of the immune system (stem cells)
  15. Innate immunity
  16. Chemokines
  17. Antigen processing and presentation
  18. Medical microbiology
  19. Virology
  20. Vaccinology
  21. Molecular Epidemiology
  22. Basics in Bioinformatics

With the participation of lecturers from:  

Molecular Biology, Human Genetics, Fraunhofer Institute Hannover, Biochemistry, Immunology, HZI Braunschweig, Pathology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Virology, Hematology and Oncology, Pediatrics and many more!


1.2. Lecture series "Specific and applied aspects of Molecular Medicine"

(3 SWS in the second year)

With the participation of lecturers from the clinical departments of Hannover Medical School and other partner institutes

In the second year, students choose two of the four major foci: Immunology; Infection; Oncology/Differentiation; Genetics/Cell Biology/Biochemistry  


Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Virus hepatitis: from molecular biology to therapy

Hematology and Oncology: Cytokine-receptor-signal transduction in myeloproliferative diseases

Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery: Modern methods of liver replacement therapy, Cardiovascular tissue engeneering

Cardiology: Molecular biology of chronic cardiac insufficiency, Molecular fundamental principles of arteriosclerosis and inflammation

Clinical Immunology: Immune response in the example of HIV infection, Fc-mediated mechanisms in autoimmune disease

Dermatology: Immunobiology of eczematous skin diseases

Immunology: Functional organization of lymphoid organs

Gene therapy: Stem cells, regulations of transgenes in somatic cells, embryonic and somatic cloning in mammals, Safety and efficiency in the use of viral vectors for gene therapy

Microbiology: Pathogenicity of enterohemorhagic E.coli

Molecular Biology: T-box genes in development and disease

Nephrology: Mechanisms of ischemia reperfusion injury

Pediatric Hematology and Oncology: Inborn errors of hematopoiesis, Acute childhood leukemias, Modulation of the immune response

Pediatric Pneumology: Genetics of cystic fibrosis

Pediatric Metabolic Diseases: Cytokine expression and polymorphisms in kidney diseases in children

Pathology: Epigenetics of cancer

Virology: Virus-associated oncogenesis


2. Specific Activities (Optional activities)

2.1 Experimental Techniques:

  • Classic and molecular tumor cytogenetics
  • Quantitative analysis of protein and peptide interactions
  • Immunological methods in cell biology
  • Introduction to molecular pathology
  • Fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) in the diagnosis of hematological diseases
  • Animal experimental methods (introduction)
  • Animal experimental methods (specific courses)


2.2 Special Seminars:

  • Molecular biological aspects of hepato- and gastroenterology
  • Molecular genetic diagnosis of hereditary diseases
  • Aspects of molecular medicine
  • Gene expression and growth control
  • Lasers in biology, medicine and environmental research
  • Quantitative biology: biophysical examples from medicine and biology
  • Molecular genetics of development


2.3 Fundamental principles of statistical methods

Biometry, bioinformatics, biostatistics

2.4 Communications, Internet 

  • Scientific communications
  • Electronic information and communications in medicine
  • multimedia
  • Scientific English

2.5 Radiation protection

2.7 Gene technological security

2.8 Introduction to ethics

  • Ethical cases in medicine
  • Ethical aspects of gene technology
  • Scientific ethics


3. Other Courses

3.1 General (Optional courses) 

  • Seminar series of the SFBs
  • Immunology Colloquium
  • Molecular Biology Colloquium
  • Gastroenterology Colloquium
  • Biochemistry Colloquium
  • Microbiology Colloquium


3.2 Within the Departments (compulsory attendance) 

  • Seminars for doctoral students
  • Journal Clubs (These courses are to be held in English)


4. Practical Training for PhD Students in the Supervising Department

(Optional courses, not counted)

The supervisors will, on request, provide practical training in special methods for a period of several days to several weeks.


Extracurricular activities

A number of extracurricular activities like excursions, visit to Christmas market, cultural events (theatre, concert, circus) and international parties are organized regularly throughout the year.

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