Promotion of early career researchers

The promotion of young investigators at all levels of their careers is an important goal of the ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence. To this end, we have developed a multilayered Promotion Concept. The concept consists of four layers to provide training and funding alongside all career steps from PhD student to tenured professor. (i) For the training of graduate students, the international graduate program ImmunoSensation is established. One branch of ImmunoSensation focuses on Nervous-Immune Systems Interaction and is jointly organized with the Edmond and Lily Safra Center of Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (ii) For post doctoral fellows, a scientific exchange program is available with partners of the International Innate Immunity Consortium. The program aims to broaden scientific views by interacting with internationally renowned groups in the field of innate immunity and to gain key expertise on technical innovations. (iii) Dedicated advanced postdocs are encouraged to become young group leaders. A competitive application for funding from the Excellence Cluster funding program ForImmun allows the establishment of small research groups to initiate independent scientific careers. (iv) For exceptionally talented junior group leaders, the tenure track at the University of Bonn will be used after a positive external evaluation.

BIGS Immunosciences and Infection

Members of the Excellence Cluster (LIMES, Medical Faculty, DZNE) are responsible for the cluster-specific international graduate program  BIGSImmunosciences and Infection. It provides a common framework for all PhD students in the fields of immunology and infectious disease. Its programs include the International Immunology Training Program Bonn (IITB) established in 2013 by ImmunoSensation, the International Research Training Group on Immunology IRTG 2168and other international PhD student exchange programs. This structured 3-year graduate program is open for students who have completed bachelor/master programs in Molecular Biomedicine or related disciplines. An important goal is to recruit talented students from abroad. The LIMES under-graduate study program, Molecular Biomedicine, and the LIMES international graduate school, Life & Medical Sciences, in which members of LIMES, Medical Faculty and DZNE participate as teaching staff, highlight the ongoing success of young investigator education and training.

The ImmunoSensation graduate program offers a structured program on innate immunity including:

  • seminar series
  • meet-the-expert events
  • scientific method courses
  • scientific soft skills training
  • participation in international conferences
  • short-term fellowships
  • Winter School on Innate Immunity and other retreats
  • a mentoring program
  • visits to biotech companies
  • career counseling

For more detailed information, please visit the BIGS Immunosciences and Infection Homepage.

Flexible funding programs ForImmun and BONFOR

Young scientists can benefit from flexible funding programs. These include ForImmun and Central Gender Funds. ForImmun will be established as a flexible funding program of the ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence. It will support the efforts of the Medical Faculty, LIMES and DZNE to promote their young researchers.

The Excellence Cluster’s steering committee selects and council promising projects within the five research areas for funding by ForImmun. ForImmun implements the following funding instruments: scholarships for PhD students, stipends for postdocs, promotion of young investigators, and junior research groups. This competitive recruitment and funding strategy of the cluster creates an attractive environment for the best young researchers on an international scale.

BONFOR is an already existing young investigator research program of the Medical Faculty ( and serves as a role model for the ForImmun program. The Medical Faculty provides funds to support highly motivated young scientists, by offering student stipends, start-up grants, Gerok-stipends for clinicians, young investigator support and BONFOR bonus payments. BONFOR supports young researchers towards independent DFG funding at a high success rate.

Else-Kröner clinician-scientist program

The ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence is basic-research oriented, from biophysical and biochemical analysis of the molecules to animal models of sterile inflammation and basic clinical research studies in humans. A strategic decision was made by the Medical Faculty to complement the ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence with a large new program to support young clinician scientists at the University Hospital in Bonn for projects directly related to the cluster topic (Else-Kröner-Forschungskolleg: Innate Immunity of Chronic Organ Dysfunction).

This program was established in May 2011 and has a total budget of 5.5 Mill Euro for five years. This program finances exclusively young clinician scientists (competitive internal and external recruitment into the program) who committed themselves to a combined research and clinical career. Funding includes the position of the clinician scientist, additional personnel and consumables. Clinician scientists will preferentially work in the laboratories of the cluster members. This guarantees a close interaction and fruitful collaboration of clinicians and basic scientists. Both coordinator (Jörg Kalff) and deputy coordinator (Gunther Hartmann) of this program are members of the cluster ImmunoSensation. This program expands on a long tradition of successful collaboration of basic scientists and clinicians at the Medical Faculty of Bonn.