Notes for Applicants: Postdoctoral Awards

Important information
  • Applicants to the MDC Fellowship Committee must independently find an MDC group leader who would be willing to accept them for the duration of the programme.  Please do not begin an application without this prior confirmation.

Program objective  

  • The overriding criteria governing the selection process are the scientific excellence of the proposed project and the qualifications of the candidate.
  • Only individuals are supported.
  • Postdoctoral awards should foster scientific exchange. Therefore, candidates from other institutions will be favoured.


  • The candidate must hold a doctoral qualification with at least the German grade of "magna cum laude" or its direct academic equivalent.
  • The candidate should not apply to work in the research group where his / her doctoral research was conducted.
  • The candidate should not have previously worked as a member of scientific staff in the proposed research group (with the exception of bridging financing until the outcome of the current application process is reached).
  • Candidates who have held their doctoral degree for a number of years should demonstrate a first author publication in an internationally recognised journal or an equivalent manuscript.
  • The provision of appropriate working conditions in the chosen research group at the MDC must be demonstrated. A statement of support from the group leader must be included.
  • Each research group is limited to three doctoral or two post-doctoral awards with no more than two full positions being supported at any point in time.

The application  

  • After publication of the call, applications are submitted through the Open positions area of the MDC online application system. 
  • Applications must be composed in English.
  • The application must contain:
-  A project proposal
-  A statement of motiviation including a c. 200 word summary of the doctoral thesis and a statement of future career goals
-  A brief statement of support from the proposed group leader
-  A CV in table format
-  Copies of degree certificates (from MSc. or equivalent onwards)
-  Two letters of recommendation
-  A list of publications and copies of a maximum of five publications.
  • The project proposal must contain:
-  A project title
-  An abstract (c. 200 words)
-  A statement on the current state of research in the field
-  Any preparatory research undertaken by the candidate or by the research group
-  The project goals
-  Experimental timeline for funding period and, if necessary, alternative experimental timelines
-  An indication of any particular difficulties identified
-  Collaborations and a list of references may also be included.
  • The project proposal should be at least five but no more than 15 pages in length.
  • The applicant as author is solely responsible for the project proposal.
  • The start date and the desired duration of the award should appear on the project proposal cover page.
  • In case of further questions, the application must contain the current address and telephone number of the applicant.
  • Applications that do not conform to these requirements can be discounted from further consideration.

The assessment procedure  

  • Applications are assessed by the MDC Fellowship Committee.  The members and Chair are appointed by the MDC Directorate on behalf of the MDC Scientific Council.  The eight members of the Fellowship Committee are listed on the MDC Website (MDC Intranet - Committees - Fellowship Committee).
  • The Fellowship Committee meets twice or thrice a year, normally in Spring and Autumn.
  • Committee members who are unable to attend cannot send a proxy to act on their behalf.  They can convey their voting intentions to the Chair either orally or in writing. 
  • Committee members receive submitted applications at least three weeks prior to the committee meeting. 
  • At any point in the assessment process additional opinions can be solicited by the Fellowship Committee or the MDC Board. Such additional opinions are primarily to be drawn upon when the applicant is not able to attend an interview (for example if applying from overseas).
  • Candidates are invited by email to give a ten minute maximum presentation with five minutes of subsequent discussion. The presentation is given in English and is to be illustrated by MS Powerpoint. An electronic copy of the presentation must be supplied to Jennifer Stewart at least one week before the meeting.  Laptop and data projector are provided. This presentation is not a public event.  The participation of the intended group leader is not permitted.

The outcome  

  • The decision to confirm the written recommendations of the Fellowship Committee rests with the MDC Directorate.
  • The MDC Directorate can authorise a member of the MDC Management Committee to take such decisions.
  • The recommendation of the Fellowship Committee is based upon an assessment of the written project description, the oral presentation and, where applicable, any further solicited opinions.  Any recommendations are reached by majority vote. At least four members must be present to take decisions. In cases of tied votes, the Chair of the Committee holds the casting vote.   The recommendation comprises the endorsement of the candidate, the length of the award and any other conditions.
  • The recommendations of the Fellowship Committee are final.  The resubmission of applications is not possible.
  • If a member of the Committee is the current supervisor of the candidate, then the committee member is ineligible to take part in the proceedings.
  • The MDC Directorate conveys its decisions to the Chair of the Fellowship Committee. The Chair then informs the candidate and the MDC personnel department of the outcome.  All correspondence is conducted in writing.
  • If the recommendations of the Fellowship Committee are not endorsed by the MDC Directorate, then the reasons underlying this decision must be presented to the Fellowship Committee.  When the Fellowship committee and the MDC Directorate then remain in disagreement, then the MDC Directorate takes the final decision.
  • The period of time from the submission of the application to the decision taken on the application should normally not exceed three months.
  • Successful applicants will be remunerated on the TVoeD / E13 salary scale on a fixed term contract.

Extension, interruption and premature termination of awards  

  • The length of a postdoctoral award is 12 months. 18 months can be awarded in exceptional circumstances.
  • Extension is not possible.
  • Applications for “emergency funding” for expired third party funds are not considered. In such cases, please contact the office of the MDC Scientific Director directly.
  • Interruptions in funding are to be avoided.  If an interruption is necessary (for example pregnancy or long-term illness) then the Fellowship Committee should be informed in writing. 
  • If an award is ended prematurely, then the Fellowship Committee is to be informed of the reasons behind this decision in writing.

Alternative rules

  • In the case of exceptional circumstance (for example a project proposal of outstanding quality) then the Fellowship Committee may depart from the normal procedure.  Here, recommendations require a two-third majority of the Committee members.


Amended after 06.09.13 Fellowship Committee decision by Jennifer Stewart