Notes for Applicants: Delbrueck Program for Postdoctoral Scientists

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 Delbrueck Program aims at supporting postdoctoral scientists in their scientific career and at ensuring early independence for experienced postdocs. The deciding criteria governing the selection process are the quality of the proposed project and the experience of the candidate. The awardees will be promoted as junior group leaders at MDC.

Type of funding 

  • Funding in the Delbrueck program is for a period of three years. Following positive evaluation, funding can be extended for a maximum of two years. The successful applicant shall be affiliated organizationally to a research group at MDC which will provide the space and infrastructure for the duration of the project. The host research group shall ensure the independence of the research topic of the scientist and the freedom to publish scientific publications as senior author. MDC will allocate 15000 EUR per year for the scientist’s research. These funds shall be assigned to the project, but shall be listed in the budget of the supporting group leader.
  • It is the duty of the scientist to actively advance the project, to gain scientific independence and leadership competence, to establish internal and external collaborations, to communicate scientific results on conferences and to publish them in established scientific journals. He/she should be able to acquire additional third-party funding.
  • Scientists in the Delbrueck Program will be expected to participate in MDC mentoring programs to obtain individual support in their career development. Here the current rules for the mentoring of MDC junior group leaders apply.


  • The candidate must hold a doctoral qualification.
  • The project must be realizable in the chosen host group at MDC. Approval of the research group leader must be ensured.


  • After publication of the call, applications are submitted through the Open position area of the MDC online application system. 
  • Applications must be composed in English.
  • The application must contain:
- Statement of motivation including a c. 200 word summary of previous research and a statement of future career goals
- Project description
- CV in table format
- List of publications
- Copies of university certificates (from MSc. onwards)
- Brief supporting statement from the research group leader. The letter of support from the host should state explicitly the support for the applicant concerning independence (e.g. publication rights, additional / supporting positions, additional / financial support)
- Letters of recommendation from two referees, at least one of which should be external. 
  • The project description must contain:
- Title of the project
- Summary (approx. 200 words)
- Status of research
- Preliminary work of the research group and/or own preliminary work
- Project objectives
- Experimental program within the requested funding period. If applicable, alternative experimental programs
- Reference to particular difficulties, currently experienced or anticipated
- Potential cooperation partners, list of references.
  • The project description should be between five pages and eight pages in length.
  • The applicant assumes sole responsibility as author of the project description.
  • The desired start of the funding and its desired duration should be stated on the project description cover page.
  • In case further information is needed, the applicant’s contact details shall be included in the application.
  • Applications which do not meet the standard described above can be excluded from further assessment.

The assessment procedure 

  • Applications are assessed by the MDC Fellowship Committee. The members and Chair are appointed by the MDC Directorate in conjunction with 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 Directorate. In particular, these reports shall be requested if a personal presentation by the applicant is not possible (e.g. an application from overseas).
  • Candidates are invited by email to give a ten minute presentation with five to ten 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 host group leader is not permitted.


  • The Fellowship Committee decides on the approval of the applications with a simple majority of the members present. At least four members must be present to take decisions. In the event of a tie, the deciding vote shall be cast by the Chairman.
  • If a committee member or guest is at the same time a member of the research group chosen by the applicant, the respective committee member or guest does not have the right to vote.
  • The recommendations of the Fellowship Committee are final; i.e. if the applicant is rejected he or she may not resubmit an application within the next 12 months.
  • The Chairman of the Fellowship Committee shall inform the applicant and the Human Resources Department of the MDC in writing of the decision taken.
  • The committee and its members do not provide candidate feedback.
  • Fellows in the Delbrueck Program shall be paid according to the salary scale for scientists, i.e. the German civil service pay scale TVoeD E14 in a temporary employment relationship.

Duration, extensions, interruptions and premature termination of ongoing funding 

  • Funding in the Delbrueck Program is for a period of three years. Evaluation of the scientific results will be persued by the Fellowship Committee. Following a positive evaluation funding may be extended for a maximum of two years. The evaluation takes place between one year and six months before the end of the fellowship.
  • Evaluation is based on the written report submitted by the Fellow to the Fellowship Committee and an oral presentation. On receipt of the report, the Fellow is invited to present orally the case for extension. The host group leader is to be present at this meeting.  
  • Interruptions due to parental leave are taken into account in accordance with the valid MDC employment agreement.
  • The Fellowship Committee shall be notified of a premature termination of funding, and the reasons for this shall be stated in writing.
  • A short closing report comprising of a summary of the project outcomes (maximum one page) and a list of publications resulting from the fellowship are to be submitted to the Fellowship Committee at the end of the award.


Amended after 06.09.13 Fellowship Committee decision by Jennifer Stewart