Notes for Applicants: Cécile Vogt Program for Female 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 

  • With the Cécile Vogt Program, MDC seeks to promote the advancement of women in their scientific careers and thus help increase the proportion of successful women candidates for leadership positions in science. The aim of this program is to enable early independence for women scientists and support the visibility of their achievements.

Type of funding

  • Funding in the Cécile Vogt program is for a period of three or four years. Following positive evaluation, funding can be extended for a maximum of two years. The successful applicant will be affiliated organizationally to a research group at the MDC, which shall provide her space and the infrastructure for duration of the project. The host research group shall ensure that the female scientist has the thematic independence and the freedom to publish scientific publications as senior author. The MDC shall 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.
  • The Fellow has the opportunity to choose between three or four years funding. Vogt Fellows can opt to receive a 70000 EUR budget rather than funding for the fourth year of their own position, for flexible use in the context of the fellowship. If this option is chosen, the candidate should include a specific proposal for the use of such funds as part of the application pack. If the funds are used to hire a PhD student, then the student’s continued supervision must be ensured after the running time of the fellowship.
  • The female scientist is expected to actively advance her project, develop scientific independence and leadership skills, successfully apply for and acquire external funding, establish internal and external collaborations, present her research results at professional conferences and publish her research in the relevant journals.
  • The sponsored female researcher is expected to participate in existing mentoring programs and also to obtain additional, individual support for career development and network building. In registering for a place in the Helmholtz Management Academy, the female scientist can be given priority.  Here the current rules for the mentoring of MDC junior group leaders apply.


  • The candidate must hold a doctoral qualification.
  • The necessary working conditions in the MDC research group chosen by the applicant. The approval of the research group leader must be ensured.


  • After publication of a 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:
- Statement of motiviation 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 (c. 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 8 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 Directorte. 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 10 minute presentation with 5-10 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 4 members must be present to take decisions. In the event of a tie, the deciding vote shall be cast by the Chairman.
  • The Women’s Representative of the MDC shall be included in the application and decision process. She participates as guest in the meeting of the Fellowship Committee and in this case has the right to vote.
  • 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 she may not resubmit an application within the next 12 months.
  • The Chairman of the Fellowship Committee shall inform the applicant, the Human Resources Department and the Women’s Representative of the MDC in writing of the decision taken. The reason/reasons for the rejection of an applicant shall be given to the Women’s Representative in writing in the form of an excerpt from the Minutes.
  • The committee and its members do not provide candidate feedback.
  • Postdocs in the Cécile Vogt 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 Cécile Vogt Program is for a period of three or 4 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.