FMI, Switzerland PhD Program
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FMI, Switzerland PhD Program 2020 – Check Details

FMI, Switzerland PhD Program 2020. The Application portal will open soon. Interested applicants can check out all of the details on the programme, courses offered, eligibility, application procedure, dates, important links and such below:

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The FMI runs both a PhD program and, since summer 2016, an MD-PhD program. While the PhD program accepts students with a university degree in life sciences, the MD-PhD program is tailored to students of medicine with an interest in fundamental scientific research. Both programs offer students the opportunity to carry out cutting-edge biomedical research in a stimulating, highly international and collaborative atmosphere.

Why choose FMI?

Science: The FMI is an international leader in biomedical research in the fields of epigenetics, neurobiology and quantitative biology. It provides interdisciplinary training and access to state-of-the-art technology platforms. Our affiliations with the University of Basel and with Novartis, as well as our location at the center of a life science hub, provide numerous opportunities for scientific collaborations.

Training: A wide range of theoretical and practical courses are available at both the FMI and the University of Basel. FMI provides an annual

PhD Orientation Afternoon and a Scientific Inquiry Course for first year PhD students. Most students participate in “progress reports” to discuss science and practice their presentation skills. Many labs provide journal clubs. In addition, students participate in the FMI Annual Meeting and are encouraged to attend international conferences to present projects and develop their networks.

Mentoring: Mentoring is taken seriously at the FMI. PhD students are mentored throughout their PhD by their supervisor (group leader) and by their thesis advisory committee members; if appropriate, there will also be initial supervision/collaboration with more senior students or postdocs in their labs.

Support: PhD students are supported by the PhD Program Coordinator (administrative management), the PhD Representatives (promotion of student issues at the institute) and the Dean of Students (liaison with the University of Basel and confidential advice). In addition, PhD students can consult our dedicated Guidance Counsellor for confidential support on any issues concerning projects, mentors, lab environment, work/life balance or career planning.

Career Development: Group leader supervisors, the Head of Human Resources, and the Guidance Counsellor are key people supporting students’ career development. PhD and Postdoc Representatives organize annual career events, as well as professional development workshops with external trainers. In addition, many workshops on career development are offered through the Basel University Graduate Center. FMI PhD students are also able to join an employee program at Novartis, matching them with an industry mentor.

Life at the institute: With staff of 45 different nationalities, the FMI offers a truly international, open and welcoming environment. All FMI students are encouraged to organize and participate in activities outside the lab (e.g. sport groups). Happy Hours are held every other Friday afternoon, sometimes including barbecues on the rooftop terrace. The annual PhD retreat provides a relaxed opportunity to connect with fellow students in a beautiful setting.

Life in Basel: Basel – the third largest city in Switzerland, with a rich cultural heritage – is a great place to live. It has a lot to offer in terms of culture, entertainment, dining, etc., while being easy to navigate thanks to its relatively small size. Located right on the border with France and Germany, and home to several multinational companies, Basel is highly international. As well as providing easy access to neighboring countries, it is close to the many beautiful places in Switzerland. Switzerland is an expensive country, but the FMI offers a generous stipend for living expenses.


Applicants must hold, or anticipate receiving before enrollment, a university degree that would formally qualify them to enter a PhD or equivalent program in their home country (MSc., Diploma, DEA etc.)
Admission is competitive, involving a selection procedure that takes place twice a year (in January and June). The deadline for applications is 1.5-2 months prior to the selection procedure (November 15 and May 1).


A course of study at the FMI leading to a PhD degree of the University of Basel typically lasts four to five years. Thesis defenses take place at the FMI and are public.

Mentoring & support

The main supervisor and mentor of the PhD student is the leader of the research group. Students are also supported by their thesis advisory committee composed of internal and external experts whom the students choose together with their supervisor. The FMI put in place mentoring guidelines and conducts lab surveys on a regular basis to maintain excellence in mentoring.

Additional academic advice, professional development support and advocacy on behalf of the students is also available through the FMI Dean of Students and the Guidance Counsellor.

As a Dean of Students, Marc Bühler acts as an academic liaison with the University of Basel. He offers confidential, impartial advice, and can help resolve problems by acting as a neutral intermediary between students and the academic or administrative areas of the University and the FMI.

As a Guidance Counsellor, Piera Cicchetti offers individual counselling to promote the academic and professional development of students and resolve difficulties. She attends thesis committee meetings to support best practices, develops the training curriculum, and organizes professional development activities with students and postdocs.

Graduate courses

Together with the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, the Department of Biomedicine of the University of Basel, the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of the ETH, and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (TPH), the FMI participates in an international and interdisciplinary graduate teaching program in the areas of

  • neurobiology
  • cell biology
  • developmental biology
  • biophysical chemistry
  • structural biology
  • systems biology
  • bioinformatics
  • infection biology

PhD students are required to complete 12 semester-hours of coursework during their PhD thesis.

» Graduate Teaching Program (on the Biozentrum website)


The FMI provides financial support to graduate students in accordance with the scale of the Swiss National Science Foundation. Salary is generous relative to international standards for PhD students.

General requirements

The application procedure is the same for the PhD and the MD-PhD Program. For the PhD Program, applicants must hold a university degree that would formally qualify them to enter a PhD or equivalent program in their home country (MSc., Diploma, DEA, etc.) Please note that a Bachelor’s degree does not qualify for entry into our PhD Program.

For the MD-PhD Program, applicants must have studied medicine and must hold a university degree that would formally qualify them to enter clinical training in their home country (Medical Diploma, Approbation, etc.) Having documented research laboratory experience is strongly recommended.

There are two rounds of applications per year, with application deadlines May 1 and November 15. All applications are reviewed by group leaders who have openings within their teams. A group of shortlisted candidates will be invited for interviews in June and January, respectively.

The application

Please fill in the online application form. Note that this information and relevant documents will be shared among various people within the FMI for assessment.

» Online application form (PhD Program)
» Online application form (MD-PhD Program)

You should provide contact details of at least one referee familiar with your training and research experience. Multiple letters (up to three) are preferred. Referees will receive an individualized link to upload their letter (not visible to you) once you have submitted their contact information. We suggest to submit a first version of your application, containing contact information of referees early, in order to give referees sufficient time to provide their letters. You will be able to revise your application up to the deadline. Please ask your referee(s) to use this reference letter template:

» Reference letter template

Key dates

  • Promotion of the next round of application and “opening” of the registration form starts two and a half months prior to deadlines: February 15 and September 1.
  • Application deadlines are: May 1 and November 15, respectively.
  • The interviews take place in Basel approximately 7 to 8 weeks after each deadline.


For more information about the application process, please check out our Q&A section (FAQ tab above)

If you still have questions about the PhD Program, please contact Elida Keller at the FMI PhD Program office: [email protected].

If you still have questions about the MD-PhD Program, please contact Marilyn Vaccaro at the FMI MD-PhD Program office: [email protected]

Online Application Form (Portal Will Open Soon)

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