CoPILOT - The Graduate Program of TRR 359 "Perinatal Development of Immune Cell Topology (PILOT)"



The TRR 359 Transregional Collaborative Research Center “Perinatal Development of Immune Cell Topology (PILOT)” is a consortium which brings together scientists from several research institutions across Germany to research the development of the immune system around birth.

Within PILOT, an Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) "CoPILOT" is a structured doctoral training program in perinatal immunology. Doctoral researchers in the natural sciences and medical doctoral (MD) candidates will be integrated into the PILOT consortium and will conduct research and receive training addressing unique theoretical and methodological aspects of perinatal immune cell development. CoPILOT will provide optimal support to doctoral candidates to pursue advanced training in a cutting-edge scientific environment, forming a new generation of scientific leaders in the area of perinatal immunology. Simultaneously, CoPILOT members will embody the bottom-up scientific network, interconnecting the geographically distributed PILOT groups.

The CoPILOT doctoral training program covers:

  • Unique theoretical and methodological aspects of perinatal immune cell development including complex genetic mouse models and -omics approaches
  • Bio-imaging applications under in vivo and in vitro conditions
  • Basic principle seminars
  • Advanced method courses
  • Lab rotations to PILOT partner groups
  • CoPILOT lecture series (hybrid format), annual retreats and summer schools
  • Transferable skills courses

Regular lectures, seminars and workshops are offered in a hybrid format; retreats, summer schools and lab rotations are organized on-site.

All CoPILOT doctoral researchers have a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) to monitor their individual progress, supervise their scientific work, provide guidance on career planning and support a scientific network.

Since PILOT brings together scientists from several institutions across Germany, doctoral researchers will work on their research project at a specific location. Please read the subproject descriptions for more information about the location of each subproject. Several PILOT subprojects span two sites and hence doctoral candidates in one subproject may work at different sites.

Please visit our website for more information about TRR 359 (PILOT) and the CoPILOT program.

Currently there are open positions for doctoral researchers in the following subprojects:

All doctoral projects are funded with a doctoral position/contract at the host university for a minimum of 3 years. Extensions will be possible. For international candidates, the initial months can be covered by a scholarship.

Application process

Our application process is a 6-step-process:

  • Register here
  • Click on apply-link
  • Fill out application form
  • Upload all required documents
  • Provide names and contact information for two referees. Please contact your referees in advance to ensure that they agree to provide a reference for you.
  • Submit application

Approximate timeline for the application round:

  • Opening of the CoPILOT online application system: March 13, 2023, 12:00 (noon), CET
  • Deadline for submitting the applications: April 24, 2023, 12:00 (noon), CET
  • Screening and evaluation of applications: until May 12, 2023
  • Interviews: May 22, 2023 - June 02, 2023
  • Start of your doctoral project: As soon as possible thereafter, depending on regulations and arrangements


Further Information

Formal requirements for eligibility

If you intend to apply for the CoPILOT Graduate program of TRR 359, please note the following requirements:

Formal criteria/ Minimum requirements

  • A degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, life sciences, pharmacy, health sciences or related field, encompassing a minimum of 240 ECTS (in most cases this corresponds to 8 semesters)

If you received your degree from a university outside of Germany, it must be equivalent to the corresponding German degree. It is not necessary to have been awarded the degree at the point of application. However, the degree must be awarded before you start your doctoral project.

A final decision regarding eligibility will be made after submission of your complete application and will require the approval of university officials.

Degree options

Depending on the local university regulations, the supervisors´ degrees and candidates’ background and/or planned career path, CoPILOT doctoral researchers can register for one of the following degrees:

  • Ph.D.
  • Dr.rer.nat.
  • Dr.rer.biol.hum.

During your application, you may select two projects: a first preference project (priority 1) and one alternative doctoral project of interest (priority 2).

Documents for the application process

Mandatory Documents

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) without gaps
  • Transcript (record of study) and degree certificate for a Bachelor degree, Vordiplom or equivalent degree
  • If applicable: Transcript (record of study) and degree certificate for a Master Degree, Diplom, Staatsexamen or equivalent degree. If your degree program is not yet completed, please provide temporary transcripts.
  • Two references; your referees must provide these directly to us via the automated email system
  • Certificate of proficiency in English if not a native English speaker or education was not in English

Recommended Documents

  • For some projects, the university may require that you provide a high school degree transcript or university entry qualification. It is not mandatory to upload this during the application process but doing so may simplify the process if your application progresses to subsequent rounds of checks.
  • Certificates of scholarships, prizes and awards (if applicable)
  • Any evidence of your knowledge of special techniques and methods

Selection process

Applications will be independently reviewed by several members of the TRR 359 consortium. Based on candidates’ academic qualifications, research experience, motivation, scientific background and letters of recommendation, selected individuals will be invited for online interviews for specific subprojects.

Successful applicants will be offered a funded doctoral researcher position for 3 years (in the first instance) at the supervisor’s institution. In most cases, the position will be financed by the supervisor’s grant funding.


The graduate program is free of charge. Accommodation and costs of living, as well as enrolment fees must covered by the doctoral candidates themselves. Not all participating universities charge enrolment fees.


If you have any doubts as to whether you fulfill the requirements or have any other questions, please feel free to contact the CoPILOT coordination office at or