Qualification Program

The IRTG 2172 provides a unique and appealing program on plant defense mechanisms against microbes and insects. The program is designed to prepare doctoral researchers for addressing their own research questions in an independent and professional way and to be qualified for leading positions in academic institutions and enterprises. The IRTG offers a specific study program, which consist of mandatory elements (seminars, methodology courses, soft skill courses) that can be combined with individual optional elements (key skills and methods, courses for females, excursions, outreach activities, visiting researchers program).


The PhD programme is a three-year curriculum which consist of the individual research projects in one of the different research groups and of participation in the qualification program. The doctoral researchers have to obtain 20 ECTS-credits within the modules of the qualification program according to the standing orders of GGNB.


- Introductory module -
To be prepared for their further work on plant pathogen interactions doctoral researchers start their PhD thesis with the introductory module. The module starts with a 3-week team-taught course which covers basic principles of the plant im­mune system and standard experimental strategies to approach open questions. In the fourth week soft skill courses like "Intercultural communication", "Scientific communication" and statistical methods are offered. After this part doctoral researchers of the University of Goettingen spend two months in the collaborating partner lab in Vancouver.

- Seminars -
Plant Molecular Biology Seminar (alternating talks of doctoral researchers and of invited guest scientists, doctoral researchers are responsible for inviting and hosting guest speakers and have the opportunity for discussions with the speakers in small “student only” groups)
Internal student driven seminar (Doctoral researchers meet twice a month without supervisors to discuss research questions and organizational aspects)

- Methodology workshops -
two method courses offered per year (metabolomics and proteomics)

- Teaching and presenting science -
supervision of M.Sc. and B.Sc. theses, supervision of practical courses, talks at seminars, oral and poster presentations at national and international scientific meetings

- Soft skill courses -
Intercultural Communications, Scientific Communications, Poster Presentation Training, Presentations skills workshop, Gender Awareness and Gender Equity Training

- Excursions -
examples of previous excursions: KWS SAAT (Einbeck), Metanomics (Berlin) and Bayer Pharmaceuticals (Berlin) industry excursion

- GGNB courses -
As the IRTG is a program within GGNB, doctoral researchers are encouraged to attend matching method courses and soft skill courses offered by GGNB

Exchange program with the partner institution

All projects within the program are carried out in a collaborative manner between Vancouver and Goettingen. Doctoral researchers of the University of Goettingen work for at least six months within the Canadian partner laboratories. Two months directly after the introductory course in order to get to know the team as well as the complementary methods available at the partner institution. The second visit of about 4 months is realized during the second year of the thesis when the individual projects have been established.

Thesis Committee

Each doctoral researcher is supervised by a thesis committee, which consists of the supervisor, an additional faculty member from the host institution and a third faculty member from the partner institution in Vancouver. The doctoral researchers meet the thesis committee at least annually.

An annual retreat is organized alternately between UBC and UGOE. They are the IRTG’s status colloquia where doctoral researchers present the state of their work and have their thesis committee meetings.