FIMM EMBL international PhD programme

As part of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, outstanding doctoral researchers are recruited to the institute-level rotation programme through the annual call. The recruited doctoral researchers work with 2-3 different research groups during a 6-9 month period before matching to a research group in which they remain for their complete PhD studies.
Goals of the programme

The FIMM-EMBL International PhD programme aims to recruit outstanding international and Finnish doctoral researchers and provide them with diverse research training early in their academic careers. The FIMM-EMBL system is student-centered. With the aims of diversifying individual research training and building connections and collaborations within FIMM, this programme provides doctoral researchers with the unique and exciting opportunity to explore different research areas and working environments, as well as experience a variety of science and technology and make connections within and beyond the institute.

Doctoral researchers are recruited at the institute level and then select a research group after a rotational period. In this rotational period, they engage in projects with two or three different research groups during a six- to nine-month period prior to selecting a group in which they remain for their PhD studies. Since the rotational period naturally lends itself to building collaborations and sparking interests that cross over research group boundaries, in the EMBL spirit, the FIMM-EMBL doctoral researchers often become involved in collaborative projects. The programme also provides training in both written and oral scientific communication in the form of rotation reports: poster, scientific talk, and written research paper.

Annual call

The applications for the positions of the doctoral researchers in the programme are invited in the open call every year in January. Application submission deadline is typically early February, and the positions begin in August. Detailed information regarding the positions, research areas, qualifications, and application and selection process can be found through FIMM’s Career page when the call opens.

Top candidates are selected by the group leaders and coordinators, and are invited for two rounds of interviews, typically in mid-March and early May 2024. The candidates selected for the positions are offered an initial contract for 17 months, during the first half of which they will engage in training through research group rotations. Upon a successful review and selection of a research group after the rotational period, the initial contracts are extended up to a four-year period.

First year of study: ro­ta­tions & se­lect­ing a group

With 2010 as the inaugural year, the FIMM-EMBL PhD programme is currently in its 15th consecutive year of recruitment. Selection concludes in early May, and in August the new FIMM-EMBL doctoral researchers begin at FIMM with one week of orientation. In first 2 to 3 days, they learn about the institute and research training at FIMM and the University of Helsinki. They also complete their work-related paperwork and carry out any residency-related practical matters in Finland. During the next few days in orientation week, they meet with group leaders to discuss potential rotation projects and shadow the operations in the FIMM Technology Centre units to engage with state-of-the-art research technologies at the institute. Following the group leaders meetings, FIMM-EMBL doctoral researchers express their preferences for a first research rotation and are matched to a group for a period of three months (September-November). The doctoral researchers begin the rotation project immediately and are fully integrated into the research group. During the last week of the rotation, they present their findings in the FIMM Annual Poster session.

Prior to the end of the first rotation, doctoral researchers express their preferences for a second rotation, which are discussed with the group leaders, and matching is completed. In December, doctoral researchers begin a second three-month rotation (December-February). This second rotation culminates in a talk given to the institute as part of the biweekly, in-house research seminar series, FIMM Scientific Coffee Break.

Near the end of the second rotation, doctoral researchers, in cooperation and mutual agreement with their rotation research mentor(s) and the FIMM coordinator of research training, select a research group in which to complete their PhD studies. If a decision cannot be reached or the doctoral researcher would like to gain additional training and expertise in a particular area, a third three-month research rotation (March-May) is encouraged. If this option is selected, doctoral researcher submits a written report of their findings at the end of the third rotation and selects a research group at the conclusion of the third rotation.

Applying for a study right

Completion of the rotations, selection of research group for PhD studies, and planning and starting of the research projects typically takes approximately one year. After this, FIMM-EMBL doctoral researchers apply to a faculty in the University of Helsinki for the formal right to pursue the PhD degree and register in an appropriate doctoral programme in the University of Helsinki Doctoral School. More information on how to apply for the study right and open calls can be found on the University of Helsinki website.

EMBL part­ner­ship & activ­it­ies

During the training, FIMM-EMBL doctoral researchers also engage in courses, seminars, symposia, and meetings, including, e.g., joint annual meetings of the Nordic EMBL Partnership in early autumn each year. In this symposium, doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and group leaders from all four of the Nordic EMBL nodes come together to present and discuss their research, core infrastructure, and technologies.

In addition, all of the FIMM-EMBL and numerous other doctoral researchers from FIMM participate in each autumn in the EMBL PhD Symposium, an annual training session at the EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany), and are encouraged to attend EMBL/EMBO courses and events.

Furthermore, the exchange of PhD students among MIMSNCMMDANDRITE and FIMM for training events, research visits and short-term stays is encouraged. Funding for such international exchange currently exists through the Nordic EMBL Partnership. We aim for these international exchanges to be a strong component of PhD training at FIMM.