Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research (CGA)

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Principal investigators of the Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research (CGA) are internationally renowned scientists of the University of Cologne Excellence Cluster on Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD), the University Hospital Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research. CGA research groups enjoy an outstanding reputation in the cutting-edge research field of ageing and age-related diseases. Diverse topics of their research areas include genetic and epigenetic determinants of longevity, protein quality control, DNA damage and repair, mitochondria regulation, immunosenescence and inflammation, stem cell and tissue maintenance, organellar and cellular architecture, endocrine control of metabolism as well as age-related diseases such as neurodegeneration, cancer, diabetes, obesity and kidney dysfunction. Close links between the research groups foster interdisciplinary collaboration and promote the development of novel research approaches.


The laboratories use diverse model systems - from bacteria, yeast, worms, and flies, to fish, mice, cultured cells, and human clinical samples - to delve into basic mechanistic questions and translate these questions into new, clinical applications in order to facilitate a healthy life. State-of-the-art core facilities provide on-campus platforms for performing genomics, proteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics, imaging, cell sorting, metabolic profiling and phenotyping.


Understanding how and why we age are fundamental biological questions with great medical and societal impact. To address these questions, we aim to train a new generation of biomedical scientists to unravel the basic molecular mechanisms underlying ageing and age-related diseases.

This requires an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the fields of genetics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, pharmacology, neurosciences, medical biology and translational medicine. The Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research provides an outstanding research environment and tailor-made training programmes for both M.Sc and PhD level to meet this challenge.

We offer young scientists of exceptional talent a structured Ph.D. training in biomedical disciplines within a highly international research environment. Our annual application call usually opens in mid-August; application deadline is mid-November. Up to 30 candidates are invited to an on-site recruitment week in spring each year, where they can network with current graduate students, interact with principal investigators during a faculty poster session and visit up to 5 laboratories of their interest. After the admission to our programme, start of the Ph.D. projects is possible each year from July until October. Ph.D. students receive work contracts for the duration of the programme. Payment is based on the German TV-L E13 scale, 65% if terms and conditions under collective bargaining law are fulfilled or on an equivalently remunerated Ph.D. support contract of the Max Planck Society. The Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research strives to foster scientific independence by immersing students in high quality research, encouraging critical thinking skills and lively exchange with other scientists. All communication and courses are conducted in English. Upon completion of the Ph.D., the doctoral degree is awarded by the University of Cologne.

Students holding a B.Sc. degree in a relevant field that are eager to start their Master studies at the University of Cologne in Biological Science or Biochemistry and have a fundamental interest in ageing research are encouraged to apply to our Master fellowship programme. CGA Master fellows are supported with a fellowship of €861/month and are affiliated to a mentor of our faculty. They can actively engage in scientific and social activities of the mentor’s group and have regular advisory meetings with their mentor. This way our Master fellows have the unique chance to identify the research field they are most passionate about for their PhD studies already at an early stage.

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