Doctoral Degree Program Bioinformatics

The PhD program Bioinformatics is devoted to top-level research in bioinformatics. It offers a structured PhD-level education in English language for students with excellent qualifications and involves a six-month research visit at an international partner institution.

A decisive motivation for implementing this doctoral study program was the establishment of the International Research Training Group "Computational Methods for the Analysis of the Diversity and Dynamics of Genomes" (GRK 1906, in completion phase), which is currently also in charge of the coordination of the studyprogram.



Since the development of genome sequencing and other high-throughput techniques, a great potential was seen in the benefits of a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying life. Through the technological advances not only more genomic and post-genomic data are produced, but also new scientific questions can be addressed.

One focus lies on the development of data structures and computational methods to analyze the relationship of individuals within larger populations. Understanding both the variation between individuals (diversity) and the change in populations over time (dynamics) are essential to fully comprehend biological systems.


In addition to the scientific research work, PhD students complete a study program consisting of a total of 30 ECTS credit points, taking into account the scientific background of the students and the subject of the doctoral thesis. The students may compile the study program in accordance with the scientific coordinator of the program and their advisors.

Beside lectures and seminars (usually master level or dedicated courses), an individual study program comprises teaching assistance, organization of / participation in workshops, publication, advising students, key skill seminars, and, most notably, a research visit at an international partner institution for about six months. For further details see study regulations.

Moreover, students of this program have the option to participate in the Bioinformatics Research and Education Workshop (BREW), an international workshop for first-year PhD students that is jointly organized and attended.


This study program does not involve any funding opportunities.

To apply for enrollment, see the study regulations for requirements and contact the scientific coordinator Roland Wittler .

Although the study program has strong ties with and is currently coordinated by the International Research Training Group "DiDy", also other students are welcome to enroll to the study program.



Bielefeld University established its reputation in excellent PhD education of interdisciplinary science with the establishment of the DFG Research Training Group 231 "Structure Formation Processes" in 1996. The mission of this program was to bring together mathematicians and computer scientists to work together with biologists, chemists, physicists, linguists and economists on the mathematical modelling of pattern formation processes. It has catalyzed the cooperation between mathematics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and computer science.

When bioinformatics gained momentum as a new discipline (rather than a field of interdisciplinary research), this gave rise to the DFG Research Training Group 635 "Bioinformatics" reflecting that the needs of the day were most urgently directed towards software and algorithmics to handle and interpret the upcoming large amounts of genomic data. A number of joint activities resulting from this point have turned Bielefeld into one of the leading bioinformatics sites in Germany and beyond, as visible from the success in the DFG Bioinformatics Initiative in 2000 and the endowment with the International NRW Graduate School in Bioinformatics and Genome Research in 2001 by the Ministry for Science and Research (MWF) of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

In October 2013, a new graduate program has been established: The International DFG Research Training Group "Computational Methods for the Analysis of the Diversity and Dynamics of Genomes" in cooperation with Simon Fraser University in Canada. Besides its research program, it also involves a broad qualification program including teaching, workshops, key skill seminars, and, most notably, extensive exchange of students and faculty between the partner institutions. To accommodate the computer science focus of the graduate program, the study regulations have been updated to the new version "Bioinformatics".


Scientific Coordination

Roland Wittler

Examination Office



Bielefeld University
Faculty of Technology
Doctoral Program Bioinformatics
Postfach 10 01 31
D-33501 Bielefeld