PhD program in Microbial Symbioses

A new PhD program in Microbial Symbioses funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) project MAINTAIN and the University of Vienna is about to start soon. Stay tuned, or have a look at the DoME International PhD and Postdoc Program in the meantime.

Microbes are commonly perceived as purely harmful, disease-causing life forms. Although some microbes can cause disease, the vast majority of the microbes that live on and in us or are in fact beneficial. Microbes carry out a range of essential functions, contributing to the health and development of virtually every plant, animal, and single-celled organism on this planet. These symbiotic relationships range from partnerships between two organisms to associations of one host with a complex community of microbes (termed microbiome). We are only beginning to understand how these symbiotic relationships evolved and function, and how they are maintained in an ever-changing environment. Yet, a better understanding of host-microbe-environment interactions and of the importance of microbes for animals, plants and humans is a crucial aspect of the scientific basis required to tackle global and environmental health challenges. The doctoral program ‘Microbial symbioses in dynamic environments: Metabolic interplay and novel interactions (MAINTAIN)’ builds upon the research focus on symbiosis at the University of Vienna and is integrated into the up-and-running doctoral program.

Our aim is to establish an interdisciplinary and international PhD program with a focus on scientific and educational excellence. Our interdisciplinary and international curriculum will provide PhD candidates with ample opportunities to connect with established labs and senior researchers, and with extensive training in scientific and transferable skills. 

The central theme of the new PhD program is studying how partners in a symbiosis interact in the face of environmental changes with respect to exchange of nutrients and other compounds, which often drives these relationships. By addressing related research question using a range of different microbial symbioses including mice and humans, but also protists, nematodes and mussels, our students will graduate from this program with a uniquely broad understanding of host-microbe research. The research program is structured into 14 projects, headed by our faculty, which includes experts in microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics and analytical chemistry. The interdisciplinary education offered by the PhD program, and its focus on an emerging field in the life sciences will ensure that our PhD candidates graduate with excellent qualifications that will provide them with the ideal start to a successful scientific career.