PhD positions

There are two open PhD positions in the International Research Training Group (IRTG2150) with the earliest possible start date. The overall topic of the IRTG is to investigate the neurobiology of pathological aggression and impulsivity in psychiatric disorders. Specifically, in one project, the candidate will participate in a psychotherapy trial in patients with stress-related psychiatric disorders and will carry out neuropsychological, psychopathological and functional as well as structural magnet resonance imaging (MRI). Aims are to identify neurobiological changes related to aggression during the treatment. In the second project, criminal offenders and non-criminal controls will undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) sessions with the aim of reducing aggressive behavior, which will be measured before and after active or sham sessions including the assessment of functional brain activity at a 3 Tesla MRI. Both students are strongly involved in the general course structure of the IRTG including visits at our partner university in Philadelphia (UPENN).

The participating institutions of the IRTG comprise the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, the Department of Neurology, the Department of Biology, and the Institutes of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. The program is situated within the framework of the Jülich-Aachen Research Alliance (JARA-BRAIN). These and associated institutions host the individual doctoral researchers in joint supervision of partners from the University of Pennsylvania (Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, Biology, Pharmacology, Psychology, Radiology, Criminology).

The successful applicants will be granted a TVL-13 (75%) position.

The IRTG is designed to allow participants to acquire a doctoral degree (Dr. rer. medic.) within this time frame.
Applicants for the doctoral stipends must hold a Master’s degree or a German Diploma (or an equivalent degree) in a related field, such as neuroscience, psychology, biomedical sciences, be interested in neurobiological research of aggression and impulsivity. The curriculum of the IRTG will be in English, facilitating the inclusion of international students. However, we would like to stress that both projects have a strong clinical component involving the recruitment of patients, which gives German-speaking students an advantage (the project involves diagnostics and psychopathological assessment). Due to the strong international orientation of the IRTG, ideal candidates should have a sufficient command of the English language, both in writing and orally (comparable to TOEFL, IELTS-C1). Transcripts or degree certificates issued in languages other than English must be accompanied by English translations.

One position is available from 01.03.2024 and the other from the 01.05.24 in the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics of the University Hospital Aachen. For both projects, very good computer application and statistical skills (e.g. MS Office, SPSS, R), experience with the application of imaging methods (e.g. fMRI and TMS), and initial programming experience (e.g. Matlab/R/Python) are desirable.
Applications can be submitted via email and should include:

  • CV
  • Degree certificates
  • English language proficiency test (if available)
  • One letter of recommendation (or contacts of referees that are willing to report)
  • Applicants are required to outline their future professional plans in a personal statement, in which they shortly describe how their plans relate to the research topics of the IRTG

In order to increase the proportion of women, preference will be given to applications from women with the same qualifications. Disabled persons with the same qualifications will also be given preferential consideration.

Please submit your application or informal inquiries to

The Speaker of the program is
Prof. Dr. Ute Habel
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Faculty of Medicine,
RWTH Aachen University,
Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen