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Clinician Scientist Program Rural_Age

Meeting the Challenges of Chronic Age-Related Diseases in Rural Areas (DFG-funded)

Demographic change and the challenges associated with it (age-related diseases, severe courses of infectious diseases) already play a central role in medical care in the Western Pomerania region. The often-inadequate infrastructure in rural areas also makes it difficult to provide specialist care for people with limited mobility or the elderly. Universitätsmedizin Greifswald (UMG) is meeting these challenges with innovative concepts in research and patient care, especially by linking population-based and molecular research with the targeted use of digital applications.

In the Clinician Scientist Program (CSP) Rural_Age, clinician scientists can focus on highly relevant research questions with a 50% reduction in clinical responsibilities. This program seamlessly integrates specialist clinical training with scientific endeavors. A structured curriculum, professional development opportunities, networking, and personalized mentoring create the foundation for fellows' personal and professional growth. The program aims to foster specialist certification and facilitate Habilitation or equivalent achievements.

 Our program offers two distinct tracks:

3-Year Program Eligibility:

- Open to clinically active resident doctors. A minimum of 2 years of specialist training (Facharztausbildung) is recommended.

- Also open to dentists with a doctorate, up to four years post-completion of the state examination.

2-Year Program Eligibility:

- Designed for clinically active specialist doctors, with eligibility extending up to 2 years following specialization.

All applicants must demonstrate a clear scientific interest, which can be evidenced through publications or other scientific contributions. For specialist doctors, higher achievements are expected, including at least two first/last authorships in original publications, aligning with their advanced career stage.

It's important to note that the German licence to practise medicine (Approbationsurkunde) is mandatory for program commencement, which occurs annually on the 1st of April.

Our 3-Year Program is funded by the DFG and the Gerhard Domagk Nachwuchsförderprogramm our 2-Year Program is funded by the Gerhard Domagk Nachwuchsförderprogramm.

Current Call for Proposals

Expected in Autumn 2024

for reference >> Call for Proposals 2023


Through protected research periods (50% release from clinical duties), scholarship awardees (Clinician Scientist (CS)-Fellows) are given the opportunity to build up their own scientific profile within the framework of a research project with structured supervision, and to take important steps in their professional development (habilitation, specialist qualification).

  • 3 years of funding with subsequent further inclusion in the program structures ("Senior Phase")
  • Guaranteed research periods: 50% clinical activity and 50% research activity (the salary of the CS-Fellow is continued in a regular manner)
  • Mentoring by a dedicated Project Committee (see "Who is Who in the CSP Rural_Age")
  • Accompanying curriculum and other opportunities for qualification and networking (e.g., annual 2-day CSP Rural_Age Retreat)
  • Regular documentation of scientific and clinical achievements
  • Gender and family-friendly policies
  • Quality assurance and development of the program by an external evaluation body (Scientific Advisory Board)


The overall scientific goal of Rural_Age is to elucidate basic mechanisms of aging in inflammatory and degenerative diseases; to conduct data-driven health research by exploiting the potential of clinical information system data (data mining, machine learning); and to promote the implementation of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods through innovative digital applications. This results in four research areas in Rural_Age, which will be addressed in the fellows' projects:

  1. Understanding mechanisms of proteostatic decline in age-related diseases and their therapeutic potential
  2. Digital data from the Clinical Information Systems (CIS), and subsequent machine learning, for data-driven health research
  3. Transfer to the community: clinical trials, home-based applications
  4. Transfer to the community: digital tools for diagnosis and monitoring treatment effects; health services research

An important goal of the CS-Fellows will be to translate their findings into improved diagnosis and treatment in rural Western Pomerania.


The CSP Rural_Age is directed and developed by the following bodies:

Steering Committee

Central steering body, responsible for the selection and evaluation of the fellows as well as the organization and development of the program. Members are the spokesperson of the CSP, Prof. Agnes Flöel, co-applicants of the DFG application and two representatives of the fellows:


  • Prof. Dr. Agnes Flöel (Spokesperson)
  • Prof. Dr. Jens Fielitz
  • Prof. Dr. Lars Kaderali
  • Prof. Dr. Elke Krüger
  • Prof. Dr. Adrian Schwarzer
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Wurm
  • Dr. Ahmed Al Menabbawy
  • Dr. Sebastian Gebhardt

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)
External evaluation committee, responsible for quality assurance and the strategic orientation of the program. There are three members from Universität/Universitätsmedizin Greifswald and three external members who are experts in the structured promotion of young researchers:

Prof. Dr. Eva-Lotta Brakemeier
Universität Greifswald
Institute of Psychology, Chair of Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy

Prof. Dr. Rico Fischer
Universität Greifswald
Institute of Psychology, Chair of General Psychology, focus on cognitive psychology

Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Robert Metelmann (emeritus) 
Universitätsmedizin Greifswald
Former Head of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Plastic Surgery

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dagmar Führer-Sakel
Essen University Hospital
Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism and Program Director UMEA Clinician Scientist Academy of Essen University Hospital

Prof. Dr. Anette Melk, Ph.D.
Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
AG Interdisciplinary Experimental Transplantation Medicine at the Pediatric Research Center

Prof. Dr. Otto W. Witte
Jena University Hospital
Medical Director and Spokesperson of the Clinician Scientist Program OrganAge

General Assembly
Community of former and current scholarship holders and their Project Committees. The General Assembly sees itself as an exchange platform for transparent communication within the CSP and its strategic development. It advises the Steering Committee on scientific and structural issues.

Active CS-Fellows
Former CS Fellows (CS Alumni)
Members of the Project Committees

Project Committees
Individual support of the CS-Fellows (mentoring) in their scientific, clinical, and personal development: two Project Committee meetings each year with project presentation (Progress Report); support in the preparation of work plans during the application phase; option of further, specific mentoring discussions with clinical or scientific mentors

Individual for each scholarship holder:

  • Clinical mentor (head or senior physician of applicants’ own clinic/institute)
  • Scientific mentor (senior scientist from a different UMG clinic/institution or preferably external to UMG)
  • Working group leader (of the laboratory where the research is to be carried out)

Note: Under "Who is Who in CSP Rural_Age" you will find more information about the steering and evaluation committees of the program.

Call for Proposals

>> Call for Proposals 2023

 Required Documentation

  • Application Form including members selected for the Project Committee and description of the research project (in English)
  • Short application profile (online, serves for internal processing and will not be submitted with the other documentation)
  • Letter of motivation (max. 3 pages, in English)
  • Tabular curriculum vitae including list of publications and other scientific activities (max. 3 pages, in English) see DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - Curriculum Vitae for a suggested template
  • Medical certificate, license to practice medicine (Approbationsurkunde), doctorate certificate (Promotionsurkunde) and Clinical Logbook in single copy (the German license to practice medicine is mandatory to join the program)
  • Confirmation from clinic management of previous specialist services and agreement to co-financing and release from clinical duties
  • Mentoring agreement (optional)

UMG expressly welcomes applications from female junior scientists and supports them in reconciling their further scientific qualification with starting a family. Advanced training courses, seminars and accompanying events take place at family-friendly times. Innovative working time models and part-time work are explicitly supported in both clinical and research activities (see also "Gender and Family-Friendly Policies").

Based on the written application documents, the Steering Committee makes a pre-selection and invites the selected candidates to present themselves and their project in Greifswald. For evaluation purposes, the application documents are sent to a reviewer outside the UMG. Criteria for the evaluation of the applications are as follows:

  • the personal motivation and scientific aptitude of the applicant
  • originality and soundness of the research project
  • the projects relation to chronic age-related diseases and care in rural areas (see "Scientific focus")
  • plausibility of a translational and interdisciplinary approach of the research project
  • a proven scientific interest (publication achievements)
  • approach towards pursuing and completing clinical specialist training (in the case of resident doctors) or further qualifications e. g. “Zusatz-Weiterbildungen” (in the case of specialist doctors); and thus reaching clinical, scientific, and personal milestones
  • competitiveness and visibility of the working group (research laboratory) to which the application relates (e.g., third-party funding, publications) 

Selected applicants will present their planned research project and career milestones to the Steering Committee in a scientific presentation (10 minutes, in English) followed by a discussion (10 minutes).

Final Selection 
Based on the written application documents, the assessment of the external reviewers and the presentation of the research projects and career milestones, the Steering Committee makes the final decision on the funding. The external Scientific Advisory Board (see " Who is Who in CSP Rural_Age") evaluates the documentation of the selection process and the application documents of the candidates (quality assurance). All applicants will be informed in writing about the decision of the Steering Committee. With the acceptance of the scholarship, the preparation phase begins for the candidates selected for funding.

Preparatory Phase 
Based on the written application, detailed work plans are drawn up by the CS-Fellows in consultation with the Project Committees and sent to the Steering Committee before the start of the funding phase:

Funding Period
The active funding phase begins annually on 01.04. and lasts 3 years for residents and 2 years for specialists.

As part of the CSP, in addition to their clinical and scientific activities CS-Fellows are supported by a structured supervision system and have numerous possibilities for further education and networking.

  • on an individual schedule: completion of the curriculum, divided into compulsory and elective parts, see "Accompanying Curriculum"
  • weekly: participation in regular meetings of the working group, e.g., Lab Meetings, Journal Clubs
  • monthly: participation in the CSP “round table” meeting
  • twice a year: Project Committee Meeting (self-organised), in which the status of the research project and the clinical training is reported based on a project presentation and the logbooks. The presentation and minutes of the meeting are sent as a Progress Report (see "Documentation" below for template) to the Steering Committee for evaluation. The meeting may also be used for personal and career-related questions (for a catalog of suggested questions see "Mentoring" below)
  • annually: participation in the 2-day CSP retreat, together with current CS-Fellows, alumni of the program, and members of the Project Committees, the Steering Committee, and the Scientific Advisory Board
  • optional: research stays in Germany or abroad, participation in conferences and further workshops and the invitation of external speakers can be financed by the CSP Rural_Age during the term of the fellowship

Travel Expenses: up to 850 EUR per year are available to the fellows for participation in congresses, cooperation meetings and other scientific events. In addition, the medical faculty awards funds for active participation in congresses (lecture or poster presentation), see travel support Reisekostenunterstützung

Clinical and scientific activities will be documented in separate logbooks during the program; a progress report on the research project will be prepared twice a year at the Project Committee meeting:

  • Scientific Logbook (research results, curriculum and other program-related events and research stays in Germany or abroad or attendance of conferences if applicable
  • Clinical Logbook (kept as part of residency training)
  • Project Committee Meeting Minutes Template (minutes and project presentation are sent as a Progress Report to the Steering Committee twice a year for evaluation)

Fellows are mentored by their chosen Project Committee during the program, which supports them in their scientific, clinical, and personal development and advises them on program related matters (work plans, curriculum). In addition, the CS-Fellows are closely integrated into existing structures in their institute (laboratory or working group, institute seminars), where they can exchange scientific ideas and questions. In addition to the twice-yearly Project Committee meetings, a separate mentoring agreement can be determined with one or more members of the Project Committee. This can support the professional as well as personal exchange through a strengthened relationship of trust. A wide-ranging catalogue of questions offers suggestions for leading the conversation:

The long-term goal of mentoring is to provide the best possible support to fellows in developing their own scientific profile and to point out and promote further career steps (habilitation, professorship, and other leadership positions).

For current additional mentoring oportunities, please refer to KarriereWegeMentoring

Senior Phase: Following the Active Funding Phase
Even after the funding period, the junior researchers benefit from a close integration into the CSP-program and networks. CS-Alumni can continue to participate in the annual CSP retreats (with funding from the medical faculty), courses from the individual curriculum, and the CSP round-table discussions. There is also an opportunity to become a member of the Steering Committee to shape the selection processes and further development of the program. In addition, all CS-alumni are part of the General Assembly, which advises on academic and structural issues.

The accompanying curriculum is divided into compulsory and elective courses. Participation in compulsory courses is obligatory for all scholarship holders (exception: courses marked with * in the overview do not have to be repeated if prior participation can be demonstrated). Any number, but at least one of the elective courses must be attended. The selection is made in consultation with the fellows Project Committee. All attended courses are documented in the scientific logbook (see "During the Program"). Proof of participation (certificates, confirmations of participation) must be submitted by the end of the fellowship. 

Compulsory Courses

  • Statistics, Data analysis
  • Digital health / use of large datasets
  • Scientific writing including publication and grant writing*
  • Project management (internal projects, external grants) and time management*
  • Communication and leadership skills
  • Teaching abilities
  • Patient-oriented clinical research, including training in good clinical practice*
  • Gender equality and family friendly leadership for future research leaders

*courses do not have to be repeated if prior participation can be demonstrated

Elective Courses

  • AMG basic course
  • AMG advanced course
  • MPG basic course
  • MPG advanced course
  • Clinical trial design and workflow of investigator-initiated clinical trials
  • Study design techniques and procedures
  • Animal handling and welfare, with certificate FELASA
  • Genetic engineering
  • Applied data analysis and statistics
  • Basic programming
  • Machine learning in medicine and applied bioinformatics
  • Planning to have it all: personal skills for balancing family and scientific career

UMG considers the support of gender equality in science and the implementation of the DFG's research-oriented gender equality standards as central tasks. In the CSP Rural_Age, the aim is to achieve a gender balanced ratio of participants. In the selection process, preference is given to women with equal qualifications. As part of the accompanying curriculum, one offering from the topic area of gender equality must be attended. The UMG expressly welcomes applications from female scientists in particular, and supports them in reconciling their further scientific qualification with starting a family. Advanced training courses, seminars and accompanying events take place at family-friendly times. Innovative working time models and part-time work are explicitly supported in both clinical and research activities.

At UMG, the family-office Familienbüro is available as a central point of contact to provide uncomplicated assistance and make information on a wide range of topics accessible. The employees of the family-office actively support, for example, the search for a childcare place or advise on emergency and out-of-hours childcare.

Participation in a structured coaching program for women Coaching Programm für Ärztinnen at Universität Greifswald is supported. For current additional mentoring oportunities, please refer to KarriereWegeMentoring


Dr. Karen Scholz
Scientific Coordinator of the Clinician Scientist Program Rural_Age

E-Mail: KarenAnne.Scholzmed.uni-greifswaldde


Prof. Dr. Agnes Flöel
Dean of Research and Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology

Tel.: +49 3834 86-6800 bzw. 86-6815
E-Mail: agnes.floeelmed.uni-greifswaldde
Administration: anne.schultzmed.uni-greifswaldde