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When conflicts arise

Important contacts, links and guidelines

The MDC aspires to provide a good working environment for all staff – through an outstanding infrastructure and open scientific exchange, but also as a research organization characterized by tolerance, respect, diversity, professionalism, personal integrity, and good interpersonal relationships.

When people work together, problems are not only inevitable but also normal. What’s important is to find amicable solutions early on in order to ensure high motivation and productivity as well as everyone’s well-being. This requires respectful and trusting communication. At the MDC we collectively shoulder the responsibility of providing all staff a workplace free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. Our guidelines help us doing so.

We encourage everyone to address any conflicts that may arise and, if necessary, involve senior staff or other points of contact. When problems occur, the MDC offers points of contact that staff can trustingly turn to for help and advice.


Our guidelines

In 2016, the MDC Board of Directors and the Staff Council jointly adopted and published guidelines entitled “Noticing and dealing with conflicts.” These guidelines cover issues such as the emergence of conflicts, the responsibility of supervisors, conflict management, bullying, sexual harassment, and training for handling conflict.

The MDC does not tolerate any form of harassment and will investigate any reports received about possible incidents, with priority being given to protecting the victim. The MDC has published guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment.

We also recommend the guidelines issued by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency.


Rules for good scientific practice 

Honesty with oneself and others is one of the fundamental principles of science. The MDC places a high value on compliance of our researchers with the relevant rules.

The Research Ombudsman is the first point of contact in such matters. 

MDC Ombudspersons


Ombudsman for issues of good scientific practice


Key contacts and links

The Staff Council is the independent advocate for all MDC employees, responsible for representing their interests to the employer. It is comprised of 13 members, who are elected every four years by MDC staff. The role of the council is to support and advise all staff members and to function as an intermediary between employees and the Board of Directors. 

Please send an email to: personalrat@mdc-berlin.de


PhD students can, for example, contact the Graduate Office with general questions or reach out and discuss issues with representatives from their own ranks. In addition, the PhD Ombudspersons are available to assist with any difficult situations. They are impartial and independent, are elected by the study body, and provide support and informal advice. The Ombudspersons work with those affected to find strategies to resolve their conflicts. They can also arrange meetings and facilitate contact with other official mediators. Whatever is discussed remains confidential if the student so chooses.

Head of the Graduate Office

PhD Representatives


Helmholtz Juniors

Website Helmholtz Juniors



The postdoc represantatives are a support network for postdoctoral students at the MDC: postdocrep@mdc-berlin.de

There is also a Postdoc Association at the MDC.


Head of the Postdoc Office

Please send an email to: postdocoffice@mdc-berlin.de


Equal opportunity for men and women is important to us. There is still a balanced proportion of women and men during the dissertation period. However, the percentage of women drops during the postdoc phase – and women only hold 15 to 20 percent of senior research positions in Europe. This leads to a huge waste of talent in research and the workforce. We as a research organization equally value the potential of both sexes and seek to leverage this potential. The Women’s Representative and her deputies are working to make equal opportunity a reality, for example, by improving the compatibility of career and family.

A project called “LIBRA” has examined how gender equality has been addressed so far in Europe while also looking into what can be done better. The MDC has participated in this project as a member of the EU-Life alliance.


Women’s Representative


Discrimination comes in many forms. According to Germany’s General Equal Treatment Act, anyone who feels discriminated against on the basis of their race, ethnic background, gender, religion, belief, disability, age, or sexual identity may lodge a complaint with the competent authority. 

Complaints office


In addition to the persons mentioned above, there are other contact persons who are committed to fair and professional cooperation.

Officers and Representatives at the MDC

Foto: © rclassen / photocase.de