MDC-Weizmann Helmholtz International Research School for Imaging and Data Science from the NAno to the MESo

Mission & program

Imaging is an indispensable component of biological research and personalized medicine.

New molecular and cellular insights obtained from imaging technologies should be integrated with data science into a coherent picture of tissues, organs and organisms, with a goal of prevention, early interception and treatment of diseases.

To contribute to this goal, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine; the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel; the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin have joined forces to establish iNAMES - MDC-Weizmann Helmholtz International Research School (HIRS) for Imaging and Data Science from the NAno to the MESo.

The mission of iNAMES is the training of outstanding imaging and data scientists in a truly international research school, along with answering some of the most important biomedical research and clinical challenges of our time. 

The focus of iNAMES Research School lies in the development of an independent, interdisciplinary research project, supported by an international tandem team of mentors from partner institutions from Germany and Israel.

The contribution of participating labs through complementary research studies, models and technologies ensure highly innovative, interdisciplinary projects in the areas of:

  1. Development of next generation imaging technology, methodology, imaging markers and (nano)molecular probes, including MRI and high-end optical imaging
  2. Advancement of computational sciences, imaging data sciences, artificial intelligence, machine learning, biophysics and mathematical models
  3. Application of imaging and data science in molecular medicine, biology, life sciences and mechanistic biophysical research
  4. Swift translation into clinical imaging, large population imaging and public health sciences

The joint effort brings together the understanding of the mechanisms by which diseases originate from defects at the molecular and cellular levels, with developments in techniques that characterize how the cells and their molecular machinery functions at the nanoscopic level, and with emerging non-invasive methods that relate the characterization of tissues and major organ systems at the mesoscopic level.

Examples of cross-domain project topics, combining multiscale imaging with model based analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

iNAMES Research School

The iNAMES program framework includes the following key elements:

  • PhD research is carried out within a joint project, closely supervised by a tandem German-Israeli team of research mentor/ co-mentors
  • Personalized research training in a collegial environment, characterized by scientific excellence and innovation
  • iNAMES-specific scientific program, including annual symposia and regular workshops, which provide a forum for networking and exchange of ideas
  • Individual Development Plan to support personal career goals, by identifying the specific needs and by promoting and assessing the acquisition of relevant competences
  • Access to the well-established program of Helmholtz Skill Courses, supporting further interdisciplinary networking within the Helmholtz Association

We do not only provide our students with a peer network and practical scientific training, but also offer an outstanding opportunity to actively participate in the international scientific community, all ensuring a timely completion of the dissertation. Our overarching goal is to equip our graduates with the critical skills essential for life-long learning, enabling them to successfully compete in any international job market.



The iNAMES PhD researchers are mentored by a tandem of a primary mentor and a co-mentors from partner institutions in Germany and Israel. The mentors support the preparation and implementation of the research project, assist in developing the Individual Development Plan (IDP), introduce to their own professional networks and advise on future plans and career goals.

Besides day-to-day mentors supervision, iNAMES doctoral researchers present their project annually to the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), which accompanies them from the first presentation of the research proposal to the preparation of the doctoral thesis. The primary mentor and a co-mentors, together with an additional scientist, form a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC).

Research visits and mobility


International and cross-disciplinary mobility of scientists between partner sites is of crucial importance for the success of the iNAMES. Joint PhD projects are carefully set-up to enable the contribution of participating labs through complementary research, ensuring highly innovative, interdisciplinary projects.

The iNAMES Research School supports short-term stays to learn particular techniques (e.g. for 2-4 weeks) as well as extended stays (e.g. to work on research sub-projects in collaboration with a partner lab, for up to 6 months).

Each iNAMES student is expected to spend at least 2 weeks a year in the partner lab abroad.

To further increase the visibility of iNAMES within the research community, all doctoral researchers are encouraged to network and present their research at international conferences, supported by iNAMES travel and training grants.



iNAMES doctoral researchers are fully funded through an initial 3-year employment contract with the MDC. iNAMES provides funding for a duration of three years, with a possible fourth year needing to be financed by the primary mentor, in accordance with recommendation of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) members. All doctoral researchers are expected to complete their doctoral research and thesis in 4 years.

Salaries are competitive to national standards, according to 65% TVöD 13 (monthly net payment of approximately 1600 EUR). Health and social insurance are included in the contract. The university tuition fees per semester are approximately 350 EUR, and include public transportation ticket.


Training & Events

iNAMES Research School offers advanced, structured and integrated training program with a strong focus on biomedical imaging and data science, in a highly interdisciplinary environment.

Upon completion of the iNAMES training, the graduates:

  • will have outstanding expertise in imaging modalities, imaging applications, image analysis
  • are experts for the design of molecular and cellular imaging assays for the study of biological systems
  • are ready to contribute to the growth and development of physical or computer sciences
  • will progress life sciences and healthcare
  • have a strong foundation for transition into a position as an independent researchers in the field
  • have developed skills in scientific reasoning and logic, problem solving, interpersonal communication
  • are educated in principles of responsible research and innovation
  • are well versed in research integrity, ethics, and equity
  • are ready to take leadership positions in industry and academia
  • will fill the gap of severe shortage of biomedical imaging and data science experts

Scientific Development


The iNAMES scientific program is designed to provide doctoral researchers with advanced training on state-of-the-art imaging and data science technologies

A spectrum of iNAMES training activities includes lecture series, student seminars, on-site courses, e-learning courses, hands-on practical seminars, and various scientific events, such as joint international PhD retreats and summer/winter schools. The iNAMES school furthermore organizes hands-on sessions at imaging centers, visits to our clinical partners (Charité and Sheba Medical Center), as well as company visits (e.g. to Siemens, Bruker, Nikon, Zeiss and local start-ups), to foster practical competencies and the entrepreneurship spirit of our doctoral researchers.

To further increase the visibility of iNAMES within the research community, all doctoral researchers are encouraged to network and present their research at international conferences, supported by iNAMES travel and training grants.

Key Competences


Becoming an expert in a specific scientific domain or technology is an important, but not the only aspect of the iNAMES training program. With a growing number of PhDs following careers outside of academia, it is crucial to foster a wider range of personal skills and to introduce relevant career pathways as early as possible.

Our doctoral researchers take responsibility for their professional growth by developing and implementing an Individual Development Plan (IDP). This includes a research plan, training activities, as well as personal skills assessment and progress plan, enabling planning and monitoring of academic and personal development. The IDP is adapted throughout the PhD, particularly as a part of the progress review at the annual TAC meetings.

Peer Mentor Group is introduced as an additional measure to support career development, providing a platform for open discussions on professional and personal skills needs, peer advice on career options, or matters of work/ life balance, and facilitating the integration of iNAMES researchers visiting from partner institutions.

Career Orientation Workshops inform about the available career choices and assist with decisions about the next professional steps.

Technology Transfer Training is essential in preparing for careers both in and outside of academia. The MDC and WIS Technology Transfer Offices offer regular courses and workshops on IPR, patenting, avenues for commercialization of research, translating research into a product, translating basic research into real-world clinical applications, and similar. 

Extracurricular and student-organized activities, such as organization of scientific events, teaching at the Life Science Learning Lab “Gläsernes Labor” on the Berlin-Buch campus, participation in public outreach activities during, e.g., “The Long Night of Sciences”, organization of social events, and similar, contribute to the development of the students’ professional skills. These activities are further facilitating the integration of international students, creating a particularly welcoming and lively atmosphere on the campus.


iNAMES Kick-Off 

Despite current circumstances for initiating and driving an international exchange research program, we dived into this task with dedication, passion and optimism. To share our enthusiasm with the community, we organised a virtual kick-off event in September 2021, aiming to introduce the concept of the iNAMES Helmholtz International Research School, its mission and plans for the future, as well as to present the first cohort of our PhD students and their exciting research projects. 

As part of the Frontiers in Biomedical Imaging and Image Analysis Lecture Series at the MDC, we were very much delighted to welcome Wojtek James Goscinski from the Australian National Imaging Facility. He provided a fascinating keynote on Crossroads of Data Science and Imaging: Infrastructure and Applications.


iNAMES Symposia

The annual iNAMES Symposia, organized alternating between Berlin and Rehovot, gathers a wider scientific and industrial community, stimulating discussion, collaboration and networking between the iNAMES doctoral researchers, faculty, and representatives of industry partners.

More experienced doctoral researchers present their research, providing insight into the state-of-the-art technology developments, while at the same time gaining valuable presentation skills and teaching experience.

A “science café” open to the general public supplements the scientific program of the annual symposia, providing a platform for science communication and outreach.

Summer and Winter School

Furthermore, faculty members and doctoral researchers gather at annual summer/ winter schools, dedicated workshops on current advanced topics in imaging and data science. To minimize travel time for participants, networking workshops will be organized in conjunction with the annual symposia.

International PhD Retreat

PhD retreats bring together doctoral researchers from partner institutions, providing opportunities to network, exchange ideas and experiences, brainstorm, establish collaborations and form friendships. Doctoral researchers are actively involved in the organization of these meetings, thus developing their organization and project management skills.





Marius Weismehl

Project: Exploring the molecular mechanism of guanylate-binding proteins at high structural and temporal resolution
Mentor: Oliver Daumke, MDC
Hagen Hofmann, WIS

iNAMES offers a truly interdisciplinary environment by providing its members with expertise from diverse research fields.
Marius Weismehl Daumke Lab

Guanylate-binding proteins are key to cell-autonomous immunity against microbial and viral pathogens. Exploring the molecular mechanism of guanylate-binding proteins requires a set of structural biological approaches in combination with biochemical and cell biological approaches. To this end, we will perform X-ray crystallography, cryo electron microscopy and tomography, single-molecule FRET, and membrane binding and remodeling assays. 



Nandita Saha

Project: Development, validation and application of magnetic resonance radiofrequency coil technology: New instruments to define the role of MR imaging markers in biological systems and disease
Mentor: Thoralf Niendorf, MDC
Lucio Frydman, WIS

The best thing about being part of an exchange program is, it creates awareness and acceptance of alternative together with multi-faceted approaches of learning and gaining knowledge.
Nandita Saha
Nandita Saha Niendorf Lab


My project is to develop and implement of radiofrequency (RF) coil technology, which will provide rich opportunities for new ways of non-invasive mapping and probing morphology, function, physiology and metabolism and facilitates explorations into the benefits and challenges of ultrahigh field Magnetic Resonance (UHF-MR) with the ultimate goal to spatially resolve and characterize (patho)physiological processes and biophysical mechanisms to promote a transfer from basic research to clinical science and vice versa.



Igor Tellez

Project: Where is the pain in the brain?
Mentor: Thoralf Niendorf, MDC
Co-mentor: TBA; WIS

The international collaboration and teamwork not only contribute to achieve a highly enriched project, but also allow me to get to know a different culture.
Igor Tellez
Igor Tellez Niendorf Lab

The project focuses on identifying functional biomarkers for pain to enhance our understanding of pain processing. Despite substantial progress in recent medicine, it is still not understood how pain is processed in the brain. We have no objective biomarkers to assess pain in the patient. Pain cannot be evaluated in comatose or demented patients, and its subjectivity puts an enormous psychological burden on chronic pain patients. 



Gamze Güney

Project: Optical imaging and activation of thermal perception
Mentor: James Poulet, MDC
Ofer Yizhar, WIS

Getting to know other groups and working in different institutes is great for creating networks, which can lead to beautiful collaborations and opportunities.
Gamze Güney
Gamze Güney Poulet Lab

The ability to perceive temperature helps animals to maintain the homeostasis of body temperature, to avoid noxious temperature that may cause damage, and to identify objects during haptic exploration. My aim in this project is to understand the neural mechanisms of temperature perception in the mouse forelimb system. I plan to use a combination of approaches including two-photon calcium imaging, optogenetic manipulations and behavioural training, to investigate how the thermal cortex represents skin temperature and how this information is translated into thermal perception.



iNAMES faculty

The joint German-Israeli faculty includes distinguished scientists whose scientific expertise covers a broad spectrum of modern imaging, computational and life sciences.

The international faculty represents a healthy mix of junior (45%) and senior scientists (55%) from multiple disciplines, ranging from imaging, physics, mathematics, computational sciences, bioengineering, biochemistry and pharmacology to biology, molecular medicine, systems medicine, cardiology, neurosciences, epidemiology and public health. Female scientists comprise 38% of the members of the faculty, while the iNAMES board includes 50% female spokespersons. 20% of the faculty are MDs, which provides an excellent framework for PhD/MD tandems and translational projects.


Research Groups


Technology Platforms

Join us!

To alleviate the surging incidence of the world’s deadliest diseases, the development of new strategies for early detection and treatment is of utmost relevance. 

This can only proceed by deepening our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms and pathophysiological processes, calling in turn for new ways to visualize complex biological systems and to image disease states at various length- and time-scales. 

If you are enthusiastic and passionate about tackling these challenges, join us!

The next iNAMES recruitment will be held within the MDC Fall 2022 recruitment round.

Applications will be open May - July 2022.


We offer:

  • Excellent scientific, international and supportive environment 
  • Individual PhD supervision & dual mentoring by the experts from two leading institutions in the field, supported by the thesis committee
  • Research visits and short-term (1-4 weeks) or long-term (up to 12 months) exchange stays at partner institution abroad
  • Annual symposia and research winter & summer schools, as well as participation in PhD retreats & networking social events
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure & core facilities
  • Regular lectures, journal clubs & seminar series 
  • Advanced scientific, research-related & methods training
  • Framework program for personal & career development
  • Travel grants for external courses & conferences

Who are we looking for? 

To apply, a master’s degree (or equivalent) in physics, mathematics, computer science, data science, biophysics (biomedical) engineering, biology, bioinformatics, molecular medicine, or a related field, is required. You should hold or expect to obtain your degree not later than four months after the onsite interview week in Berlin (see below for the exact interview dates). Please check further details of your Eligibility for application here.

Details on the Recruitment process can be found here. Please make sure to check the FAQ section, as well.

Please note: due to the COVID-19 epidemiological measures and the unpredictable development of the situation, the timeline of the iNAMES recruitment, as well as its format, is subject to changes.

How to apply? 

iNAMES recruitment process is a part of recruitment for the International PhD Program at the MDC Berlin.

Applications are accepted exclusively via our online Application portal. Applications via email can unfortunately not be accepted. Detailed information about the application process, including Application manual, are available here




For general inquiries, please contact:

Dr. Sanja Drakulic

Phone: 030 9406-4254

Max-Delbrück-Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC) 
Robert-Rössle-Str. 10 
13092 Berlin, Germany


For any science-related questions, please contact one of the iNAMES spokespersons:


Prof. Dr. Thoralf Niendorf (Max-Delbrück Center)

Prof. Dr. Jeanette Schulz-Menger (Charité)

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Edda Klipp (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Prof. Dr. Lucio Frydman (Weizmann Institute of Science)

Prof. Dr. Michal Neeman (Weizmann Institute of Science)



Dr. Sanja Drakulic

Phone: 030 9406-4254

Max-Delbrück-Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC) 
Robert-Rössle-Str. 10 
13092 Berlin, Deutschland

Building 84, Room 1015