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CSC-Tübingen PhD Program: Project 08/2024: Role of selective free fatty acid transport in insulin resistance and development of type-2 diabetes.
Topic Description: Exposure to increased saturated free fatty acid (FFA) levels in vivo or in vitro is associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress, inflammation and oxidative stress which lead to insulin resistance. Unsaturated FFAs have beneficial effects and even prevent the insulin resistance induced by saturated FFAs. In this study, we will investigate the molecular players that enhance unsaturated FFA uptake. Moreover, we aim to differentiate FFA processing in insulin sensitive and insulin resistant human adipocytes using stable isotope labelling, followed by lipidomics analysis. Complementary transcriptomics experiments will be performed to assess gene expression changes upon FFA treatment. These experiments will establish novel pathways that selectively uptake/utilize unsaturated FFAs and identify lipidomic/transcriptomic signature that is responsible for insulin resistance in adipocytes.

Faculty: Faculty of Medicine
Institute/Section/Subject: Internal Med IV/ Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases
Supervising Professors: Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Birkenfeld, Dr Gencer Sancar

About the Supervisors: Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Birkenfeld is the director of Clinic for Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nephrology at University Clinic Tübingen and Dr. Gencer Sancar is the Junior Group Leader focusing on the role of adipose tissue in insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. Our research group is interested in molecular and physiological pathways involved in insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. We study different plasma membrane transporters as targets for therapeutic interventions in type-2 diabetes, obesity, and associated metabolic comorbidities. We are particularly curious how liver and adipose tissue communicate in the context of metabolic disease processes. Further information on the lab can be found at:;
Degree: PhD

Requirements for the application:
Required Degrees: MSc in Biology or related discipline (e.g. Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biomedical Engineering)
Language Requirements: Proof of proficiency in English on at least C1 level and fluency in speaking.
Notes: Looking for highly motivated candidates interested in metabolism and type-2 diabetes. The candidate could expect a highly supportive environment for his/her scientific development.

For further instructions on how to apply, more information on the program and contact details please see below.


CSC-Tübingen PhD Program
The China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the University of Tübingen have established a PhD Program which supports Chinese nationals inside and outside of China wishing to carry out all or part of their PhD study in Tübingen.


  • providing high quality research training to qualified students from Chinese universities
  • developing education and research collaborations between the University of Tübingen and Chinese universities and research institutions

Target group:
Excellent postgraduate and doctoral students from the People's Republic of China.

Funding line A - Full time fellowship:
  • postgraduate students who want to carry out their complete doctoral studies at the University of Tübingen
  • up to 48 months
  • degree conferred by the University of Tübingen
  • Annual living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government (which includes Overseas Student Health Cover)

Funding Line B - Part time fellowship (sandwich model):
  • doctoral students who want to carry out their research and studies alternatively at their home universities and the University of Tübingen. They follow a schedule set in advance by both the Chinese supervisors and supervisors at the University of Tübingen
  • 6-24 months in Tübingen
  • degree conferred by the Chinese home university
  • Annual living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government (which includes Overseas Student Health Cover) for 6-24 months

Funding for both Funding lines includes:
  • Return airfare to Germany
  • Visa application fees
  • Support for the attendance of international conferences during the second and third year (up to 1000€ granted to successful applicants)

Benefits for both funding lines:
  • Tuition waiver
  • Option to take German language classes provided by the University of Tübingen during the first year
  • Accommodation offered in Tübingen student dormitories depending on availability
  • Opportunities to gain additional teaching and research experience as well as economic benefits from the University of Tübingen from the second year onward (depending on the ability of the applicant and the situation of the respective institute)

Application Process:
  • Jan 15: Application deadline. Applications must be handed in through the online application system of the University of Tübingen
  • by March 10: Successful applicants will be officially informed
  • by March 31: Invited applicants have to register with the CSC according to the regulations of the CSC.
  • by May 31: Final decisions about the allocation of scholarships will be made by the CSC
  • by Oct 1: Program participants arrive in Tübingen
  • Successful candidates must return to China upon completion of their studies.

How to Apply:
In order to apply you need to upload the following documents combined in 1 PDF
  • Cover/Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Research proposal (3-5 pages)
  • Academic transcripts* (if you have not yet completed your Master's studies, please submit a confirmation of studies and an up-to-date transcript of records)
  • Proof of proficient English language skills (i.e. comprehension of a wide range of demanding, longer texts as well as fluent and spontaneous expression allowing a flexible and effective language use for social, academic and professional purposes.) - TOEFL iBT 95 or IELTS 6.5 or equivalent

*List of required Academic transcripts (including official translation into German or English for documents issued in Chinese)
1) Bachelor’s Degree Award Certificate / Bachelor Gradverleihungsurkunde (学士学位证书 xueshi xuewei zhengshu)
2) Bachelor's Degree Certificate/ Abschlusszeugnis (毕业证书 biye zhengshu) für das Bachelorstudium (本科 benke)
3) Transcript of the subjects and marks / Fächer- und Notenübersicht (成绩表 chengjibiao) for your Bachelor’s degree/ für das Bachelorstudium (本科 benke)
4) Master’s Degree Award Certificate / Master-Gradverleihungsurkunde (硕士学位证书 shuoshi xuewei zhengshu)
5) Master’s Degree Certificate/ Abschlusszeugnis für das Masterstudium (硕士研究生毕业证书 shuoshi yanjiusheng biye zhengshu)
6) Transcript of the subjects and marks for your Master’s Degree / Fächer- und Notenübersicht für das Masterstudium (硕士研究生成绩表 shuoshi yanjiusheng chengjibiao)

For questions please contact:
(Ms) Tetyana Tonkoshkur
Dezernat II – Forschung
Internationale Forschungskooperation
+49 7071 29-750005
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