Helmholtz Zentrum München is a research center with the mission to discover personalized medical solutions for the prevention and therapy of environmentally triggered diseases and promote a healthier society in a rapidly changing world.

Helmholtz AI is an interdisciplinary research platform that compiles, develops, fosters, and promotes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) methods across the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest research organization. Its central unit is located in Munich, one of Germany's major hubs for AI/ML and most livable cities.

For the Helmholtz AI group headed by Niki Kilbertus we are currently looking for a

PhD student in Causality for out of distribution generalization (f/m/x) 100879

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Image Neuherberg near Munich
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The sciences increasingly embrace machine learning for original scientific discovery and deeper understanding of complex systems. In a collaboration with MILA (Quebec) and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (Tübingen) the Helmholtz International Lab  CausalCellDynamics“ seeks to leverage causal learning to understand gene regulatory interactions from single-cell genomics data. One crucial component are robust models that capture true causal mechanisms from high-dimensional data to generalize beyond the observed distribution and reliably predict the outcome of interventions. The conception and development of such methods is the main focus of this PhD project. To learn more about our young group please visit:

What awaits you

As a member of this group you will conduct basic machine learning methods research. This includes studying the literature, blue sky thinking and brainstorming, interdisciplinary learning, theoretical pen-and-paper analysis, as well as implementing the algorithms. Our research is driven by real-world challenges with the potential for high societal impact, but emphasizes a solid theoretical understanding. The successful applicant will cover a spectrum between theory and application, with plenty of flexibility to adjust projects to their preferences.

We are located at the Helmholtz Center Munich, which focuses broadly on health and biomedical applications. It provides a fantastic environment to tackle scientifically and socially relevant questions in the context of ML for healthcare. Our group is embedded in a thriving ML community in and around Munich with close connections to the Technical University of Munich (TUM, which will be the degree granting University) and the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU). We are part of the Munich ELLIS unit and maintain collaborations with renowned researchers worldwide. Specifically, as part of the Helmholtz International Lab we can collaborate closely with researchers at MILA (led by Yoshua Bengio) and the MPI Tübingen (led by Bernhard Schölkopf).

Your Qualifications

  • MSc (or equivalent) in computer science, statistics, mathematics, physics, bioinformatics, or a related area
  • strong mathematical abilities as well as some coding experience

What we offer you

scientific training
work-life balance
flexible working hours & time off in lieu
30 days annual leave
on-site health management service
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Image discounted public transport ticket

Munich, with its numerous lakes and its vicinity to the Alps, is considered to be one of the cities with the best quality of life worldwide. With its first-class universities and world-leading research institutions it offers an intellectually stimulating environment.

This position also provides the opportunity for you to build specialist knowledge and collect significant professional experience, both of which will help advance your scientific career.

Remuneration and social benefits are based on the collective wage agreement for public-sector employees at federal level (TV EntgO Bund, EG13 75%). The position is (initially) limited to three years, with the possibility to extend by another year.

The candidate is encouraged to join the Munich School for Data Science (MUDS) along with one of the TUM graduate schools. There are no associated teaching duties, but there are many opportunities for those who are interested.

To promote diversity, we welcome applications from people regardless of cultural background, nationality, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, physical abilities, religion and age until 2021-08-16. Qualified applicants with physical disabilities will be given preference.
Applicant guidance on the Corona pandemic 


The application should consist of a single PDF file containing
1) a motivation letter including why you are interested and a long-term research vision (max. 1 page)
2) a curriculum vitae
3) transcripts from previous studies (diploma/degree certificates)
4) two reference letters. If a reference letter is not available to the applicant, it can also be sent by the referee directly to
The starting date is flexible, but should roughly lie between late 2021 or early to mid 2022.

If you have further questions, simply contact Niki Kilbertus,
Helmholtz Zentrum München
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
Helmholtz AI
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 

85764 Oberschleißheim

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