Scientific Visitor Programme

Enabling external scientists and students to benefit from new collaborations, technologies and state-of-the-art equipment

EMBL Sabbatical Visitor Fellowships

Calling for applications for funding from eligible external scientists in close collaboration with an EMBL hosting team/group leader for a sabbatical visit at one of EMBL’s six sites.

Scope of the fellowship

EMBL is among the world’s highest ranked scientific research organizations aimed to explore the secrets of life. EMBL integrates 27 member states and employs close to 1800 people across its six research sites in Heidelberg, Barcelona, Grenoble, Hamburg, Cambridge (Hinxton) and Rome. It is headquartered in Heidelberg (Germany) and integrates both research groups and state-of-the-art core facilities. 

With the successful implementation of EMBL’s research programme – “Molecules to Ecosystems”, an increased emphasis has been placed on facilitating exchange of scientific ideas and transfer of skills between external scientists who are recognized experts in their field of research, and the wider scientific community at EMBL with the objective to significantly augment the ongoing research at EMBL across sites.

The EMBL Sabbatical Visitor Fellowship, offered through the Scientific Visitor Programme (SVP) aims to directly contribute to this objective and targets applications from eligible external independent scientists (see criteria below) wishing to spend between a period of between three and six months on sabbatical based at any one of EMBL’s six sites. This should happen  in collaboration with at least one EMBL team/group leader who will act as a primary host. 

The fellowship aims to invite applications that clearly demonstrates a mutual benefit to both a sabbatical visitor and EMBL – with a focus on a high level description of the visitors’ scientific strengths and topic area(s) they seek to impart knowledge on, the EMBL groups they seek to network with and expertise/knowledge/methods that they might wish to learn while on your sabbatical stay at EMBL. While particular project(s) may be mentioned in brief as illustrative examples, this is not meant to be the central goal of their sabbatical stay as we seek to leave room for organic and serendipitous interactions which can prove mutually inspiring and forge strong connections for the present and the future with the visitors research group and their home institution. 

These competitive fellowships are a standalone scheme for encouraging sabbatical visits across EMBL, and do not preclude the possibility of similar visits being independently organized by EMBL group/team leaders. 

Fellowship features

  • Sabbatical visits should range from a minimum of three to a maximum of six months
  • Up to 15,000 EUR can be awarded considering the quality of the application and the length of stay of the visitor 
  • Fellowships are provided as reimbursement against cost 
  • Applications can also be made requesting funding as top-up to other declared sources of external funding already available to the visitor (note: cannot be combined with other internal EMBL schemes such as Theory@EMBL fellowships)  
  • Sabbatical can be based at any EMBL site/group site and be co-hosted by multiple EMBL groups (with one acting a primary host and point-of-contact)

Evaluation criteria

EMBL promotes and implements equality, diversity and inclusivity measures in its workplace culture, as well as  implementing open science practices as a signatory of DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) which implements fair and responsible research assessment practices

For these fellowships, decisions to award funding to an applicant are made by an expert scientific review committee representing the breadth of EMBL science that carefully examines the following as illustrated through the application:

  • the scientific area of expertise of the applicant and the extent to which it is complementary to existing expertise at EMBL 
  • the proposed scientific activity at EMBL which describes the science of interest to the visitor which they would personally wish to reflect on during their sabbatical, and include topics of common scientific interest discussed with their EMBL host(s) which will be addressed collaboratively
  • the applicants description what their expectations are from a sabbatical at EMBL and why their chosen host(s) are best placed to help achieve this
  • the applicant and host’s commitment to facilitate engagement with the wider community of scientists at EMBL and measures in place to do so 
  • the anticipated cross-fertilisation and transfer of knowledge/technologies/methodologies between the applicant and EMBL
  • the implications of sabbatical time spent at EMBL (e.g., potential for kick-starting long-term relationships with the visitor, their research group and/or their home institution)
  • in case of senior applicants with a solid track record of individual mentorship or institutional leadership: an openness to impart their experience and inspire EMBL fellows, staff and faculty through networking initiatives while at EMBL

Financial aspects

The fellowships aim to support, to the extent possible, extra costs incurred during a stay at EMBL. The following are to be noted: 

  • Discretionary award to a maximum of 15,000 EUR per awardee, always taking into account the quality of the applicant, their application and the length of stay proposed.
  • Reimbursed against cost. No bulk prepayments will be made
  • Caps to travel claims apply based on the home region of the visitor (see list below). Awardees are responsible for planning their stay well ahead of time. 
  • Applications requesting fellowship funding as a top-up to existing external funding should be declared in the application, and cost-estimates should be appropriately adjusted.
  • Subsistence/per diem allowances are not provided as part of the fellowship 
  • The visitor should manage the budget granted to them and organize their tax affairs, social security and health insurance while undertaking a sabbatical visit to EMBL.

Exhaustive list of costs eligible for reimbursement covered (never exceeding the total award granted to the applicant):

  • Travel caps by region: 

€250 –    travel within the same country as EMBL hosting site

€450 –    travel from an European country external to EMBL hosting site country

€1,250 – travel from East Coast USA & Canada, China and Israel

€1,500 – travel from West Coast of USA & Canada and India

€2,000 – travel from rest of the world

The costs of the researcher’s travel (family not covered) to EMBL will be covered at a rate not exceeding that of the most economic, reasonable and rational means of transport.

  • Accommodation (EMBL housing or external accommodation providers)
  • Internal travel between EMBL sites if part of sabbatical plan
  • Monthly travel pass for local public transport at respective EMBL site
  • Visa fee 
  • Childcare costs

Important: Funding support is extended only for the sabbatical visitor and not for traveling family members. The only exceptions are accommodation and childcare costs for family members.


  1. Highly international work environment at a world leading life sciences research organization applying molecular and system level experimental approaches to understand life in a cell to that of ecosystems
  2. Access to all of EMBL’s scientific and social activities such as Unit/group seminars, retreats, staff association clubs etc.
  3. Subsidized or no cost access to local scientific events/conferences 
  4. Logistics support in connection with visit from SVP Office in collaboration with respective Unit administrators
  5. Where feasible, and notified well in advance, advice on childcare/schooling options for accompanying children will be provided to the visitor on request. However, due to constant demand pressure for such facilities and differences in options available between EMBL sites, we are unable to guarantee access.

Important dates

Open: 01 March 2024 

Deadline: 30 April 2024

Assessment and decision: May 2024

Visit start: by 30 June 2025 

Eligibility criteria

  • Open to principal investigators / independent scientists / research team leaders / technical experts all over the world irrespective of  country of origin 
  • The sabbatical visitor is to remain employed and receive a salary from their home institute during the sabbatical

All fellowship awardees must in addition agree to: 

  • present an incoming seminar at the commencement of their sabbatical which covers their science and sabbatical plan (arranged by hosting group leader)
  • present an exit seminar at the end of their sabbatical reflecting on the progress made during their stay (arranged by hosting group leader)
  • complete a short feedback survey at conclusion of sabbatical (SVP office)
  • submit a short reflective report (2 pages) on their stay at conclusion of sabbatical (SVP office)

These contributions are mandatory so as to ensure the continual development of the fellowship scheme and guide improvements where feasible and necessary.

How to apply (step-by-step guide)

  1. Agreement with an EMBL host group/team leader on possibility of a sabbatical visit, including suitable dates of sabbatical stay.

2. EMBL host informs the Head of Unit/site of their intent to host a sabbatical visitor and solicits suitable co-host(s) if necessary.  

3. Sabbatical visitor downloads the application form (top of this page), renames the file to include their name.

4. One or more meetings happen between sabbatical visitor and EMBL host group/team leader.

5. Sabbatical visitor completes Part-A of the application and sends to the primary EMBL host group/team leader –  the partially completed application form, a CV and a letter of support from home institution agreeing to pay their salary during the leave of absence on sabbatical to the primary.

6. EMBL hosting group/team leader completes Part-B of the application form.

7. EMBL hosting group/team leader uploads the application package on Talentlink (link on this webpage directs you to the EMBL jobs site) as follows: EMBL host uses their own information in the personal and diversity section of the job page (including EMBL email) and uploads the sabbatical visitors’ CV in the resume/CV section. In the space for “additional documents”, they upload the fellowship application and the letter of support from the candidates home institution.

8. EMBL host group/team leader receives confirmation of application submission to their EMBL email which they can forward to the candidate for their records.


Should you have any questions, please get in touch with the Scientific Visitor Programme team.

Credit: Holly Jones/EMBL