12 Doctoral Candidate (PhD) positions

12 Doctoral Candidate (PhD) positions are open in the project Cellular Homeostasis ANd AGing in Connective TissuE Disorders (CHANGE), in which Institut Imagine is a partner. Apply before September 30, 2022

Published on 04.08.2022

Imagine Institute

CHANGE is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Network (MSCA-DN) focused on investigating connective tissue (CT) disorders to identify key players in age-related decline in physiological functions to develop therapeutic strategies and identify treatment targets for common diseases and frailty associated with aging. It is part of Horizon EUROPE programme of the European Union and 12 Doctoral Candidates (DC) will be appointed for 36 months each.

CHANGE project - summary

Lifespan has significantly increased but age-related disorders severely limit healthy aging and quality of life, and are a serious burden for the society. Musculoskeletal, cardio- and cerebrovascular failure are hallmarks of physical and cognitive decline in the elderly, but importantly, are also common traits in several early onset hereditary connective tissue disorders.

In CHANGE, 12 young scientists will combine skills in musculoskeletal and vascular developmental and cellular biology and pathobiology related to aging, with expertise in cell culture, animal models, -omics, innovative high-resolution imaging and functional techniques. Exchange of knowledge and multidisciplinary collaboration between these fields of research and partners within the consortium will provide the skills, multidisciplinary knowledge and on-the-job training experience necessary to tackle the main aspects of biology of aging and age-related disorders affecting bone, cartilage, muscle and vasculature.

PhD positions

The consortium consists of partners from academia and industry with excellent scientific qualifications in multiple disciplines. In total, there are 12 open PhD positions for DCs within CHANGE. Each DC will be appointed at one of the consortium partners but secondments and regular meetings will be performed at other partners to ensure multidisciplinary training and close collaboration.

An ideal DC candidate will hold a Master’s degree with excellent marks from her/his previous studies and experience in one or more of the relevant broad research fields will be an advantage. Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are essential. The DCs will start their projects between September 2022 and March 2023.

University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy  – Prof. Antonella Forlino and Prof. Antonio Rossi – 2 DC positions

DC1 (Supervisor Prof. Forlino) will deeply phenotype a murine model of osteogenesis imperfecta to investigate the aging effect of misfolded collagen type I on multi-organ failure.

DC2 (Supervisor Prof. Rossi) will use a murine model of diastrophic dysplasia (DTD) to define the macromolecular sulfation role in aging of the musculoskeletal system.

University of Padova, Padova, Italy – Prof. Paolo Bonaldo – 1 DC position

DC3 will focus on genetic muscular diseases linked to collagen VI deficiency to investigate the transduction mechanisms of collagen VI in disease & premature ageing.

The DC will use the available Col6a1−/− mouse model mimicking human muscular diseases to correlate the progression of phenotypes (apoptosis, autophagy, proliferation/stemness, and senescence hallmarks) during ageing in skeletal muscle and associated vascular system, and patient-derived cell cultures to evaluate the translational potential of the identified hallmark features. 

Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany – Prof. Frank Zaucke and Dr. Zsuzsa Jenei-Lanzl – 2 DC positions

DC4 (Supervisor Prof. Zaucke) will dissect the contribution of different tissues to osteoarthritis (OA) in age-dependent and post-traumatic OA focusing on extracellular matrix (ECM) changes, chronic and hormonal stress and signalling pathways.

DC5 (Supervisor Dr Jenei-Lanzl) will investigate the role of the aging autonomic nervous system in intervertebral disc and facet joint degeneration and subsequent genesis of low back pain.

IMAGINE Institute, Paris, France – Prof. Laurence Legeai-Mallet -  1 DC position

DC6 will investigate relevant cellular and mouse models of hypochondroplasia (HCH) which is a rare form of FGFR3-related dwarfism in humans. This work will elucidate the impact of FGFR3 on articular cartilage, bone formation and bone repair and will decipher regulatory network during aging. Preclinical studies will be conducted to evaluate drug (s) efficacy.

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Lyon, France – Dr Florence Ruggiero – 1 DC position

DC7 will use zebrafish, an emerging model for the study of human diseases, to investigate the progressive pathophysiological mechanisms of collagen VI-related myopathies in aging. An already available zebrafish line harboring a deletion in col6a1 that is the most frequently mutation found in Bethlem myopathy patients (col6a1Δex14) and new lines will be used to characterize pathophysiological mechanisms underlying disease progression and to test putative therapeutic molecules.

EVERCYTE, Vienna, Austria – Dr. Regina Grillari and Prof. Johannes Grillari – 1 DC position

DC8 will use extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stem cells obtained from different sources as senomorphic and/or enhancers of primary cilia function in connective tissue diseases. MSCs from 5 different sources have been immortalized using telomerase overexpression and are already available for the project.

LifeTec Group, Eindhoven, The Netherlands – Dr. Linda Kock – 1 DC position

DC9 will develop ex vivo disease models to study osteochondral disease progression and repair. Animal and human ex vivo (OA) biopsies will be used to address the question of how the mechanical environment affects healthy and/or diseased cartilage and/or bone and to assess novel treatments/therapies by making use of sophisticated bioreactor technology.

MEDETIA, Paris,  France – Dr. Jean-Philippe Annereau and Dr. Luis Briseno-Roa – 1 DC position

DC10 will study the role of primary cilia in mechanisms of aging. Screening of novel therapeutic drugs modulating cilia/senescence/autophagy engagement as well as the role of primary cilia formation, and centrosomal protein recruitment associated as cell biomarker of senescence and autophagy in healthy and disease will be addressed.

University of Newcastle, Newcastle, England – Dr. Katarzyna Pirog and Prof. Michael Briggs – 1 DC position

DC11 will focus on the investigation of the role of KIF22 in development of musculoskeletal tissues. KIF22 is not only the disease gene causing Spondyloepimetaphyseal Dysplasia with Joint Laxity type II but also potentially involved in the formation of primary cilia and in cilia-associated transport mechanisms. The available knock in mouse and zebrafish models will be used.

University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland – Prof. Tom Van Agtmael and Prof. Colin Selman – 1 DC position

DC12 will focus on the investigation of the interaction between aging and collagen IV in age-dependent vascular disease. Mutations in collagen IV cause early onset cerebrovascular disease including stroke and small vessel disease, while common genetic variants are a genetic risk factor for stroke in the general population. Small vessel disease is the leading cause of vascular dementia and affects 80% of the population age 65 and older.

This cross-disciplinary project will use mouse models to investigate the interaction between effects of aging and genetic risk factors on vascular function and structure to identify novel treatment strategies for small vessel disease.

MSCA-DN eligibility criteria

There are strict eligibility requirements for the DC positions in a MSCA-DN. Please ensure that you qualify before applying, as ineligible candidates cannot be considered.

  • Applicants should not have resided or performed their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of the host institution for more than 12 months in the 3 year period immediately prior to the start date of the PhD research.
  • Applicants for the DC positions should be in their early research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctorate.

MSCA-DN offers an attractive salary and working conditions. A unique feature of MSCA-DN is that during the PhD research, DC PhD students will be given the opportunity to perform secondments at the facilities of other consortium members.

DCs will benefit from a dedicated training program in the various fields of expertise organized and provided by the consortium partners. Salary is complemented with a mobility allowance. 

For more information on MSCA-DN, visit http://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/index_en.htm


To apply for this position, send your CV, motivation letter and at least a reference letter to the following email address: change_project.msca@unipv.it

Please state the DC reference (CHANGE DC number) in the subject line. If you would like to apply for more than one position, please indicate your first and second preference.

Short listed Applicants will be interview by the Trainee Committee.

The application deadline is September 30, 2022. DCs will begin their projects between September 2022 and March 2023.

Skill requirements

  • MSc, MRes, MEng, or equivalent in Life Science (Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics, etc), Bioengineering, Physics or a related discipline.
  • Wet-lab experience in life science, Bioengineering, Physics or a related field
  • Interested and motivated to work in the field of age-related decline in physiological functions and of development of therapeutic strategies and identification of treatment targets for common diseases and frailty associated with aging.
  • Appreciation for interdisciplinary work and proactive drive to collaborate across disciplines
  • Applicants whose first language in not English may need to meet the English language requirements of the institute.