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12 PhD positions for MSCA Doctoral Network CohesiNet

12 PhD positions for MSCA  Doctoral Network CohesiNet

12 positions open for doctoral candidates (DCs) to begin in September/October 2023, as part of the Horizon Europe Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Doctoral Network (HE-MSCA DN) of the European Commission entitled “Cohesin and its regulators: from chromosome dynamics and nuclear architecture to human diseases”.

The offered positions will all last 36 months and will allow all the recruited researchers to be enrolled in local PhD schools and to participate in an exciting multidisciplinary research programme that will enhance their career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sector. In addition to their individual projects, all the DCs will benefit from a dedicated training programme consisting of local and network-wide training activities aimed at improving their scientific knowledge and transferable skills.

The CohesiNet consortium includes the following 10 European institutions: 

  • Istituto di Biochimica e Biologia Cellulare del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IBBC-CNR), Naples, Italy;
  • MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom; 
  • IFOM ETS, Istituto Fondazione di Oncologia Molecolare, Milan, Italy; 
  • Centre de biologie intégrative - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CBI – CNRS), Toulouse, France; 
  • Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Instituto Gubenkian de Ciência (FCG - IGC), Oeiras, Portugal;
  • Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna, Austria;
  • Lumicks B. V. (LUMICKS) Amsterdam, Netherlands;
  • Amsterdam University Medical Centers (VUMC), Amsterdam, Netherlands;
  • Plasticell Ltd (PLASTICELL), Stevenage, United Kingdom;
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), Madrid, Spain.

Project background and aims

Cohesin is an evolutionarily conserved multi-protein complex that belongs to the structural maintenance of chromosomes protein family. It can topologically entrap DNA molecules mediating sister chromatid cohesion, a function important for accurate chromosome segregation and DNA replication/repair. It has been recently discovered that cohesin can generate and maintain DNA loops by an ATPase-dependent in cis DNA tethering activity, called loop-extrusion, critical for organising chromatin architecture and regulating gene transcription, and as such thought to be important for cell differentiation and development. However, the molecular mechanisms by which the cohesin complex achieve these key cellular functions remain to be elucidated. Mutations in genes coding for cohesin and its regulators lead to a class of developmental disorders collectively called “cohesinopathies” and have been found in several types of cancer. Nonetheless, the pathogenesis of these devastating human diseases is poorly understood.

CohesiNet aims to answer outstanding questions in the field of cohesin biology by a highly innovative research programme. This consortium will investigate fundamental mechanisms on how cohesin acts during chromosomal cohesion and loop extrusion, identify regulatory modules of cohesin functions and get insights into the molecular bases of cohesin-related diseases. These ambitious goals will be achieved using multi-disciplinary hypothesis-driven and exploratory approaches while promoting a culture of communication and cooperation among academic and private institutions across the European Union. A team of ten PhD students will be trained by the CohesiNet consortium to address these scientific questions and be empowered with skills that will enhance their career perspectives, while experiencing first-hand the value of Open Science and the importance of inclusion, transparency, accessibility and integrity in scientific research.


The following PhD positions are available:

PhD positions

Position 1

Project title: oppRole of DDX11, the Warsaw breakage syndrome DNA helicase, at the interface between chromosomal cohesion and replication 
Supervisor: Francesca Pisani (, Istituto di Biochimica e Biologia Cellulare - Consiglio Nazionale Ricerche (IBBC – CNR), Naples, Italy
: molecular biology, gene editing, cell biology, protein/protein interaction analysis
Lab webpage:


Position 2

Project title: In vitro reconstitution of the de novo human cohesin loading pathway operating at the DNA replication fork
Supervisor: Castrese Morrone (, Istituto di Biochimica e Biologia Cellulare - Consiglio Nazionale Ricerche (IBBC – CNR), Naples, Italy
Keywords: molecular biology, correlative optical tweezers fluorescence microscopy for single-molecule studies, biochemistry
Lab webpage:


Position 3

Project title: Structural biology of DNA loop extrusion by cohesin
Supervisor: Jan Löwe (, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Keywords: cryo-EM, in vitro reconstitution, biochemistry
Lab webpage:


Position 4

Project title: Cohesin-mediated processes regulated by associated chromatin remodelling complexes
Supervisor: Dana Branzei (, IFOM ETS, Istituto Fondazione di Oncologia Molecolare, Milan, Italy
Keywords: cohesion, chromatin remodelers, cohesin dynamics, sister chromatid resolution, mitotic condensation
Lab webpage:


Position 5

Project title: In vivo imaging of cohesin-mediated loop extrusion during DNA double strand break repair
Supervisor: Gaëlle Legube (,Centre de biologie intégrative - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CBI – CNRS)Toulouse, France
Keywords: DSB repair, cohesin dynamics, live-cell imaging, Hi-C
Lab webpage:


Position 6

Project title: Novel regulators of sister chromatid cohesion
Supervisor: Raquel Oliveira (, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Instituto Gubenkian de Ciência (FCG - IGC), Oeiras, Portugal
Keywords: mitosis, genetic screens, live-cell imaging analysis, cohesin regulators
Lab webpage:


Position 7

Project title: Molecular mechanisms that control DNA loop extrusion by cohesin
Supervisor: Jan-Michael Peters (, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna, Austria
Keywords: atomic force microscopy, biochemistry, biophysics, cohesin, CTCF, DNA loop extrusion, FRET, mechanism, MINFLUX, single-molecule imaging, cryo-EM
Lab webpage:


Position 8

Project title: Dynamic single-molecule studies of cohesin: using optical tweezers to analyse cohesin dynamics on single DNA molecules and single chromatin fibres
Supervisor: Mattijs De Groot (, Lumicks B. V. (LUMICKS) Amsterdam, Netherlands
Keywords: single-molecule methods, optical tweezers, fluorescent microscopy, cell biology, molecular biology,biochemistry
Lab webpage:


Position 9

Project title: Cohesin (mal)functioning in cohesinopathies
Supervisor: Job de Lange (, Amsterdam University Medical Centers (VUMC), Amsterdam, Netherlands
Keywords: cohesinopathies, gene editing, disease modeling
Lab webpage:


Position 10

Project title: Roles of newly discovered DNA replication and transcription regulatory genes essential for survival of ESCO2 and DDX11 deficient cells
Supervisor: Rob Wolthuis (, Amsterdam University Medical Centers (VUMC), Amsterdam, Netherlands
Keywords: DNA replication, gene transcription, cohesin biology
Lab webpage:


Position 11

Project title: Development of stem cell-based models of cohesinopathies in vitro
Supervisor: Marina Tarunina (, Plasticell Ltd (PLASTICELL), Stevenage, United Kingdom
Keywords:  induced-pluripotent stem cells, cell differentiation mechanisms; cohesinopathies; disease modeling, CombiCult® platform 
Lab webpage:


Position 12

Project title: Crosstalk of cohesin and Polycomb in differentiated and cancer cells
Supervisor: Ana Losada (, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), Madrid, Spain
Keywords: 3D genome organization, (epi)genomics, molecular biology
Lab webpage:


  • 3-year full-time employment contract in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action regulations
  • Monthly living allowance: 3,400 euro/month (€ 40,800/year); this amount is then adjusted through the application of a country correction coefficient to the living allowance of the country in which the researcher is recruited. The country correction coefficients are indicated in Table 1 of the MSCA Work Programme
  • Monthly mobility allowance: 600 euro/month
  • Monthly family allowance, if applicable and depending on the family situation: 660 euro/month
  • Enrollment in a local PhD school 
  • Access to state-of-the-art research and supervision by recognized experts
  • Participation in network-wide training activities, workshops and conferences
  • Secondments periods at other network partners’ labs

Recruitment calendar:

  • Call opening: 1st February 2023
  • Deadline for applications: 2nd April 2023
  • Remote evaluation: 3rd – 30th April 2023
  • Interviews: 2nd May 2023 – 20th June 2023
  • Notification to candidates: 30th June 2023
  • Start date of the fellowship: September/October 2023

Additional comments

Candidates are invited to send the following documents to:

Francesca M. Pisani, Istituto di Biochimica e Biologia Cellulare - CNR, Naples, Italy, Coordinator of the CohesiNet Doctoral Network; e-mail:

  1. A CV including personal information (such as full name, date of birth, nationality and contact details); education and work experiences language skills and other relevant skills; indication of at least two scientists for reference letters
  2. A certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of exams taken with relative mark. A certified/signed copy of Master of Science certificate. 
  3. List of positions each candidate is interested in. Please choose between 3 (minimum) to 12 positions (if applying to all projects), indicating their order of preference (nr 1 should be the preferred one), using the reference for each project.
  4. Motivation letter (maximum 2 pages) highlighting your research experience and academic achievements and explaining why you are interested in the CohesiNet program and in the selected research projects.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the supervisors by email to discuss the details of the projects, before applying.