The EC funded Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) Carthago project is an international PhD programme on non-viral gene therapy in regenerative medicine for osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc degeneration coordinated by the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU). Together with 8 academic and 4 non-academic partners across 10 EU countries, it offers a unique opportunity to excellent PhD candidates (early stage researchers, ESRs) to to gain experience and skills with short-term selected secondments within a world class consortium.
The overall goal is to address the applicability of gene therapy in osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration from all perspectives, including optimisation of cell delivery, gene expression and tissue penetration. The approach of the consortium is to design cutting-edge technology with respect to biomaterial aided delivery of gene expression regulators.
Within the Carthago consortium, several ESRs will work across several WPs to ensure interdisciplinary cohesion in the project. Physicists will get acquainted with the biology and biomechanics of cartilage and intervertebral disc tissue to understand the requirements for penetrating ultrasound protocols, but also with nucleic acid chemistry to tune release from circulating albumin. Biomaterials and nucleic acid scientists likewise will obtain in depth knowledge on the requirements for successful targeting and delivery of nucleic acids to cartilage and IVD cells, including statistical design tools. Imaging scientists will acquire the disease models required for determining efficacy of the delivered nucleic acids and collaborate with chemists to set up in vivo imaging tools based on novel click chemistry technology. Finally ESRs will participate in setting up an educational framework for “on the job” ethics education.
- ESR1: Oligo and plasmid modification (Uppsala University, Sweden)
- ESR2: Hydrogels and NIR probes (Uppsala University, Sweden)
- ESR3: Optimization of 20Med Nanogel carriers for intra-articular/-discal delivery (20MED, Netherlands)
- ESR4: Design of dendrimer-based vectors for nucleic acid delivery to cartilaginous tissues of the joint and IVD (INEB, Portugal)
- ESR5: Optimisation of particle and hydrogel preparation and performance(UMCF, Romania)
- ESR7: Design and labellng of nucleic acid-binding albumin (Albumedix, UK) (through University of Aarhus website)
- ESR8: Ultrasound for enhanced tissue delivery (Aalto University, Finland)
- ESR15: Ethics parallel research framework in biomedical treatment development (UJ, Poland)
- 25 October, 2020: Application deadline
- November 2020: Start appointment selected ESRs (between 1 November 2020 and 1 February 2021).
In accordance with the very strict EC Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions ITN eligibility criteria:
- Candidates did not reside or carry out their main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the host country for more than 12 months during the 3 years immediately prior to the start of their Carthago appointment (time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account).
- Candidates are in the first 4 years of their research careers at the start of their Carthago appointment (full-time equivalent research experience, measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree
- Excellent proficiency of the English language (both oral and written),
- The ability to work in a multidisciplinary team. Excellent communication skills and cooperation skills are required,
- An inquisitive mind-set, accuracy and self-reliance are very important. You are required to be flexible and mobile, including willingness to travel to other partners for 1-4 month secondments,
- High interest in receiving training from supervisors from different institutes, disciplines and sectors,
- High motivation to contribute to the dissemination of results and outreach to both specialists and the public at large,
- Enthusiasm to visit Consortium Partners for secondments (internships). ESRs will benefit from a dedicated training program in the various fields of expertise of the consortium partners.