PhD-fellow in Mussel-inspired thin films for neuronal regeneration

PhD-fellow in Mussel-inspired thin films for neuronal regeneration

11 Nov 2021

ICN2 has published 9 PhD Student open positions under the INPhINIT programme for doing a PhD in a selected research group. Nanosfun is hiring a highly motivated candidate for the project entitled:

Mussel-inspired thin films for neuronal regeneration

Apply before 27th Janaury 2022!

One of the main activities of the Nanosfun group is focused on the development of polymeric nanoparticles and coatings for health and social welfare. For this, we embrace mostly, though not exclusively:

• Nanoparticles for diagnosis and therapy.
• Fine-tuning of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance, biocompatibility or other additional properties via surface (bio)functionalization.
• Thin-films for the regeneration of human cells/tissues allowing for the proper functioning of organs or surgical adhesives and appliance bonding.

To achieve all these objectives, polymers represent the leading biomaterials so far used. They can be designed with a range of architecture, functionalities and appropriate characteristics.

Mussel-Inspired Thin Films for Neuronal Regeneration


Research Project:

The Nanostructured Functional Materials group (Nanosfun) is a research group of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) aimed to develop novel (supra)molecular and polymeric functional nanomaterials with application in Health and Environment.

Specifically, one of our main research lines is the design and fabrication of nanomaterials for tissue regeneration, which has become one of the main branches of medicine aiming to solve a multitude of pathologies caused by irreversible tissue degeneration. Nowadays, there is a blooming of interest with several international initiatives in the area as well as several scientific publications. However, in many cases, their transfer to the clinic is hampered (high cost of production, toxicity and low regenerative activity). For this reason, the development of new materials with outstanding features is a pressing concern. In this scenario, bioinspired materials have emerged as potential candidates. Specifically, materials based on catechol molecules, present in various living organisms (e.g., mussels), have demonstrated unprecedented adhesive properties under wet conditions, biocompatibility, low toxicity and low cost/scalable processes. These excellent features turn bioinspired catechol-based materials unique for their use in tissue regeneration.

Specific case of bone and cartilage regeneration

The Nanosfun group has recently filed a patent on catechol-based thin-films with outstanding regenerative properties, which can be applied as a ready-to-use patch directly to the damaged tissue to be repaired. The group is upfront in terms of publications in the area (being submitted nowadays) as well in nanomedicine, research facilities and collaborations with other national and international research groups. Moreover, we believe in the benefits of transversal research as well as to get our fundamental investigation as close as possible to market devices, the reason why we strongly collaborate with different hospitals and medical companies.

Job position description:

So far, we have successfully tested and validated our approach in different tissues, mainly in cartilage and skin. For this call, we have designed a novel and ambitious but feasible project aimed to promote neuronal stimulation and regeneration to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Precisely, the objective is to generate catechol-based thin-films that support and guide neuronal growth and characterize this biomaterial to elucidate optimal biochemical, thermal, biocompatibility and structural properties. In addition to the fabrication of the membranes, the candidate will also explore their functionalization with active molecules and test the biocompatibility through in vitro cytotoxicity assays. Those films with optimized properties will be finally tested in vivo in murine models. Induced pluripotent stem cell therapy, using the catechol biomaterial as a supportive matrix, will also be used to bridge neural gaps being the outcomes evaluated to ultimately assist the development of catechol matrix strategies in clinical applications.

Nanosfun is investing many efforts in establishing a network with different research groups and hospitals. Among others, Nanosfun collaborates closely with the Institut de Neurociències (INc-UAB), with strong expertise in the nervous and neuronal system. At the hospital level, collaboration has been established with the University of Medicine of Vienna, Sant Joan de Deu, Vall d’Hebron and Bellvitge hospitals. This growing network environment allows for almost covering all the necessary needs to validate the developed technologies, pursuing their clinical translation.

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this PhD project, ranging from chemical synthesis, characterization of new materials to their final application in medicine, the candidate will acquire excellent knowledge and skills that will complete his/her research formation, incentivizing his/her future career.

INPhINIT is a doctoral fellowship programme devoted to attracting international Early-Stage Researchers to the top Spanish research centres. This frame is addressed exclusively to STEM disciplines: life sciences and health, experimental sciences, physics, chemistry and mathematics. The “la Caixa” Foundation promotes INPhINIT to support the best scientific talent and fostering innovative and high-quality research in Spain by recruiting outstanding international students and offering them an attractive and competitive environment for conducting research of excellence.

Check the position here!

Mark it on the calendar:

All the information and applications: Doctoral INPhINIT fellowships and ICN2 careers.

All applications must be necessarily through the website. Other forms of application are not going to be considered.

Deadline: 27th January 2022