Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN at Early Stage Researchers (PhD Students ) on mechanobiology of lung and heart in health and disease (Ref. «Phys2BioMed-ESR8)

Innovative Training Networks (ITN)
Call: H2020‐MSCA‐ITN‐2018



Biomechanics in health and disease: advanced physical tools for innovative early diagnosis
Start date of the project: 01/01/2019
Duration: 48 months

Description of the ESRs’ Project
The position is opened to carry out interdisciplinary research at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) jointly with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona (UBar). The research is aimed at studying mechanobiology of lung and heart in health and disease, under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Navajas (IBEC – UBar), and Prof. Ramon Farré (UBar).

Project of fellow ESR8
Project Title. Tissue and ECM mechanical fingerprints of lung cancer
Start date. September 2019.
Objectives. To define differential mechanical properties of tissue and extracellular matrix (ECM) of lung tissues samples obtained from lung cancer.
Expected Results. The study will be carried out in tissue samples obtained from different murine models and from patients. Standardised protocols for preparation of lung tissue samples obtained from biopsies for AFM measurements. Characterisation of viscoelastic properties of normal and cancer lung ECM and tissue. Mechanical heterogeneity of normal and cancer lung tissues. Correlation between mechanical properties, molecular composition and structure of ECM of normal and cancer lung tissues. Mechanical fingerprints of parenchymal tissue and acellular ECM in lung cancer.

Research group
The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) is a research institute covering most bioengineering fields, from basic research to medical applications, aiming to act as an international reference in this field.  The group of Prof. Navajas focuses its research on the study of the mechanical behavior of the respiratory system, and how it is altered in respiratory diseases. The main goal is to gain a deeper understanding of cellular and respiratory biomechanics to improve the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases. The research has basic and translational approaches in a multidisciplinary framework involving close cooperation with clinical groups. The group apply atomic force microscopy (AFM) and other cutting-edge biophysical and biological techniques to study the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix and their impact in cell behavior. The group has a well-equipped lab to perform multiscale biomechanical studies including commercial and custom-built AFMs coupled to inverted confocal microscopes,  cell and molecular biology techniques and equipment to perform animal studies. Moreover, IBEC provides comprehensive core facilities in nanobiotechnology and mechanobiology.

Candidate profiles
We are looking for excellent and highly motivated candidates with a degree in engineering or physics, and strong interest and experience in biophysics, bioengineering and related disciplines. Expertise in atomic force microscopy will be appreciated. We expect dedication and enthusiasm for experimental research, combined with openness and curiosity, and the ability and willingness to team work in an interdisciplinary environment. Skills in instrument development, data analysis and in scientific numerical environments (for example Python, Labview, Matlab etc) will be appreciated.

Appointment and enrolment in a PhD programme
The successful candidates will be employees of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and will be paid in accordance with the MSCA rules. The contract period will be for 36 months. The candidate will be enrolled in the PhD programme in Biomedicine (Biomedical Engineering track) of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of the Universitat de Barcelona under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Navajas and Prof. Ramon Farré. Phys2BioMed aims at having the positions filled before the end of April 2019, but there is flexibility of an earlier or potentially slightly later start, if required by personal circumstances.

Admission criteria

  • Students must have a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree before the end of the call.
  • Candidates can be of any nationality but need to demonstrate transnational mobility, i.e. must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation (Spain in this case) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.
  • The candidates must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers, and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Good proficiency in written and spoken English is required (level B2).

The suitability of the foreign academic qualifications in terms of content is appraised by the Evaluation Board constituted for admission to each PhD program, in compliance with the regulations in force in Spain and in the country in which the academic qualification was issued, and the international treaties or agreements pertaining to the conferment of qualifications for the continuation of studies.

How to apply
The applicant must send the following documents (in pdf format, included in a single zipped file attachment) by May 15th, 2019 to the attention of Prof. Daniel Navajas ( with subject “Phys2BioMed-ESR8”; please send a copy of the document also to the coordinator Prof. Alessandro Podestà (

1) an updated CV;
2) a personal motivation letter;
3) at least 2 reference letters (in English), at least one of them from one former supervisor and/or lecturer;
4) a scanned copy of the degrees, which would formally entitle him/her to embark on a doctorate in Spain.
5) a document indicating his/her ranking and marks at his/her Bachelor and Master Degrees, with a list of the courses/modules they have attended.
6) a copy, or a summary, of the Master Degree thesis, or a brief description of the past scientific activity.

Phys2BioMed is devoted to promote gender equality and diversity and encourages female researchers to apply.

Assessment criteria
Applications must be in English and will be evaluated against the following criteria:
– educational record;
– scientific quality of the applicant’s CV;
– expected individual impact and benefit to the fellow and to the project. – previous experience in the subject of Phys2BioMed research program.

Eligible candidates will be interviewed, possibly by means of web-conferencing tools.

For more information, contact Prof. Daniel Navajas at and/or the Coordinator Prof. Alessandro Podestà at