IBEC International PhD Programme fellowships

This call is currently closed

The IBEC International PhD Programme aims to train the next generation of researchers in bioengineering for future medicine, active ageing, and regenerative therapies.

In 2021, five fellowships will be offered. Four funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the ‘Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores’ 2021 call and one funded by IBEC.



About the IBEC International PhD Programme fellowships

In 2021, five fellowships will be offered. Four funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the ‘Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores’ 2021 call and one funded by IBEC.

IBEC is one of the top research institutions named as a Severo Ochoa Research Centre by Ministry of Science and Innovation (in charge of research and innovation policy in Spain), which recognizes excellence at the highest international level in terms of research, training, human resources, outreach and technology transfer. The Severo Ochoa award provides 4m€ over 2020-2024 to implement IBEC’s Research and Human Resources Programmes.

The IBEC International PhD programme fellowships offers a 4-year predoctoral contract with the following gross annual salary:

–             16.250€ for the first two years.
–             17.410€ for the 3rd year.
–             21.760 € for the 4th year.

Moreover, 6.860€ are also offered for mobility and training during the 4-year period.

PhDs coming from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation fellowship, funded through the “Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2021” of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, who finish and defend their PhD thesis before the start of the month 43 of the fellowship will be able to sign a 1-year postdoctoral contract (POP) with a gross salary of 21.760€.

Download complete information about the programme here.







  • Candidates should be ready to enter an official doctoral programme in October 2021 (under Spanish Law). By this time, they must have obtained a university degree and a master’s degree; or must hold an official university qualification from a country of the European Higher Education Area with a minimum of 300 ECTS of official university studies, of which at least 60 are at master’s level.
  • Candidates are eligible for a period of 2 years following the end of the MSc or 5 years following the end of the BSc at the time of deadline (March 26, 2021).
  • Candidates must have a strong commitment to scientific research and an excellent academic record.
  • Candidates must have good working knowledge of English.
  • Candidates must not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must not have held a PhD contract exceeding twelve months in September 2021.
  • Candidates must not have held any fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness for the development of a PhD thesis at the time of deadline (March 26, 2021).




IBEC groups

PhD research projects

In the online application form, you will be asked to indicate your preference of up to three research groups.

If you are preselected for an interview, you will have the chance to discuss the different PhD projects with the group leaders responsible, and decide which project you prefer.

The proposed topics are orientative, they will be discussed with the group leader.


PhD projects:

  • Super-resolution microscopy to track nanoparticles in cells and design novel nanoparticle-based drug-delivery carriers
    Group: Nanoscopy for nanomedicine
    Group leader: Dr. Lorenzo Albertazzi (lalbertazzi@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • A mechanistic study of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity: model of entry, tropism, and development of novel antiviral drugs
    Group: Molecular Bionics
    Group leader: Dr. Giuseppe Battaglia (gbattaglia@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Deep Mutagenesis to understand amyloid nucleation in neurodegenerative diseases
    Group: Protein phase transitions in health and disease
    Group leader: Dr. Benedetta Bolognesi (bbolognesi@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Aptamer-based inhibition of vesicle trafficking as a new therapeutic strategy against malaria
    Group: Nanomalaria
    Group leader: Dr. Xavier Fernàndez-Busquets (xfernandez@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Correlative Electrical and Mechanical Scanning Probe Microscopy for Life Science Applications
    Group: Nanoscale bioelectrical characterization
    Group leader: Dr. Gabriel Gomila (ggomila@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Noninvasive control of brain activity in vivo using photoswitchable drugs
    Group: Nanoprobes and nanoswitches
    Group leader: Prof. Pau Gorostiza (pgorostiza@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Development of Machine Learning based Predictive Models for Metabolomics: correction of instrumental shifts and confounding factors
    Group: Signal and information processing for sensing systems
    Group leader: Dr. Santiago Marco (smarco@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Advanced magnetic resonance methods for personalised medicine.
    Group: Molecular Imaging for Precision Medicine
    Group leader: Dr. Irene Marco-Rius (imarco@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Development of a  bioprinted intestinal tube-on-chip for a realistic in vitro model of the gut mucosa to model inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    Group: Biomimetic systems for cell engineering
    Group leader: Dr. Elena Martínez (emartinez@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Engineering human organoids to understand COVID19 disease
    Group: Pluripotency for organ regeneration
    Group leader: Dr. Nuria Montserrat (nmontserrat@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Integrating biomechanics, nanophotonics, and nanomedicine to better understand and treat rare and common lipidosis-related diseases.
    Group: Targeted therapeutics and nanodevices
    Group leader: Prof. Silvia Muro (smuro@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Development of muscle-on-a-chip models to study neurodegenerative diseases
    Group: Biosensors for bioengineering
    Group leader: Dr. Javier Ramón (jramon@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Undestanding human tauopathies by using lab on chip devices
    Group: Molecular and cellular neurobiotechnology
    Group leader: Dr. José Antonio del Río (jadelrio@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Understanding the role of nuclear mechanotransduction in models of breast cancer
    Group: Cellular and molecular mechanobiology
    Group leader: Dr. Pere Roca-Cusachs (proca@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Nanoscale regulation of stem cell-matrix interactions in organoid formation: applications to musculoskeletal tissue
    Group: Nanobioengineering
    Group leader: Prof. Josep Samitier (jsamitier@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Hybrid nano-micro and millimeter-scaled robots for biomedical applications
    Group: Smart nano-bio-devices
    Group leader: Prof. Samuel Sánchez (ssanchez@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • New strategies to combat bacterial biofilms during chronic infections.
    Group: Bacterial infections: antimicrobial therapies
    Group leader: Dr. Eduard Torrents (etorrents@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Engineering the shape and mechanobiology of intestinal organoids and tumoroids
    Group: Integrative cell and tissue dynamics
    Group leader: Prof. Xavier Trepat (xtrepat@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Decision-making in synthetic autonomous agents
    Group: Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS)
    Group leader: Prof. Paul Verschure (pverschure@ibecbarcelona.eu)
  • Boosting responses to immunotherapies in lung cancer by reprogramming tumor-associated fibroblasts
    Associated Researcher: Dr. Jordi Alcaraz (jalcaraz@ibecbarcelona.eu)
    Co-supervior: Dr. Joan Montero/ Prof. Josep Samitier
  • Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of the early stages of human life
    Group: Bioengineering in reproductive health
    Group leader: Dr. Samuel Ojosnegros (sojosnegro@ibecbarcelona.eu)

How to apply

Which documents and information do I need to provide with my application?

From 1st Feburary to 26th March 2021, an online application form   will be available through IBEC International PhD Programme dedicated site.

You will be required to provide the following information in your application:

  • Personal data and CV
  • Cover letter, including motivation for applying
  • A scan of your Certified Academic Record, showing grades obtained (degree and masters). If these are not in Catalan, Spanish or English, applicants should attach a translation in one of these languages.
  • Education experience: what, when and where you have studied. In order , to standardize the final marks in your application form, we will need that you submit your educational certificate using the relation of scales of foreign grades to the equivalent Spanish grades provided by the General Secretariat of Universities of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (instructions and template included in the application form) and the ranking of your university according to the Times Higher Education. 
  • Explanatory document certifying that the candidate is eligible to apply for a doctoral programme when the number of ECTS does not appear in the Certified Academic Record. This explanatory document may be an official description of the country’s educational system issued by the university or published on its website, or the admissions requirements to the university’s doctoral programme.
  • Research experience.
  • Current Status.
  • Publications, Presentations in conferences, Awards/fellowships.
  • 2 letters of recommendation from lecturers or researchers with whom you have studied or worked and who can judge your potential as a PhD student. Only letters with official letterhead and signature will be accepted. Reference letters cannot be provided by IBEC’s Group Leaders or associated researchers that will be the future supervisors of the fellow. Please be sure to inform your referees that their letters must be uploaded in the online application tool before the deadline (March 26th 2021).





Useful dates

  • February 1st, 2021: Launch of the call.
  • March 26th, 2021: Deadline for submission of applications.
  • March 27th– April 15th ,2021: Check of eligibility Criteria.
  • April 16th – May 7th, 2021: Evaluation of the candidates’ CVs.
  • May 12th – 13th, 2021: Communication of results of the evaluation of the candidates’ CVs. Invitation of shortlisted candidates for an online interview.
  • May 14th – 27th, 2021: Shortlisted candidates will be asked to contact the IBEC supervisors and get to know their research and PhD project.
  • May 28th – 31st, 2021: Shortlisted candidates will present a final ranked list of their preferred PhD research projects and supervisors.
  • June 1st – 4th, 2021: Online interviews with the selection committee.
  • June 7th – 12th, 2021: Publication of final list of selected candidates. Letter of acceptance to be signed by candidates.
  • From November 2021: Start of the research assistant contract.
Selection procedure

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee made up of IBEC group leaders and administration staff.

Applicants CVs will be reviewed in terms of academic record, research experience and additional merits.

In mid-April, results will be communicated. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to contact their preferred group leaders and get to know their research lines and the PhD project. This will serve to evaluate the knowledge and expertise of the candidate related to the particular research project and his/her adequacy to the corresponding research group.

After the talks with the PIs, candidates will be asked to make a final ranked list of their preferred PhD research projects and supervisors.

In May, online interviews of shortlisted candidates will be held. Interviews with the selection committee will evaluate following competencies: communication, critical and analytical thinking, team and collaborative working, commitment, proactivity and open mind.

The interview will also be an opportunity for the candidate to expose any personal requirement or clarify doubts.

On June 7th–12th 2021, the results of the call will be published, and the acceptance letters will be sent to the candidates with the highest scores.

In order of evaluation score, they will be able to choose their final PhD Project and supervisor, taking into account that each PhD research project can only have one fellowship, so if a candidate with a higher score chooses a particular PhD research project, candidates with lower scores will have to choose another one from their list of preferred PhD projects and supervisors.

Fellows should expect to take up their positions at IBEC from Novembre 2021 until April 2022. Please note these are tentative dates and they are subject to the Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores’ 2021-call from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.  

Applicants who have not been successful but have received a positive evaluation will be put on a waiting list for future positions.

IBEC is committed to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (The Charter & Code).

In 2015, IBEC gained the HR Excellence in Research Award in recognition of our ongoing commitment. At the mid-term evaluation in 2017, IBEC was successful in retaining the award.

Our Recruitment and Selection Policy is based on the OTM Strategy (Open, Transparent and Merit-based recruitment) www.ibecbarcelona.eu/jobs/ and accept applications without distinction on any grounds. Candidates with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Our commitment to OTM-R principles can also be found in our Gender and Diversity plan.

In line with the principles defined in the OTM-R procedure, selection processes are governed by the following principles:

  • Transparency throughout the whole process
  • Equal opportunities in the selection and hiring of personnel
  • Non-discrimination on grounds of sex, age, ethnic, national or social origin, religion, sexual orientation, language, disability, political opinions or social and economic condition
  • Merit based evaluation
  • Confidentiality as the cornerstone of the selection process
  •  Principle of public dissemination of the selection processes, which must also be internationally comparable

Life at IBEC

Living with us: Training, mobility and social activities

IBEC encourages its PhD students to participate in various activities, such as workshops,
discussions and outreach events, in order to develop themselves as international researchers.

IBEC Seminars and PhD Discussions

Our regular IBEC Seminars invite top names in bioengineering and nanomedicine from all over the world to help keep us up-to-date on the state-of-the-art of research in the field. IBEC seminars also offer the opportunity to network and discuss recent developments, fostering internal and external interaction and opening doors to future collaborations.

IBEC researchers also have the chance to learn from their colleagues at the PhD Discussions series of talks and skills sessions. These provide a forum for PhD students to present the results of their research and discuss them with each other, as well as with more experienced researchers. Outside speakers are also invited to help IBEC’s students in their career development by delivering talks on complementary skills such as entrepreneurship and career mobility.

The institute also holds an annual symposium on bioengineering and nanomedicine, as well as hosting and organizing several project-based or general scientific meetings and workshops throughout the year.

Practical training

Thanks to IBEC’s interdisciplinarity, the most recent technical and technological approaches developed for research in biology and the biomedical sciences are available at the institute. PhD students can acquire experience and practical training in both the classical approaches and new methodologies in imaging techniques, nanomaterials technology, nanofabrication, biosensors, biosignal interpretation, lab-on-a-chip approaches, and many more.

Complementary skills training

Besides the mandatory doctoral courses offered by the universities, IBEC offers several training courses specifically devoted to PhD students and early postdocs, covering such topics as Scientific writing, Effective communication, Leadership, Guidance for women in their research, How to publish in high ranking journals, Preparing a PhD thesis, Presentation skills in English, Career development, Diversity and cross-cultural awareness in research, Entrepreneurship or Technology transfer.

All courses in complementary and transferrable skills are designed to enhance future employability and career progress.

Outreach activities

As part of its mission, IBEC aims to inform society about the research being carried by its scientists in bioengineering and nanomedicine, both to help citizens understand the importance of research and make informed decisions, and to encourage young people to consider scientific careers.

To do this, the institute organizes or takes part in a range of outreach activities throughout the year. IBEC’s PhD students are required to volunteer for these activities, as they offer the perfect opportunity to gain experience in explaining your research in terms that a lay audience can understand, a skill that is essential for your career in areas such as achieving funding for projects.

IBEC’s outreach activities include group visits from schools, universities and other organizations, one-on-one mentoring, workshops for teachers, science fairs and festivals, talks in public spaces, Open Doors days, and many more.

Research Placements

As part of their training, young researchers are encouraged to take up research placements in other centres. Thanks to these stays, students benefit from intense transnational and multidisciplinary mobility, as well as the expertise and facilities of the best institutions worldwide. Such mobility provides them with multicultural skills, including languages, and proves highly beneficial in crossing cultural borders and enhancing their future employability in a globalised job market.

Placements take place in any of the many institutions with which our researchers collaborate, including but not restricted to centres linked to IBEC by strategic research agreements or funded exchange programmes such as Marie Curie or the Networks of Excellence. These stays have the added value of enabling PhD students to obtain an international PhD, a recognised distinction which significantly improves their chances of a successful career.

IBEC PhD Students’ Committee

The PhD Students’ Committee is a group of highly motivated representatives of different research groups at IBEC, mainly graduate students, that work voluntarily with two major aims: to be the voice of the PhD students inside the institute, and to improve the PhD experience. The Committee works jointly with IBEC’s support service units to organize workshops, courses and seminars in response to the PhD community’s needs and requests. Social and sports activities where students can relax and mingle with others, such as bowling, tennis table and beach volley, are held frequently too. The representatives of the Committee convene regularly with HR and the Directorate to organize all these activities, as well as to pass on ideas and suggestions from the young IBEC community.



Results of the 2021 call
5 candidates have been granted a PhD fellowship to develop their PhD at IBEC within the IBEC International PhD Programme 2021:


Alejandro Llorente Álvarez
Marina Placci
Julia Alcacer Almansa
Karolina Zimkowska
Joaquín Martínez Tambella







I still have questions!

If you have any further questions about the IBEC International PhD Programme fellowships, or if there are particular issues you’d like to discuss regarding your application, please contact phd@ibecbarcelona.eu.