MSCA ITN, PhD Student

Brno, Czech Republic
30 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
31 Oct 2020
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department: ERA Chair - Mary O'Connell Research Group – Central European Institute of Technology
Deadline: 31 Oct 2020
Start date: Negotiable

MSCA ITN – A Unique Opportunity for Prospective PhD Students

The Mary O’Connell RNA and Immunity Research Group at CEITEC Masaryk University will take part in a three-year MSCA ITN project, along with eight other academic research institutions from Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Spain, as well as two biotechnology companies – Immagina Biotechnology from Italy, and EPICS Therapeutics from Belgium. Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) are joint doctoral programmes with a special emphasis on the mobility and professional development of early stage researchers. Doctoral students enrolled in ITN programmes can acquire unique scientific expertise during international research fellowships at partner institutions, as well as benefit from industrial internships at biotechnology companies. The overall ITN project is led by Professor Alessandro Quattrone from the University of Trento and includes twelve different student projects. The CEITEC student project was designed by Principal Investigator Liam Keegan from the CEITEC MU RNA and Immunity group, and will focus on the investigation of epitranscriptomic enzymatic RNA modifications in diseases and promote the development of innovative therapies.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) is an important part of the first pillar of the H2020 programme of the European Union that supports research and innovation. The MSCA program aims to support human resources, mobility, continuing education, and the professional growth of researchers in the European Research Area. International mobility is an essential condition for participation in the MSCA programme. This means that researchers cannot raise funds for research in countries where they are living, working or studying for a long period of time. They need to move to another country (at least temporarily) to deepen their expertise and competence, as well as to exchange knowledge.

Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) focus on boosting the professional growth of early stage researchers. This scheme supports joint doctoral study programmes, including industrial doctorates. PhD students enrolled in this ITN programme will be supervised by experienced supervisors, such as Professor Mary O’Connell and Dr. Liam Keegan from CEITEC Masaryk University, as well as supported by mentors from partner organisations from the University of Trento, Medical University of Vienna, University of Lausanne, International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Umea University, Deutches Krebsforschungszentrum, National Research Council Italy, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Immagina Biotechnology, and EPICS Therapeutics. The students will participate in at least two internships in recognised European laboratories and receive generous PhD scholarships. ITN graduates are internationally competitive researchers with startling career prospects and are easily employable in the academic, as well as private sectors. Interested PhD candidates will be able to apply starting in November 2020 on the CEITEC PhD School Website, in order to start the ITN programme in summer 2021.

Epitranscriptomics: An Emerging Field in RNA Biology

Epitranscriptomics is the study of RNA modifications and their role in the regulation of gene expression. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is regulated by a variety of factors, including developmental cues and environmental stimuli. Alterations in epigenetic control have a role in several complex diseases. The expansion of epigenetics only began with the availability of whole genome sequencing technology that was introduced to clinics just seven years ago. This emerging field is crucial for both basic science and the application to human disease. Epitranscriptomics could provide the missing link between genomic variability and cellular phenotypes, contribute to the explanation of the causes of specific diseases, and help with developing novel therapies. Epitranscriptomic research is currently dominated by the US and China, with the EU lagging behind. The RNA biology experts involved aim to integrate and accelerate research efforts in Europe in this emerging field, and to train a group of competitive early stage researchers. PhD students in this programme will have a unique opportunity to join a network of academic research groups and biotech companies focused on advancing knowledge of the roles of RNA modifications in different diseases and models, and to take an active role in the development of innovative therapies. They will become the seed of European epitranscriptome science during this decade, and investigate disease mechanisms as well as new therapies in the fields of cancer, stem cell diseases, and innate immunity, while developing innovative epitranscriptomics methods.

Application: More information on link

Information about Brno, Czech Republic

  • The capital of South Moravian Region and the second largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of almost 400,000 people
  • Modern, dynamic and fast growing centre of industry, trade, science, research and innovation with business incubators and centres of excellence in science
  • A city of universities with more than 86,000 students
  • More than 10,000 researchers; 2,200 IF publications/year; 600+ PhD graduates/year,
  • 500 mil. EUR of R&D investment per year, more than 350 companies with in-house R&D,
  • City of Gregor Mendel, the founder of genetics; the prestigious Mendel Lectures series takes place in Brno since 2003 (lectures of the world´s top scientists, including Nobel Prize winners),
  • Quality of life index in 2016

For further information about:

CEITEC, please visit
CEITEC Welcome Office, please visit
Masaryk University, please visit
Brno, please visit