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Call for applicants:

1 PhD position in the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie project COLOTAN (Boosting advanced doctoral training in innovative colon targeting drugs)


Applicantions are invited for 1 PhD position (“Early Stage Researcher”, ESR) that will be funded by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission through the Innovative Training Network ‘COLOTAN’.

COLOTAN is a network for “Boosting advanced doctoral training in innovative colon targeting drugs”. Its overarching goal is to provide high-level training to 13 early stage researchers in drug delivery, drug disposition and gastrointestinal (GI) (patho)physiology to improve targeting of drugs to the colon and to provide them with the transferable and scientific skills necessary for a successful career. This international training program, combining 10 countries, focuses on innovative technological and scientific developments across a range of interdisciplinary fields such as (physical, analytical and organic) chemistry, drug delivery, drug disposition, cell biology, gastroenterology, microbiology and modelling and simulation. The aim of this project will be achieved by a unique combination of intersectoral research training facilitated by 10 beneficiaries (7 academic and 3 non-academic) and 6 partner organisations. The COLOTAN consortium consists of leading research groups from universities and from innovative pharmaceutical companies.

Each of the 13 ESRs will be working towards a PhD degree, supported by a carefully chosen supervisory team that maximizes both scientific excellence as well as interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration. The 13 COLOTAN ESRs will not only receive state-of-the-art science/technology training but will also benefit from a unique soft-skills training programme. The interdisciplinary and inter-domain training will make COLOTAN ESRs highly employable in various industries or academia.


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Key background info


COLOTAN wishes to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. Recruitment targets ESR backgrounds in:

  1. – Organic synthetic Chemistry
  2. – Biomedical Sciences
  3. – Molecular biology
  4. – Pharmaceutical sciences
  5. – Biochemistry
  6. – Microbiology
  7. – Cell biology

In total 13 ESRs will be recruited that will work at the 10 beneficiaries across Europe.

We expect that applicants hold a university degree that qualifies them for doctoral studies at their recruiting organization. Solid written and oral communication skills in English are prerequisites of any successful application (typically IELTS min. 7, TOEFL internet-based min. 90 or similar level as proven by other tests). Every applicant can apply for up to three ESR positions (first, second, third choice)


Career Stage

Early Stage Researcher (ESR) or 0-4 yrs (Post Graduate)


Benefits and salary

The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for ESRs. The fellowship will consist of a competitive salary. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on local tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in the different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if married or in a relationship with equivalent status). The guaranteed PhD funding covered by the training network is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding, additional funding is possible, depending on the local Supervisor, and in accordance with the regular PhD time in the country of origin). In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences.


Selection Process

All applications proceed through the on-line recruitment portal on the website. Candidates apply electronically for one to maximum three positions and indicate their preference. Candidates provide all requested information including a detailed CV – Europass format obligatory – and motivation letter. During the registration, applicants will need to prove that they are eligible (cf. ESR definition, mobility criteria, and English language proficiency). The deadline for the on-line registration is 01 March 2021.

The COLOTAN Recruitment Committee selects between 20 and maximum of 30 candidates for the Recruitment Event which will take place in Leuven, Belgium (unless COVID19 imposes an online event). The selected candidates provide a 20-minute presentation and are interviewed by the Recruitment Committee. Candidates will be given a domain-relevant peer-reviewed paper (prior to the recruitment event) by their prioritised Supervisor and will be asked questions about this paper during the interview to check if the candidate has the right background/profile for the ESR position. Prior to the recruitment event, skype interviews between the Supervisors and the candidates are recommended. In order to facilitate their travel, selected candidates (from outside Belgium) receive a reimbursement up to 500 euros against costs (paid by the inviting Supervisor). In order to avoid delays in reimbursements, candidates are asked to keep all invoices and tickets (cf. train, plane, hotel…). The final decision on who to recruit is communicated within one week after the Recruitment Event. The selected ESRs are to start their research as quickly as possible (target: June 2021).


Applicants need to fully respect three eligibility criteria (to demonstrated in the Europass cv):

Early-stage researchers (ESR): ESRs are those who are, at the time of recruitment by the host, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided and should not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

Conditions of international mobility of researchers: Researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of selection by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

English language: Network fellows (ESRs) must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the network training.

The available PhD position to cooperate in a European Network and follow a dedicated training program


ESR3: Evaluate the usefulness of innovative orally administered modified release dosage forms for removing potentially harmful agent(s) from the lower intestine

ESR3: Evaluate the usefulness of innovative orally administered modified release dosage forms for removing potentially harmful agent(s) from the lower intestine

Host: National And Kapodistrian University Of Athens, Greece

PhD awarding institution: National And Kapodistrian University Of Athens, Greece

Main Supervisor: Christos Reppas (NKUA)

Co-supervisors/mentors: Maria Vertzoni (NKUA), Jody Voorspoels (EUR)

Secondment partners: Eurofins (supervisor: Jody Voorspoels) and ELPEN Pharma (Supervisor: A. Papalois)

Expected Results: 1. A material that is safe to be administered to humans and adsorbs an EU approved antibiotic for human use, based on in vitro data collected under simulated colonic conditions. 2. Prototype MR dose units which contain the adsorbing material 3. Proof of concept using the Landrace pig model

Objectives: To propose and evaluate (proof of concept) of novel oral antibiotic delivery methodology which allows for removing the unabsorbed antibiotic from the lower intestine





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This project is to receive funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020,  Grant Agreement No 956851.