Research Associateship – Nanocarriers for Gene Delivery International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory INL Portugal

Ref.05.18.19Bolseiro de Investigação / Research Associateship Nanocarriers for Gene Delivery


Research Centre: International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory - INL

Location: Braga, Portugal

Research Field: Nanocarriers for Gene Delivery

Career Stage: MSc degree

Open date for applications: June6th2018

Closing Date for applications: June20th23:00 WET – Western European Time


The International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory – INL (, was founded under an international legal framework to perform interdisciplinary research and to deploy and articulate nanotechnology for the benefit of society. INL aims to become the world-wide hub for nanotechnology addressing society’s grand challenges in Aging & Wellbeing and Mobility & Urban Living and developing a Safe & Secure Society.

SR&TD project specifications:


(a) Name of the project: Microfluidic Layer-by-layer Assembly of Cationic Liposome - Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles for Gene Delivery (MicrofluidicGeneTherapy).

(b) Reference number: Project reference no. 032520.

(c) Description:


The overall goal of this project is to develop a new revolutionary way of making cationic liposome – DNA nanoparticles (CL-DNA NPs, also known as lipoplexes) that are highly efficient for gene therapy applications. For this, we will use microfluidic devices as a means of directing the self-assembly between liposomes and DNA, controlling the aggregation, and making hierarchical multilayered particles. The relevance of this is that such scheme will allow us to optimize the composition of each layer to address the biological barriers that are limiting the use of such particles in therapeutic applications. New lipid molecules with special functions will also be synthesized to be incorporated in these layers, with the goal of providing a set of combinatorial synergistic properties that boost even further the potential of the lipoplexes.

The successful candidate is expected to perform the organic synthesis of new stimuli-responsive functional lipids under the supervision of Dra. Laura Salonen, and perform the microfluidic preparation of the particles under the guidance of Dr. Bruno Silva. The particles will be structurally characterized with advanced methods such as small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), cryo-Transmission Electron Microscopy and Fluorescence Cross-Correlation Spectroscopy (FCCS) under the guidance of Dr. Bruno Silva and Dr. Pieter De Beule. In the final stage of the project, the interactions of the new particles with cells in vitroand the transfection efficiency will also be assessed.

Because thisis an interdisciplinary project lying at the interface between chemistry, biology, physics and engineering, and combining elements of organic chemistry synthesis, lipid self-assembly, and in-vitrocell testing of the formulations, theresearcher will develop an excellent interdisciplinary skill set that will allow her/him to grow into an independent and versatile scientist.



(d) Scientific Area: Soft Matter and Gene Delivery


Description of the functions and key primary responsibilities: The successful candidate will work on the organic chemistry synthesis of new lipid molecules with special functions, and contribute to the directed self-assembly process of lipid-DNA NPs using microfluidic devices. She/he will be assigned the following working plan:

  • Organic chemistry synthesis, purification, and characterization of acid-labile PEG-lipids bearing a cell-targeting ligand;
  • Microfluidic self-assembly and physical-chemical characterization of lipid-DNA nanoparticles of controlled size, bearing the new synthesized lipids;
  • Design functionalized lipid-DNA nanoparticles of potential high therapeutic efficiency, and in-vitro characterization of the interactions with model cell lines and transfection efficiency.


Supervision: The work plan will be developed at the INL under the scientific guidance of Dr. Bruno Silva (PI), Dra. Laura Salonen and Dr. Pieter De Beule. The successful candidate will be integrated in the Nanomedicine Research Group.


Eligibility conditions, required qualifications and expertise: Candidates must comply with the following requirements:

(a) Hold a MSc Degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Materials Science, Bioengineering, or a related field. 

(b) Be a Portuguese citizen, a European Union citizen or a non-European Union Citizen residing permanently in Portugal;

(c) A suitable candidate has experience in organic synthesis, purification, and characterization of organic molecules. Experience in peptide chemistry will be positively evaluated. Knowledge and hands-on experience in lipid self-assembly (e.g. into nanostructures such as liposomes) and knowledge of soft matter and colloid and interface science is an advantage.

(d) Fluency in English is required.


Supporting Documents

Candidates must enclose the following supporting documents in pdf format, failing which the application will not be considered for evaluation:

(a) Cover letter;

(b) Curriculum Vitae;

(c) Official transcripts of all relevant academic degrees;

(e) For non-EU Citizens residing permanently in Portugal, documental evidence attesting the legal right to reside in Portugal.


Selection Criteria

Candidates will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Curriculum vitae: 50%
  • Interview(s): 50%


Selection Committee

The selection of candidates will be carried out by a Selection Committee consisting of the following persons:

1)    Dr. Bruno Silva – Scientific Supervisor

2)   Dr.Lorenzo Pastrana – Head of Department

3)   Dr. Manuel Bañobre – Research Group Leader

4)   Renata Silva - Human Resources



Evaluation process

The evaluation process will follow a three-stage process:


  1. Candidate eligibility check:

Only full applications will be considered for evaluation. The applicant will be responsible for the data submission and validation. The application language is English.

Candidates who do not meet the eligibility requirements will not be included in the CV evaluation.


  1. Curriculum Vitae evaluation:

The top four ranked candidates will be shortlisted for interview, provided however that they pass the thresholds for this stage. The threshold for the curriculum vitae evaluation is 40 points. Candidates who do not pass the thresholds will be excluded from the evaluation process.


  1. Interview(s) and final assessment:

Interviews will be conducted through telephone, web conference or face-to-face meetings, as may be deemed appropriate.

A formal report will be issued by the selection committee recommending the selected candidate ranking candidates in order of preference.


Approval and formal offer.

If your application results successful, you will be offered a contract of association.


How to apply

The application is made online. Please click on the 'Apply for this job' button.

For the application to be valid, the candidate must complete all required sections of the online application form as well as submit all required documents.


What we offer

The successful Candidate will have the status of associated member of the personnel and will be awarded a contract of association with the INL.

Taking into account that the SR&TD project is co-funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (‘FCT’), the successful candidate shall also have the status of ´Bolseiro de Investigação`(‘B.I.’) under the applicable regulations of the FCT.


Duration of the contract

The total duration of the contract of association shall be 12 months and may be renewed based on the performance of the individual. In any case the contract cannot exceed the duration of the project.The expected starting date is July 16th2018.


Financial Benefits

An associated member of the personnel selected and hosted in the framework SR&TD projects funded by the FCT shall be entitled to a monthly subsistence allowance in the amount of €980,00.

The INL will provide insurance cover on behalf of the associated member of the personnel against professional accidents to the extent and for the period of association with the Organisation.

Social Insurance cover of associated members of the personnel will be the responsibility of the associated member of the personnel. However the foregoing, in the event the associated member of the personnel joins the Portuguese Voluntary Social Insurance system under the terms laid down in the Portuguese Statute for Research Grant Holders, the Organisation will take on the costs provided for in said Statute.


Applicable legal and regulatory framework, taking into consideration the international status of the Organisation

The contract of association with the associated member of the personnel will be subject to the INL Staff Rules and regulations, as well as other relevant procedures.

The contract of Association shall also be supplemented by the terms and conditions of the Grant Agreement between the Organisation and the FCT governing the implementation of the SR&TD project as well as other applicable laws regulations, namely Law No. 40/2004, of 18th August (Scientific Research Fellow Statute) [according to the changes introduced by the Decree-law No. 202/2012, of August 27th, Law No. 12/2013, of January 29th, and the Decree-law No. 89/2013, of July 9th], and the Regulation for Research Fellowships of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.


Notification of results

A ranking list, after final evaluation, will be published at the INL website being the chosen candidate notified via email. If the first candidate refuses the offer, the Human Resources will send an offer to the second candidate on the ranking, and so on until the vacancy is filled.

We highly value the interest shown from applicants wishing to become a part of the INL experience. It is important for us to maintain good communications with candidates. No matter the outcome of the application, we always send the applicant an answer. 


Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Principle

INL is an equal opportunity organisation, committed to providing equal career opportunities and firmly adheres to a principle of non-discrimination in respect of gender, age, nationality, racial group, or any other possible discriminatory issues.



Applicants can receive support regarding applications to this positions via e-mail:


The advertisement deadline may be extended at any time without previous notice taking into account the suitability and effectiveness of the recruitment process.


This position is funded under the project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-032520, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and National Funds through Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).


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