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PhD position - Retina research in the RETORNA MSCA consortium

   Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology

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  Dr Natalia Martinez Gil, Ms AC Craciun, Prof Jorge Barcia  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In the framework of the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions - Doctoral Networks (MSCA-DN) the Consortium of the project “Targeting RNA as an approach for treating retinal disease” (RETORNA) has opened a call for candidates interested in joining a PhD programme on the topic "Micro RNA expression, identification, and functional characterization under oxidative stress challenge in diabetic retinopathy" with the duration of 36 months starting from the 1st of September 2023.

RETORNA summary description:

RETORNA aims to treat retinal diseases (RD) by using RNA therapy. Among the research objectives, we will study different types of RNA that are expressed in retinal cells. By observing bioinformatic models, cell and tissue cultures, animal models, and human patients, we will be able to create RNA profiles for different RD. This screening will identify several targets that will be used as therapeutic approaches. Then, selected RNAs will be used to treat different RD, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

The proposed doctoral network (DN) will provide an innovative, international, multi/interdisciplinary platform to train young scientists in the field of vision science. 

RETORNA proposes breakthrough research, distributed in 10 individual projects, performed by 10 Doctoral candidates (one of them being the DC1), in the following countries: IrelandSpainNetherlandsTürkiyeGermany and Italy. 

DC1 will be hired full time for 36 months by Universidad Católica de Valencia (UCV) in Valencia, Spain and will work mainly in Valencia, with various secondments in RETORNA consortium. Secondments are foreseen during the 36 months project.

Please read carefully ALL the details of the individual project DC1 and apply ONLY if really interested!

For more information about RETORNA:

If by reading the description of the project you think it aligns with your future career goals, please continue and read the requirements and the eligibility criteria.



Candidates researchers must:

  • have a MSc level training in Biology, Pharmacy or any relataed fields that matches the project
  • possess scientific skills for the project and research experience 
  • necessary skills 
  1. experience in handling lab animals (or at least willing to learn) 
  2. cell cultures
  • desirable skills: 
  1. biology lab tecniques
  2. scientific background
  • possess a good working level of English: candidates must demonstrate during the interview a good ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English, sufficiently high to fully benefit from the experience
  • be highly motivated to participate in the 3 year programme and commit to obtain the PhD degree
  • be available and agree with travelling in the RETORNA consortium for secondments
  • possess a high level of independency


RETORNA DC will be employed according to the rules for Doctoral Candidates in MSCA DNs and the general regulations of the hosting institution.

The monthly financial package will include the following researcher allowances:

1) Living allowance 

2) Mobility allowance 

3) Family allowance if applicable.

The full-time gross annual salary at UCV amounts to € 34.363,56 Euro (family allowance will be calculated only if applicable).

The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months starting from the 1st of September 2023.

Other benefits:

The selected candidate, together with other 9 DCs that will be selected, will benefit from a large variety of activities foreseen for them with costs covered by the Project. DCs at RETORNA will be provided with a unique multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral training. First and foremost, DCs will be trained as scientists, each of them in their host institution, at their research secondments, and through local and network wide events. Next, thanks to the partnership between academic and non-academic entities, DCs will receive multi-sectoral inputs from both worlds. This will happen via lectures and workshops in our varied training program.

 Eligibility criteria

Please read carefully ALL the eligibility criteria and apply only if you possess them:

  • candidates can be of any nationality
  • possess a Master degree or an equivalent that allows the access to the doctoral program in the Universidad Católica de Valencia
  • not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
  • be, at the date of recruitment, a doctoral candidate (i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree). Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.
  • must comply with the following mobility rule: researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e., move from one country to another) and participate in all the activities foreseen by the project when taking up the appointment (trainings, summer courses, annual meetings, lectures, participation in conferences, public activities).

Selection process

The RETORNA selection procedure is open, transparent, merit-based and in line with the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers and the European Charter for Researchers.

The criteria for recruitment of DCs will respect the principles of non-discrimination contained in The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

It is the policy of the RETORNA project to promote and give equal opportunities regardless of gender and stimulate gender balance.

Documents required

Interested candidates should submit ALL the requested documents only via email to [Email Address Removed], indicating in the e-mail title "RETORNA - DC1 application":

  • a detailed CV, including – if applicable – relevant publications
  • a motivation letter specific for DC1 project, indicating why you wish to conduct this research project
  • transcripts of bachelor and master and the degrees
  • two references names
  • English certificate (if the candidate possess one)

All documents must be named as "type of document_NameSurname" (i.e. Motivation letter_Andreea Craciun", "Transcript of records Andreea Craciun")

We encourage candidates to send any other certificates, representative publications, academic references or links demonstrating the experience and interest in the project. 

Selection process calendar:

  • Deadline for applications: 14th of June 2023
  • Eligibility and Evaluation: 15th of June 2023 
  • Online Interviews: 19th - 23rd of June 2023
  • Notification to candidates: end of June 2023
  • Hiring process: July - August 2023
  • Start date of the PhD: 1st of September 2023

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