MSCA ITN – A Unique Opportunity for Prospective PhD Students

29. June 2020

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Press Release

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.

Project Partners:

1 University of Trento

2 Medical University of Vienna

3 University of Lausanne

4 International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology

5 Umea University

6 Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum

7 National Research Council Italy

8  Centre for Genomic Regulation

9 CEITEC Masaryk University

10 Immagina Biotechnology

11 EPICS Therapeutics Belgium

Author: Ester Jarour



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