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

Ref.09.18.46 – Research Fellow – Nanocarriers for Gene Delivery


Type of contract: Limited duration

Research Centre: International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory – INL

Number of vacancies: 1

Duty Station: Braga, Portugal

Career Stage: Up to 3 years after PhD

Open date for applications: 18th October 2018

Closing Date for applications: 9th November 2018


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.


This call is related to the Scientific Research and Technological Development Projects identified hereunder, which are cofunded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and National Funds through the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).


Project specifications:

INL participates in the following Scientific Research:Soft Matter/Gene Delivery/Biophysics/Physical Chemistry.


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

(b) Reference number:POCI-01-0145-FEDER-032520;

(c) Scientific Area: Soft Matter/Gene Delivery/Biophysics/Physical Chemistry;

(d) 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. This is an interdisciplinary project lying at the interface between chemistry, biology, physics and engineering, where the researcher will develop an excellent interdisciplinary skill set that will allow her/him to grow into an independent and versatile scientist.


 Description of the functions and key primary responsibilities: The successful candidate will work on the microfluidic-assisted preparation of cationic liposome – DNA complexes (lipoplexes), with the goal of producing particles with enhanced transfection efficiency and therapeutic potential. She/he will be assigned the following working plan:

  • To design and fabricate PDMS-based microfluidic devices for the assembly of the lipoplexes;
  • To produce cationic liposome – DNA complexes within the microfluidic devices, achieving controlled layer-by-layer (LbL) formation of the particles;
  • Physico-chemical and structural characterization of the particles with advanced methods such as Fluorescence Cross-Correlation Spectroscopy (FCCS), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and cryo-Transmission Electron Microscopy. FCCS will be especially important to monitor the LbL process;
  • In a second phase, the applicant will design strategies and combinations of lipid-bilayers incorporating special lipid molecules synthesized within the group to obtain particles with improved transfection efficiency and anti-tumour activity;
  • Perform reporter gene assays to evaluate transfection efficiency; assess the interactions of the new particles with cancer cell lines in vitro.


Specific Eligibility Conditions

Candidates must meet the conditions below, as they are required by the nature of the duties candidates will be required to perform:


  • Hold a PhD Degree in Physical Chemistry, Soft Condensed Matter Physics, Biophysics, or a related field;
  • The project involves the self-assembly of cationic liposome-DNA complexes (e.g. lipoplexes) in a microfluidic device. For this, a strong knowledge of soft matter, surfactant and lipid self-assembly, mixed ionic amphiphile-polyelectrolyte systems and their interactions, and handling of microfluidic devices is required. The candidate will be judged for the knowledge and hands-on experience on these topics, or capacity based on previous research experience;
  • Experience in Fluorescence Cross-Correlation Spectroscopy (FCCS), Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) or cryo-TEM will be evaluated positively.


Applications that not meet these conditions will not be considered.


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


 Selection Committee

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

1)     Dr. Bruno Silva

2)     Dr. Pieter De Beule

3)     Dr. Laura Salonen

4)     Renata Silva


Duration of the contract

The total duration of the employment contract shall be 30 months and may be renewed based on the performance of the individual. In any case the contract cannot exceed the duration of the project. Expected starting date is November 16th.


General Eligibility conditions, required qualifications and expertise:

Candidates must comply with the following requirements:

  1. Hold a PhD Degree within the field of the selected vacancy;
  2. Be a Portuguese citizen, a European Union citizen or a non-European Union Citizen with a scientific and professional curriculum that demonstrates an appropriate profile for the activity to be performed;
  3. 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:

(a) Cover letter in English;

(b) Curriculum Vitae in English;

(c) Official transcripts of all relevant academic degrees;

(d) At least one recommendation letter.


Evaluation process:

The evaluation process will follow a three-stage process:

1. Candidate eligibility check

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

Applications that do not meet the eligibility conditions will not be considered.

2. Assessment of the Research Experience of the Candidate

The selection of candidates shall be made by means of an assessment of the research experience within the framework of the Project, which shall focus on the relevance, quality and up-to-date of the following items:

  • Scientific and Technological Production (‘STP’);
  • Applied and Practice-based Research Activities (‘RA’);
  • Activities  related to the Dissemination of Knowledge (‘DK’);
  • Activities related to the Management of Science, Technology and Innovation programmes (‘MSTI’)


The research experience will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • STP (65%): Academic Qualifications (AQ) – 10%; Research Quality (RQ) – 40%; Impact and Efectiveness (IE) – 15%;
  • RA (15%): Research Coordination (RC) – 5%; Development, operation and maintenance of core facilities “instrumentation and/or equipment”  (DOM) – 2%; organisation of conferences, symposia and scientific cooperation activities (OCSS) - 2 %; teaching activities “advanced courses or university” (TA) – 3%; research stays and internships (RSI) – 3%;
  • DK (5%): Transfer to other areas of society (TS) – 3%; promotion of the public understanding of science (PPUS) – 2%;
  • MSTI (5%): Development of Laboratory facilities, management of research groups (DFMG) – 3%; evaluation of STI activities (EA) – 2%.

This criteria will have a total valuation of 90%. The minimum threshold for this stage is 75%.

The top four ranked candidates will be shortlisted for interview, provided however that they pass the threshold mentioned above.

3. Interview(s)

Interviews will be conducted through web conference or face-to-face meetings, as may be deemed appropriate. This criterion will have a total valuation of 10%.





The Selection Committee will draw up the minutes of the R&S process in which candidates will be ranked according to their evaluation scores.


Approval and formal offer:

Successful applicants will be offered the corresponding positions.


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:

  • Social Security costs to be paid by INL;
  • Work Accidents insurance costs to be paid by INL, to provide coverage for work accidents and invalidity benefits;
  • Health insurance with excellent coverage;
  • Tax Benefit: The personnel working at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory are exempt from national income taxes so the only deduction from their part of the salary will be 11 % for social security and 12% for an internal tax;
  • A family allowance of 160€/month for staff members that are married or that are living under the status of “common-law couple” and/or have any dependent child;
  • A child allowance of 200€/month for each dependent child;
  • Free Nursery Service at INL campus (subject to availability);
  • Support for Education fees of dependent children;
  • Depending on the place of residence, INL covers 100% of travel expenses for all family members.


Financial Benefits:

INL offers an attractive financial package appropriate to an international research organization composed by a gross monthly Remuneration of 2600.00€ paid in 12 installments. Due to INL special legal status as intergovernmental organization, financial benefits are exempt for national income tax. Apart from the salary, INL may offer, depending on the personal situation, additional allowances and benefits for families and non-residents.


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


The contract will be subject to the INL’s Staff Rules, as amended from time to time, as well as to all other relevant instructions issued by the Organisation. For this purpose, a copy of the Staff Rules shall be provided. The contract may also be supplemented by the terms and conditions of the Financing Contract between the Organisation and the FCT governing the implementation of the FCT Project.

Disputes between the Organisation and the Employed Member of the Personnel shall be settled in accordance with the INL´s Staff Rules.


 Notification of results:

Each candidate notified via e-mail of the result of their individual application. 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 promotes a non-discrimination and equal access policy, wherefore no candidate can be privileged, benefited, impaired or deprived of any rights whatsoever, or be exempt of any duties based on their ancestry, age, sex, sexual preference, marital status, family and economic conditions, instruction, origin or social conditions, genetic heritage, reduced work capacity, disability, chronic illness, nationality, ethnic origin or race, origin territory, language, religion, political or ideological convictions and union membership.



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