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Nanomedicine Doctoral Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NanoMedPhD (Nanomedicine Doctoral Programme)

Reporting period: 2016-09-15 to 2018-09-14

Biomedical research is one of the most important factors of economic development in modern societies, and a strategic element of major importance for the economic growth of the European Union. Most specifically, nanomedicine is a field that is expected to produce great advances in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases based on the use of nanomaterials that have fundamentally different properties from classical materials, and this discipline is also expected to play a major role in facilitating personalized medicine, one of the most important healthcare objectives of the 21st century. On the other hand, it is known that the talent people working in research is the headstone of any Science and Technology System.

In this context, the Nanomedicine Doctoral Programme (NanoMedPhD) has been designed as a new strategic programme to provide trans-national mobility for 8 Early-Stage researchers and offer them academic and research training that lead to the award of a doctoral degree in the emerging field of nanomedicine in three scientific areas: Nanodiagnostics, Therapeutic Nanosystems and Regenerative Nanomedicine.

The research activity (thesis projects) are being developed in the Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND), which is the first specialized centre in Spain (Malaga) focused exclusively towards healthcare-applied nanotechnology research with the aim of creating a world-class centre of excellence. BIONAND´s research lines are focused in the most important clinical challenges considered for nanomedicine in Horizon 2020, such as inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular and cancer. In addition to this research training, the institution responsible for the academic formation is the University of Malaga through its Doctoral Programmes.

In summary, the main objectives of NanoMedPhD are:

- To increase the quality of research training at doctoral level in the emerging field of nanomedicine, focusing in research areas that lead to solve citizens’ health problems through new systems for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases.
- To develop and broaden research competences of Early-Stage researchers, through international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research training.
- To promote attractive research careers.
On 1st October 2016, NanoMedPhD launched an open Call for a total number of 8 three-year incoming fellowships in the emerging field of Nanomedicine (3 fellowships for Nanodiagnostics Area, 2 fellowships for Therapeutic Nanosystem Area and 3 fellowships for Regenerative Nanomedicine), towards attracting top-class Early-Stage Researchers worldwide, and offer them research and academic training in order to obtain a doctoral degree on a topic of their choice within the scientific areas of the programme.

The Call closed on 30th December 2016, and after a six-months open, transparent, merit-based, impartial and equitable selection procedure, eight Early-Stage Researchers from eight different countries were finally selected and gradually recruited from September to November 2017.

NanoMedPhD fellows have been integrated in the selected research hosting groups in the Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND), and have designed a thesis research project in liaison with their Scientific Supervisors, as well as an individual Personal Career Development Plan. At the same time, fellows have been enrolled in different PhD programmes at the University of Malaga, academic partner of NanoMedPhD, in order to be assigned an academic tutor and receive the necessary academic training and supervision to be awarded a PhD.

To the end of the first reporting period, the eight NanoMedPhD fellows have been recruited for a period of approximately 10-12 months. It has been their research performance within the execution of their thesis projects, and in general terms the project runs in a good direction to be successfully implemented.
"Nanomedicine is a field that is expected to produce great advances in scientific knowledge and in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases based on using nanomaterials that have properties that are fundamentally different from classical materials. That is the reason why its importance has been reflected in the ""Andalusian Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization (RIS3) 2020"" and in the “Research and Innovation in Healthcare Strategy for 2014-2020”, where Nanomedicine is identified as a priority to transform the region, because of its potential to find new solutions in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and also because of the opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment that this field offer. NanoMedPhD contributes to this wider development strategy of the Andalusian Regional Ministry, by training scientific excellence researchers aiming the objective of reinforcing the quality of research in the emerging field of nanomedicine. In this sense, NanoMedPhD fellows will contribute to generate scientific advances through the execution of thesis research projects in the following research fields: 1) Developmental bases of cardiovascular disease: searching for new therapeutic tools, 2) Pluripotent stem cells: cell reprogramming analysis and applications, 3) Mesenchymal stem cells, biomaterials and bioactive molecules for the design and development of tissue engineering innovative solutions, 4) Chemical synthesis, purification and spectroscopic characterization of dendrimeric structures and fluorescent markers for biomedical applications, 5) Study of specific molecular recognition and modulation of the immunological response to drugs and allergens using synthetic nanostructures, 6) Metabolic Biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of neurological diseases, 7) Multifunctional Magnetic Nanomaterials for tumor targeting and molecular imaging, and 8) Integrated Photonic Biosensor Technologies.

Moreover, NanoMedPhD follows the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment, which has included a wide dissemination of the Call; an open, transparent, merit-based, impartial and equitable selection procedure; a complete training programme based on interdisciplinarity, international and intersectoral training; and the offer of attractive employment conditions. These aspects have allowed the beneficiary to introduce a trans-national dimension of the offer as well as to recruit eight of the most promising early-stage researchers from all over the world, contributing to increase the numerical and structural impact of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions as well as to spread its best practices. In addition, since the thesis research project are developed in the Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND), the international dimension of NanoMedPhD project has also contributed to reinforce its visibility at national and international level.