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Nanomedicine Doctoral Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NanoMedPhD (Nanomedicine Doctoral Programme)

Reporting period: 2018-09-15 to 2021-09-14

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, 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 Centre 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 the Nanodiagnostics Area, 2 fellowships for the Therapeutic Nanosystem Area and 3 fellowships for Regenerative Nanomedicine), to attract top-class Early-Stage Researchers worldwide, and offer them research and academic training in order for them 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-month-long, transparent, merit-based, impartial and equitable selection procedure, eight Early-Stage Researchers from eight different countries were finally selected and gradually recruited to BIONAND from September to November 2017.
NanoMedPhD fellows were integrated into the selected research hosting groups in BIONAND and designed their Thesis Research Projects in liaison with their Scientific Supervisors. Fellows were enrolled in different PhD programmes at the University of Málaga, the academic partner of NanoMedPhD, and underwent the UMA PhD evaluations every year, always getting a positive evaluation. In addition, NanoMedPhD included career guidance and the development of a Personal Career Development Plan, in order to guarantee the achievement not only of scientific objectives but also of professional skills. The fellows had support and guidance throughout the NanoMedPhD project to guarantee the correct development of their Thesis Research Projects.
By the end of the project, fellows had been engaged within the NanoMedPhD programme for a period of 36 months and eight new researchers of excellence in the field of nanomedicine had been trained.
Seven of the eight fellows have been able to develop their Thesis Research Projects. All the researchers have performed a broad range of activities and obtained good research results such as: 9 publications in JCR-indexed journals, a patent, attendance to 34 congresses, 33 seminars,11 training activities, and 15 collaborations with other research groups have been established.
NanoMedPhD trained 8 pre-doctoral researchers, who became experts in their fields of research, with all of these being related to nanomedicine. The recruitment of the fellows in the hosting research groups contributed to generating scientific advances in their research lines: 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 tumour targeting and molecular imaging, and; 8) Integrated Photonic Biosensor Technologies.
NanoMedPhD increased the critical mass of researchers specialized in nanomedicine in the first national centre in Spain devoted to research in nanotechnology applied to health. The average number of pre-doctoral researchers at BIONAND has been approximately the same in recent years, so NanoMedPhD has had a great impact on the critical mass of early-stage researchers in nanomedicine, the first MSC early-stage research in BIONAND. The programme also contributed to increasing the numerical and structural impact of MSCA by recruiting 8 early-stage researchers, specialized in nanomedicine, at the same time.
The fellows have been trained in a multi-disciplinary, intersectoral environment in which they have had a solid scientific career, creating attractive professional profiles for their future employability. In addition, one of the main objectives of the doctoral programmes is internationalization, due to which, thanks to the programme, some of the fellows have been able to spend time abroad and even obtain international recognition of their title. From the scientific-technical point of view, BIONAND has special, latest-generation equipment and highly-qualified personnel, due to which the fellows have been able to develop specific technical skills in their field. Moreover, they have also been trained in other types of skills, such as: the design, drawing-up and management of their projects; ethical aspects; technology transfer, and; intellectual property… In addition, NanoMedPhD includes career guidance and the development of a Personal Career Development Plan, in order to guarantee the achievement not only of scientific objectives but also of professional skills.
At the end of the programme, it can be concluded that eight new researchers of excellence in the field of nanomedicine have been trained, with a great projection both nationally and internationally.
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