Doing your PhD at IBEC


Doing a PhD at IBEC brings you the opportunity to start your research career in a stimulating, interdisciplinary and high quality international scientific environment.

Below you can find information about IBEC’s ”la Caixa” · Severo Ochoa International PhD Programme. Follow the links on the right to see more about what you can expect at IBEC as a PhD student; explore our groups, see what kind of training is available, and find out about other fellowships and funding options.

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IBEC International PhD Programme ”la Caixa” · Severo Ochoa fellowships


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IBEC International PhD Programme aims to train the next generation of researchers in bioengineering for future medicine, active ageing, and regenerative therapies.

Within the programme, 3 PhD fellowships are offered by the ”la Caixa” foundation for the academic year 2016-2017. Furthermore, 6 fellowships will be offered, funded by MINECO, through the ‘Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores’ 2016 call.



About the IBEC International PhD Programme ”la Caixa” · Severo Ochoa fellowshipsIIPP logos

IBEC is one of the top research institutions named as a Severo Ochoa Research Centre by Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (in charge of research and innovation policy in Spain), which recognizes excellence at the highest international level in terms of research, training, human resources, outreach and technology transfer. The Severo Ochoa award provides 4m€ over 2015-2019 to implement IBEC’s Research and Human Resources Programmes.

”la Caixa” is a non-profit entity whose activity in education is based on the principle of promoting equal access of citizens to quality qualifications and specializations at national and international levels. Over the years, thousands of students have advanced their training thanks to a ”la Caixa” Foundation fellowship, enabling them to undertake postgraduate studies in Spain and abroad.

Since 2012, ”la Caixa” has supported Severo Ochoa centres by offering fellowships to excellent candidates to perform a PhD. Within this framework, three ”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa grants are offered at IBEC for the academic year 2016-2017.

”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa grants offer a 4 year-contract with a gross salary ranging from 18.546,56€ in the first year to 22.558,67€ in the fourth year, plus €6400 (for mobility and training) for the 4-year period.

Furthermore, 6 fellowships will be offered, funded by MINECO, through the ‘Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores’ 2016 call. MINECO fellowships offer a 4 year-contract with a gross salary of 16.422€, plus 6250€ for mobility and training for the 4-year period.

Download complete information about the programme here.

Candidates: 2016 call

On April 14th 2016 the final decision was taken in a consensus meeting of the Selection Committee awarding the nine fellowships to this list.

The ones that will finally join IBEC will depend on resignations and the reserve list. This list below is updated periodically to reflect the current situation.

Updated 02/08/2016
Ranking Name
1 Maria Arista Romero
2 Rafael Mestre Castillo
3 Xiomara Gislen
4 Sabrina Wistorf
5 Marina Zimina
6 Andrés Marco Giménez
7 Ignasi Casanellas
8 Ana Candida Lopes
9 HyoJung Lee



  • Candidates should be ready to enter an official doctoral programme in September 2016 (under Spanish Law). By this time, they must have obtained a university degree and a masters degree; or must hold an official university qualification from a country of the European Higher Education Area with a minimum of 300 ECTS of official university studies, of which at least 60 are at masters level.
  • Candidates must have a strong commitment to scientific research and an excellent academic record.
  • Candidates must have good working knowledge of English.
  • ”la Caixa” fellowship candidates may not be at IBEC for more than six months before the deadline of the call.
  • MINECO fellowship candidates may not have held a PhD contract exceeding 12 months in June 2016.


PhD research topics and projects

In the online application form, you will be asked to indicate your preference of up to two research topics from the following: 1. Biomimetics, bio-inspired materials and nanorobotics; 2. Cell mechanics; 3. Electrical and optical detection at the nanoscale; 4. Fighting infectious diseases; 5. M-health devices for connected care; 6. Point-of-care diagnostics and prognostics; 7. Restoring organ and tissue function.

Each topic encompasses several PhD projects. If you are invited to IBEC for interview, you will have the chance to discuss the different PhD projects within your chosen topics with the group leaders responsible, and decide which project you prefer.

In your application, you will be able to choose whether you want to apply for a ”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa fellowship, a MINECO–Severo Ochoa fellowship, or both. (See conditions and eligibility criteria in the ‘About’ and ‘Eligibility’ sections above).

Please bear in mind that the two types of fellowships have different associated research projects, so your eventual choice of project also depends on whether you are eligible to apply for that particular fellowship.

”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa fellowships:

1. Biomimetics, bio-inspired materials and nanorobotics Hybrid Micro-Bio-Robots based on motile cells
2. Cell mechanics Shaping epithelial sheets in two and three dimensions
5. M-health devices for connected care Flexible sensors for Biomedical Technology
7. Restoring organ and tissue function Targeting intermediate and paraxial mesoderm in induced pluripotent stem cells

MINECO–Severo Ochoa fellowships:

TOPIC 1: Biomimetics, bio-inspired materials and nanorobotics
Behaviour of Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Thermo-Responsive Substrate
Design of novel antiviral nanomaterials
Development of cell-derived matrices (CDM) as bioinks for 3D-bioprinting
Development of haptotactic chemokine gradients in biomimetic 3D environment
Engineering symbiotic behaviours between bacteria and stem cells
Enzyme-powered Nano-Robots as Active Drug Delivery Systems
Fabrication of electrically conductive and mechanically robust hybrid hydrogel composites using dielectrophoresis approach to engineer functional tissues for regenerative medicine and in vitro applications
Soft, Smart, Self-powered, Polymeric Micro-robots
TOPIC 2: Cell mechanics
Biomechanical Regulation of Cancer Progression
Biophysics of the tumour-stroma interactions
Mechanobiology of durotaxis – from single cells to tissues
Quantification of cellular forces in 3D
The cell membrane as a mechanical and biochemical hub
TOPIC 3: Electrical and optical detection at the nanoscale
Electrochemical tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy of redox proteins and photosynthetic complexes
NanoBio-Tomography based on Scanning Probe Microscopies
Scanning Probe Electrophysiology – imaging ionic channel activity at the nanoscale
Visualizing molecular mechanics and function at the nanoscale
TOPIC 4: Fighting infectious diseases
Deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in bacterial virulence
Development of polymer-based nanocarriers for new antimalarial combination therapies
Engineering of nanovectors for the delivery of antimalarial drugs to Plasmodium transmission forms in the mosquito
New strategies to combat bacterial infections
TOPIC 5: M-health devices for connected care
Development of metabolomics data workflows able to fuse data from different origins
Development of methods to improve the robustness of omics data predictive models: Applications in metabolomics applied to biomarker discovery in food intake
Multimodal physiological biomarkers for non-invasive monitoring and home healthcare of COPD patients with comorbidities
Novel m-Health and advanced signal interpretation techniques for improving diagnostic and monitoring of Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients at home
TOPIC 6: Point-of-care diagnostics and prognostics
Biomarker in NCD. Monitoring neurocognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases by nanotechnology approaches.
Cell-matrix mechanobiology in bioengineered lungs
Spleen on a chip system to determine mechanical cell properties of anemia diseases for early diagnosis and prognosis
TOPIC 7: Restoring organ and tissue function
Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Fibrinogen Composite Nanofibers
Developing novel strategies for the regeneration of the human kidney
Development of light-regulated drugs for vision restoration
Ion-release materials to promote angiogenesis on in situ tissue regeneration strategies
Optogenetics and Regeneration. Epigenetic modulation of corticospinal neurons by light in axon regeneration therapies of lesioned spinal cord
Synergistic microenvironments for robust maturation of cardiomyocytes
Uneven nanopatterns to control cell adhesion and promote cell differentiation for cartilage and tendon tissues regeneration

How to apply

Which documents and information do I need to provide with my application?

From 18th January 2016, an online application form will be available. In your application, you will be able to choose whether you want to apply for a ”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa fellowship, a MINECO–Severo Ochoa fellowship, or both. (See conditions and eligibility criteria in the ‘About’ and ‘Eligibility’ sections above).

You will be required to provide the following information in your application.

  • Personal data and CV.
  • Covering letter, including motivation for applying.
  • A scan of your Certified Academic Record, showing grades obtained (degree and masters). If these are not in Catalan, Spanish or English, applicants should attach a translation in one of these languages.
  • Education experience: what, when and where you have studied.
  • Research experience.
  • Publications.
  • Presentations in conferences.
  • Awards/fellowships.
  • 2 letters of recommendation from lecturers or researchers with whom you have studied or worked and who can judge your potential as a PhD student. Only letters with official letterhead and signature will be accepted. Please be sure to inform your referees that their letters must be uploaded in the online application tool before the deadline (29th February 2016).


Selection procedure

In March, applications will be reviewed by a selection committee made up of IBEC group leaders and administration staff. In April, shortlisted candidates will receive invitations to visit IBEC for interviews with the selection committee and with the group leaders responsible of their preferred potential PhD projects. In June, offers will be made to the successful candidates.

”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa fellows should expect to take up their positions at IBEC in September/October 2016.

MINECO–Severo Ochoa fellows should expect to take up their positions at IBEC in December 2016/January 2017.

Applicants who have not been successful but have received a positive evaluation will be put on a waiting list for future positions.

In April 2015, IBEC was awarded the ‘Human Resources Excellence in Research’ seal from the European Commission, in recognition of its commitment to continuously improving its HR policies in line with The European Charter of Researchers and The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.

In line with this recognition, IBEC has set up an international, transparent, equal-opportunities merit-based recruitment procedure to select the most qualified candidates. The selection procedure is governed by the following principles:

  • Transparency throughout the whole process.
  • Equal opportunities in the selection and hiring of personnel.
  • Non-discrimination on grounds of sex, age, ethnic, national or social origin, religion, sexual orientation, language, disability, political opinions or social and economic condition.
  • Confidentiality as the cornerstone of the selection process.
  • Principle of public dissemination of the selection processes, which must also be internationally comparable.


Useful dates

  • 18th January 2016: Launch of the call
  • 29th February: Deadline for submission of applications
  • 1st-15th March: Evaluation of the candidates’ CVs
  • 16th-18th March: Communication of results. Invitation of selected candidates to come to Barcelona for an interview
  • 25th-29th April: Interviews in Barcelona with selection committee and group leaders responsible for research projects
  • First half of May: Final selection of candidates
  • 16th-18th May: Communication of results to candidates
  • 19th-24th May: Letter of acceptance to be signed by candidates
  • September-October 2016: Start of ”la Caixa”–Severo Ochoa Fellowships
  • Approx. January 2017: Start of MINECO–Severo Ochoa Grants


I still have questions!

If you have any further questions about the IBEC International PhD Programme ”la Caixa” · Severo Ochoa fellowships, or if there are particular issues you’d like to discuss regarding your application, please contact

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