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About the employer

The Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC) is a research center dedicated to the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and the study of cognitive functions affected in healthy and pathological aging. It was created in 2012 by the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, with the support of the Pompeu Fabra University.

The mission of the BBRC is to provide innovative solutions to decipher and prevent biological changes and cognitive dysfunction associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Due to the aging of the world population, these diseases constitute a global challenge, since for example, dementia can reach epidemic levels in 2050, with a forecast of more than 150 million people affected, if is not found a way to prevent its appearance and development.

The BBRC received the HR Excellence in Research award (HRS4R) granted by the European Commission; a recognition that shows its adherence to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Research Staff. The center offers a stimulating and favorable working environment in accordance with the Charter and Code, which describe the rights and responsibilities of researchers and their employers, and contributes to the creation of a transparent, attractive and open ecosystem at international level.

Pasqual Maragall Foundation, Pompeu Fabra University and “la Caixa” Foundation are permanent members of the BBRC Board. The center is affiliated and located in the Ciutadella Campus of the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, in a building inaugurated in 2016. The BBRC headquarters has excellent technical facilities, including a 3TMR scanner dedicated to research, and spaces for conducting Clinical Trials and EEG. State-of-the-art scientific facilities, effective management and continuous high-standard peer-review evaluation are the BBRC core proceedings to ensure achieving world-class research results.

BBRC is also part of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), a large research facility that hosts other seven different research institutions related to biomedical research, including the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the Pompeu Fabra University (CEXS-UPF), the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE CSIC-UPF), the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Barcelona site of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), among others, in a multidisciplinary, collaborative and stimulating international environment in close contact with a clinical setting, thus conducive to translational research.

More information about BBRC:

About the research group

In the Fluid Biomarkers and Translational Neurology research group, we conduct translational research to develop biomarkers, discover new therapeutic targets and provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

We are a multidisciplinary and diverse team of both clinicians and basic researchers and we take a “bedside to bench and back again” approach. We identify clinical problems and patients’ needs at the bedside, we conduct basic science research at the bench to answer clinically relevant questions, and we bring the new generated knowledge back to the patient’s bedside and the community.

We work with cohorts that cover the whole Alzheimer’s continuum, from preclinical stages to dementia. Our group has recently published articles in high-impact journals (Nature Medicine, JAMA Neurology, Neurology) describing the plasma and CSF biomarkers changes in preclinical Alzheimer’s.

Our group has recently been awarded with the prestigious a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project. The project is entitled “Identification of age-related Human Blood factors as a therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease (HeBe)” (PI: Marc Suárez-Calvet). HeBe is an ambitious project aimed at discovering blood factors that have the capacity to rejuvenate the brain and could hence be used as therapeutic targets in age-related diseases like AD ( Following ERC philosophy, this is a high-risk/high-gain project.

About the PhD project

At BBRC, we look for a highly motivated PhD Student to join our team and work in the ERC Starting grant-funded HeBe project. The PhD Student will work in the new BBRC lab, which is located in the BBRC building, under the supervision of Dr. Marc Suárez-Calvet. The student will also be closely supervised by Dr. Federica Anastasi (Postdoctoral Researcher) and Dr. Paula Ortiz (Laboratory Manager).

The PhD student will perform and develop immunoassays for the measurement of relevant biomarkers in CSF and blood in the ALFA and other cohorts at BBRC. In a first stage, the PhD student will use already developed assays (in-house and commercial) with a special focus in neuroinflammation (e.g. sTREM2, YKL40, GFAP). In a second stage, the PhD student, in the context of the HeBe project, will develop novel immunoassays to determine those blood factors that have previously identified to have a rejuvenating or ageing effect on the brain.

Under the supervision of Dr. Federica Anastasi, the PhD student will also work in mass spectrometry proteomics analyses of blood samples of the HeBe project at the Proteomics Unit at CRG (led by Eduard Sabidó; and the Clinical Metabolomics Platform at IMIM-Hospital del Mar (led by Óscar Pozo). The PhD student will participate in the analyses of all the proteomic and metabolomic data with the support of a bioinformatician.

Moreover, the PhD student will have the possibility to be involved in other on-going projects of our team, focused on the measurements of fluid biomarkers in the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

The selected candidate will also be given the opportunity to investigate research questions that drive their curiosity. They will be also expected to supervise junior team members and closely collaborate with projects of other team members. Funding to attend international scientific meetings will be provided. The student will be enrolled into a university PhD program and will be given the opportunity to take courses in topics related to the research activity.

Main Responsibilities

  • Perform basic biochemistry techniques (e.g. ELISA, Western blot, immunoprecipitation) and biomarker analyses with ultrasensitive assays (Simoa, MSD platforms) in human samples (CSF, blood).
  • Develop, validate an implement novel immunoassays for proteins that are relevant for Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration.
  • Participate in the proteomic and metabolomic studies of the HeBe project.
  • Assist with the instructing and training of students, fellows, technicians and laboratory assistants as required.
  • Prepare and publish high quality scholarly papers, contributing to the academic environment of the laboratory and institute. Participate in applications for competitive research funding support.
  • Participate in regular internal meetings and internal as well as external collaborations.

Required qualifications, competences and technical skills

Must have:

  • A MSc degree (or expected to be obtained soon) in biological and/or chemical sciences (e.g. biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, biomedicine, medical chemistry, neuroscience, analytical chemistry or similar).
  • Previous experience in a biochemistry lab.
  • Excellent communication and writing skills in English.
  • Able to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • A high level of motivation, drive, initiative and enthusiasm.

Highly desirable:

  • Experience in research on Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Previous experience in ELISAs and immunoassays platforms (Simoa, MSD).
  • Previous experience a in proteomics, mass spectrometry and similar techniques.
  • Strong statistics and data analyses skills.
  • Experience in supervising undergraduate students, leadership roles.

We Offer

  • Starting date: January 2023 (starting date can be negotiated +/- a few months).
  • Full-time position, 38 hours weekly.
  • The position is scheduled for 3 years.
  • Salary will depend on experience and will be in accordance to BBRC’s salary scales.
  • The Foundation offers an extended vacation period and the possibility of benefit from flexible working hours.
  • A brand-new state-of-the-art lab located at BBRC.

We offer and promote a diverse and inclusive environment and welcomes applicants regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. We offer as well, the unique research opportunity in a highly innovative project in a multidisciplinary institution.

At BBRC we also care about developing your professional abilities and career. We evaluate the potential of our team in order to develop the skills necessary to achieve a high level of professional performance.

Selection Process

  • Pre-selection: The pre-selection process will be based on qualifications, expertise and motivation reflected on the candidate cover letter and CV. It will be merit-based.
  • Interview: Preselected candidates will be interviewed by Dr Suárez-Calvet and other team members as well as staff from the Human Resources Department.
  • Offer Letter: Once the successful candidate is identified the Human Resources department will send a Job Offer, specifying the start day, salary, working conditions, among other important details.

Application process

To apply, please submit a single PDF file containing the following:

1) Cover letter describing research interests and relevant background;

2) CV with two reference letters

3) All files or inquiries should be submitted electronically to:

Subject: PhD HeBe project


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