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EU  Ocuther

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 722717.

ESR8: Non-invasive pharmacological treatment of retinal degeneration in the Bardet-Biedl Syndrome and related ciliopathies. University of Strasbourg. France.

The University of Strasbourg (UNISTRA) is one of the largest universities in France, with nearly 46000 students (including 19,5% of international students), over 2750 researchers and 4 Nobel prizes. Strasbourg is a cluster of activity in many scientific fields such as biology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical drugs, chemistry, material physics or space sciences. The scale of research activity at Strasbourg is substantial, involving 78 research units and major research institutes (IGBMC, IBMC, ICS, ISIS) favoring teaching quality and student access to many fields.

The Medical Genetics laboratory, a mixed research unit of the Institut National pour la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) and the UNISTRA, is located in the Strasbourg Medical School campus and is closely linked to the clinical reference center for rare eye diseases of the Strasbourg University Hospital. The laboratory has been focusing on gene identification, pathogenesis dissection and therapy developments for a group of rare inherited syndromic retinal degeneration named the ciliopathies (that includes the Bardet-Bield syndrome). Pharmacological approaches to prevent and/or cure retinal degeneration for ciliary related retinal degeneration (30% of all causes of inherited retinal degeneration) are in various phases of development.

Early Stage Researcher (PhD Candidate) for the Ocuther European Training Network

within the Marie Sklodowska Curie Programme (1,0 fte)

Application deadline has been extended: March 27, 2017


The laboratory of medical genetics UMRS_1112 is focusing on the genetic and pathogenesis elucidation of rare syndromic eye diseases that include retinal degeneration (retinitis pigmentosa). One main topic is the study if ciliopathies that impact the photoreceptor cells by altering the transport of vision proteins and inducing reticulum endoplasmic stress and unfolded protein response. We are working on various compounds that slow down this process to preserve the photoreceptor cells. The delivery to this specific cells is a challenge that is addressed with nanoparticule use. The laboratory has in house well characterized ciliopathy mouse models and retinal exploration facilities (in house noticeably for the ERG). The major strength is the multidisciplinary environment linking clinical work ( i.e clinical research in process) with fundamental and translational efforts to bring the best therapy to patients as soon as possible.

The OCUTHER  project will provide training across a wide range of disciplines including biology, pharmaceutics, chemistry and material sciences, ensuring interdisciplinary and intersectoral experience. You will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Life Sciences of the University of Strasbourg  and will defend your PhD at the end of the project.

Early Stage Researcher 8: developing non invasive therapy for retinal ciliopathies

The project that will be developed is on non invasive therapy for ciliopathy related retinal degeneration and will need to fulfil several requirements including:  A) to generate, test and optimize an innovative magnetic nanoparticle-mediated delivery technology that will allow to achieve needle-free, anesthesia-free delivery of a patented drug combination “GV-Ret” (valproic acid and guanabenz) to the retina by topical administration in the ad hoc mouse model. The strategy is based on the use of nanoparticles in collaboration with OZ, for design, generation, loading and optimization of these magnetic nanoparticles (guided with magnets to release drugs in the retina). Biodistribution studies will be performed (in collaboration with the University of Finland) and the the formulations will aim for stability of the loaded drugs and to provide sustained release and/or intracellular delivery for an aimed duration of time. B) once the proof of concept demonstrated for the “GV-ReT” treatment, the strategy will expand the retinal delivery of other promising compounds currently explored in the laboratory C) to develop, test and optimize this highly innovative therapeutic tool for other mouse models with ciliopathy-related retinopathies that are available in the lab D) the most promising formulations will be tested in terms of manufacturing (particularly sterilization methods, freeze drying and maintenance of properties after reconstitution).

Required background: Msc degree in an appropriate field of science (e.g. neurobiology, molecular biology, nanomedecine, ophthalmology, chemistry, pharmacy, molecular life sciences).

Work environment

You will perform your PhD research in a multidisciplinary Initial Training Network (ITN) project called OCUTHER.

What we expect from you

At the time of recruitment you must be in the first four years of your research career and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree; You have excellent communication skills and are able to work efficiently in a team. Specific technical requirements are mentioned separately for the individual ESR descriptions. Recruitment is open to all nationalities, but because of mobility rules defined by the EU, at the time of recruitment, candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the three years immediately prior to the starting date (compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account).

What we have to offer

  • employment: 1,0 fte;
  • the gross salary amounts to € 2,860 per month;
  • 36 days of leave per year ;
  • duration of the contract: 3 years;

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Would you like to know more?

  • Further information on: The OCUTHER project
  • Further information on:
  • For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
    • Pr Hélène Dollfus
    • E-mail:

Are you interested?

You should send your application to Pr Hélène Dollfus. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachments:

  • Letter of motivation
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Brief statement on how you will contribute to this project

For more information on your application: +316 20291631

No commercial propositions please.