This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754558


BIST PhD Fellowship Programme

Launch your scientific career in our international PhD programme focused on excellent research in a multidisciplinary environmen

Programme Description & Calls Structure

Please note that the PREBIST programme is not currently accepting applications. 

PREBIST is a doctoral fellowship programme led by the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology. Altogether 28 fellowships will be awarded and implemented in top research in the Barcelona and Tarragona area (Spain).

BIST brings closer together seven independent Catalan internationally recognized research centres. The centres participating in the PREBIST programme are:

• The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)
• Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ)
• Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2)
• Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE)
• Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

Also affiliated to BIST, but not directly participating in PREBIST, are:

• Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG)
• Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)

Please kindly note that ICFO is not hosting any topics for this call.

PREBIST applicants will find a list of PhD projects and can freely choose their project of interest. Successful candidates will be hosted by the selected research group. They will have full access to facilities, PhD Programme seminars and training programmes of the BIST centres. Networking activities shall facilitate inter-centre and inter-disciplinary exchange and collaborations. PREBIST will offer fellows the opportunity to opt for secondments from a pool of international institutions with which BIST centres have institutional agreements or collaborations.

The fellowships are granted for 4 years including:

• Anual gross salary: 26.519,19€ plus a single payment of 1504,89 relocation support (Spanish tax and social security deductions apply),
• Close mentoring and supervision through prestigious researchers,
• A personalized doctoral career development plan,
• A training programme for scientific and transferable skills.

PREBIST Fellows will accomplish a focused PhD programme, with an emphasis on intensive research-based training, offered by the hosting BIST Centre, in partnership with a major local university (degree-awarding institution). From the start, PhD students are integrated into one of the participating BIST centre research groups, under the supervision of the corresponding Group Leader, to begin their research projects, and participate in the training activities. In the following, a comprehensive list of the major doctoral programmes:

• ICFO: PhD in Photonics, in partnership with the Universitat Politènica de Catalunya (Barcelona)
• IRB Barcelona: TBD

PREBIST fellows will receive scientific training and take part in programs that aim at developing leadership skills, offering opportunities to assume responsability and tools to be active in own career progression.

PREBIST counts with an important number of active collaboration R&D with local and international companies and research institutions. Several BIST centres are also closely associated with major research hospitals in the Barcelona area. BIST has also established extensive collaboration agreements with major technology centres in Catalonia. PREBIST fellows will be encouraged to undertake visits and short-term stays and secondments with these partners whenever relevant to their field of research.

Each BIST centre offers an internationally renowned, attractive research environment, complemented by a range of training activities that will help highly qualified young scientists to develop the skills necessary for a successful career. The high interdisciplinary nature of BIST makes it an excellent setting for fellows to access an extensive offer of scientific seminars, courses and workshops.

PREBIST fellows will be able to participate in a number of existing programmes, including:

• Seminar programmes of the BIST centres
• Researcher exchange and networking programmes including international conferences and workshops organised by BIST centres.

In its effort to establish an outstanding long-term training programme, BIST and the afiliated centres are planning a variety of training initiatives, to support PhD fellows by exploring the different options for becoming successful scientist. Along this process, fellows should acquire key compentences in a highly competitive environment (effective research, ethical research responsibility, technical workshops), and awareness and responsibility for their own career progression.

BIST is aware that for training the scientific leaders of the future, involves providing them with tools and aptitudes on transferable skills which will allow them to excel in both, the academic and industrial worlds. The European Charter for Researchers requires that “all researchers … are given the opportunity for professional development and for improving their employability through access to measures for the continuing development of skills and competencies”. In this regard, PROBIST will offer courses and seminars specifically designed to foster these abilities.

One of the main objectives of PREBIST is to provide high quality supervision offering:

• Targeted mentoring and access to a wide variety of scientific activities, services, and networks.
• Have close mentoring: The PREBIST PhD project performed by the fellow will be under the supervision of a reputated scientist, who at the same time will be shaping, together with the fellow, a personalized doctoral career development plan (PDCDP). The goal of this plan will be to develop and foster the individual competences of the fellow.

Calls Structure

The calls for candidatures will be open to everybody but special eligibility criteria and a multistep evaluation procedure will apply. There are no restrictions on gender, age, ethnic groups, national or social origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, language, disability, political opinion, and social or economic conditions. BIST and its associated centres are committed to pro-active policies on equal opportunities and gender issues.

Please review the eligibility and evaluation criteria and carefully read the instructions on how to submit an application before applying.

Applications will exclusively be accepted through the on-line application platform. You will be informed on the state of your application at all stages. The main means of communication during the formal process will be by e-mail. The entire selection process will be managed under strict control of privacy rules.

Calls schedule:

Call 1 (CLOSED): 1 November 2017 – Deadline: 7 January 2018
Interviews: from 9 April to 3 May 2018
Incorporation foreseen from aprox. 08/2018 (*)

Call 2: 27 April 2018 – Deadline: 31 May 2018
Interviews: from 12 to 27 July 2018 (exact days to be confirmed)
Incorporation foreseen around 09/2018 (*)

(*) the exact date of incorporation will be agreed with the host centre once the award is granted. The indicated entry dates are tentative and may be negotiated with the corresponding host centre. PhD matriculation constraint shall be taken into account.

Please check back frequently for updated information and dates.

Research Topics

Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

From the vantage point of molecular science, ICIQ aims to lead cross-strategies to answer major social and economic challenges related to sustainability, energy and health. In this regard, it conducts research of excellence in Catalysis and Renewable Energies.

Research Projects:

ICIQ_C2-O1: Molecular Redox Catalysis for Energy Applications
Group Leader: Antoni Llobet
Kewords: Synthesis of transition metal complexes, spectroscopy, electrochemical properties, reaction mechanisms, new energy conversion schemes

ICIQ_C2-O2: Maximizing the reactivity of CO2 for selective transformation by advanced catalysis engineering
Group Leader: Atsushi Urakawa
Keywords: Heterogeneous catalysis, CO2 conversion, methane activation, in situ/operando spectroscopy

Description: The aim of this project is to develop next-generation heterogeneous catalytic processes through catalyst material engineering and thorough understanding of catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates gained by in situ/operando spectroscopy.

ICIQ_C2-O3: Unravelling the Mechanistic Intricacies of Catalytic Reductive Carboxylation Reactions
Group Leader: Ruben Martin
Keywords: Reaction mechanisms, metal complexes, decomposition pathways, kinetics

Description: Although the development of nickel-catalysed carboxylation reactions of organic matter with CO2 has gained considerable momentum, the mechanism by which these processes operate remain rather speculative and it is based on empirical evidences. This project aims at unravelling the mechanistic intricacies of nickel-catalysed reductive carboxylation reactions by physical organic methods as well as by the isolation of the putative nickel intermediates within the catalytic cycle and study the decomposition pathways of these species in order to design better robust catalytic protocols.

ICIQ_C2-19: Development of new catalytic methods for the synthesis of relevant molecules
Group Leader: Julio Lloret Fillol
Keywords: Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Catalysis, Photocatalysis, Electrocatalysis, C-H activation, CO2 reduction

Description: We will target the use of light or/and electric potential as clean source of energy, in replacement of commonly use chemicals.

Potential target transformation will be i) C-H activation and carbon dioxide reduction as surrogate for CO and COH in the synthesis of complex organic molecules; ii) Enantioselective reduction of organic compounds in water, using as driving force light or electric potential; iii) activation of inert bonds such as C(sp2)-X or C(sp3)-X (X = Cl or F).

ICIQ_C2-20: Design, construction, and investigation of protein-chromophore systems to achieve the efficient conversion of solar energy to fuel
Group Leader: Elisabet Romero
Keywords: Biophysics, Physical Chemistry, Ultrafast Spectroscopy, Light Harvesting, Charge Separation, Solar Energy Conversion, Solar Cells, Solar Fuels

Description: This multidisciplinary project involves biophysics, physical chemistry and synthetic biology. The objective is to design and construct bio-inspired protein-chromophore systems based on the knowledge obtained previously from Photosynthesis (Romero et al, Nature, 2017; The function of these engineered systems will be to absorb and transfer sunlight energy and to convert this energy into electrochemical energy (that is, into a separation of charges). The energy and/or electron transfer dynamics in the systems will be investigated by ultrafast laser spectroscopy, that is, transient absorption and two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2DES). Other systems’ properties will be studied by: steady-state spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, NMR, chromatography, and X-ray spectroscopy. The optimized systems will be utilized to construct solar cells and, ultimately, they will be coupled to catalysts to achieve the efficient conversion of solar energy to fuel. Overall, this project aims to contribute to a sustainable future.

The successful candidate’s background should be (bio)physics or physical chemistry. Expertise in (ultrafast) spectroscopic techniques together with MatLab and Python programming skills will be preferred. Positive attitude, motivation to learn new methods and the ability to work in a team as well as individually are crucial for this position.

ICIQ_C2-21: Catalytic C-H Amination for Innovative Alkaloid Total Synthesis
Group Leader: Kilian Muñiz
Keywords: Homogeneous Catalysis, Natural Product Synthesis, Oxidation, Amination

Description: This project aims to develop innovative C-H amination reactions of alkanes, which have no biosynthetic precedence. They serve as novel entries into alkaloid structures of higher complexity. The topic comprises both the development of such new synthetic methodology and the contribution to the total synthesis of molecules with profound biological or medicinal interest. These strategic approaches are characterized by their de novo retrosynthetic analysis proceeding through a significantly shorter number of steps than usually employed. They will also serve to generate libraries of natural product derivatives for biomedical screening. This latter aspect can be pursued within national and international collaborations.


Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

ICN2 has 17 research groups broadly categorised into five main fields of research: Theory and Simulation; NanoBioSensing Devices; Nanodevice Fabrication and Properties; Chemical Routes to Nanostructures; and Nanoscale Manipulation and Characterisation. These groups are supported by three specialised technical divisions (Nanoscience Instrument Development, Electron Microscopy, Nanomaterials Growth) and a general services division.

Research Projects:

ICN2_C2-O4: Photon-Phonon interaction in 2D organic and inorganic materials by laser and thermal spectroscopies
Group Leader: Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres
Keywords: Nanophononics, Nanophotonics, Topological matter, 2D Materials, Nanocellulose, Nanofabrication, Inelastic light scattering, THz spectroscopy

Description: The study and applications of unique optical and thermal properties of 2D material, be them inorganic (e.g., MoS2) or organic (crystalline nanocellulose) underpins the science of photon-phonon interactions in these increasingly important technological materials. It is proposed to study these interactions at general and specific levels in the cases of inorganic and organic text-book example materials, by inelastic light scattering, THz spectroscopy, time-domain thermoreflectance, luminescence and a series of thermal methods.

We look for properties that can bestow a proven functionality to laboratory-scale devices made of these materials. While in 2D MoS2 there is a fast rising activity, these studies do not yet exists in crystalline nanocellulose, an emerging future environmentally sound material.

ICN2_C2-O5: Nanoparticles for brain tumours and neurodegenerative diseases
Group Leader: Daniel Ruiz-Molina
Keywords: Neurodegeneration; Parkinson’s disease; Protein aggregation; Dopamine; Nanoparticles; Biomedical imaging

Description: The overall objective of this project is to develop frontier research at the cross border between Neuroscience and Nanotechnology. More precisely, we aim to understand the role of endogenous catecholamine-based molecules (and their intermediates) in the formation of nanostructures present within some particular cell types from the Central Nervous System (CNS), such as dopaminergic neurons. Understanding the role they play in Neurodegenerative diseases via metal-induced aggregation, ROS effect of radical polymerization, among others, might promote important steps towards elucidating the chemical and molecular aspects that underlie the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

The second part of the Thesis would be devoted to improve current treatments for target neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular focus on Parkinson’s disease, by developing novel therapeutic strategies. These approaches will involve the use of nanocarriers, mostly based on metal-organic and/or mesoporous silica nanoparticles for the treatment of some of the previously studied alterations. The project will conclude with the design and fabrication of theranostics nanoplatforms to combine the controlled released of drugs together with biomedical imaging.

The candidate will have available all the techniques, knowledge and collaborations required to develop this project as well as a broad support and formation on different multidisciplinary areas, from synthesis of nanoparticles to in vitro and in vivo studies.

ICN2_C2-O6: Theory and Simulation Group
Group Leader: Pablo Ordejon
Keywords: First-principles simulations, quantum transport, spintronics, nanoelectronics, magnetism, topological insulators, heterostructures, interfaces, nanomaterials, computational material design

Description: The project focuses on the use and development of first-principles computational techniques to engineer novel topological insulating materials, for spintronics applications.

Topological Insulators (TI) are a recently discovered state of matter displaying a bulk energy gap and conducting surface states protected by time-reversal symmetry. The robustness of these surface states against defects and temperature makes possible spin transport without losses and find applications in low-dissipation spintronic devices. The challenge is to discover TI materials which are robust and compatible with actual device implementation. Hence, new routes to design TI need to be explored.

The computational approach is an optimal tool to accelerate material development. As the chemical-physical properties of materials ultimately depend on their atomic structure, quantum-mechanical simulations with atomic resolution, such as Density Functional Theory (DFT) and Non-Equilibrium Green’s Functions (NEGF) techniques, are necessary to achieve accurate predictions of their electronic, magnetic and quantum transport properties. This approach allows one to explore existing and predict new nanostructures, tune their properties, model quantum spin transport in realistic operating conditions, and ultimately automate the prediction of novel functional materials.

ICN2_C2-O7: Design of magneto-plasmonic nanoparticles for dual modal imaging and therapy
Group Leader: Victor Puntes, Neus G. Bastús
Keywords: Inorganic Nanoparticles, characterization, functionalization, biomedicine, theranostics, multifunctional nanomaterials

Description: Inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) which can simultaneously perform multiple functions, such as such as diagnosis with multiple imaging modalities and complementary therapeutic strategies for synergetic effects (theranostics) are emerging as potential probes in next-generation biomedical applications. These multifunctional platforms are advanced NPs with a high level of complexity composed by the combination of different domains (each one accomplishing a specific task) in a single structure. Among the different possibilities a model case is the combination of a magnetic domain (FexOy) with an optically active plasmonic material (Au, specially Hollow), resulting in a NP that can be used as innovative theranostic platform for dual imaging, providing contrast enhancement in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while enhancing radiation effects. The imaging and the radiosensitization potentialities of NPs arise from the superparamagnetic behaviour of FexOy, the plasmonic properties of gold nanoshells and the large X-ray extinction coefficient of Au, respectively. Despite recent synthetic efforts to produce these multifunctional systems, the lack of control of the properties of each individual domain in the final heterostructure is still unresolved. The main challenge is the controlled high yield synthesis of these NPs, in particular their uniformity in size, shape, chemical composition, structure and architecture along with their stability in biological environments, necessary to produce pharmacological grade materials. In this context, the purpose of this work is to design and develop complex heterostructured (Au-FexOy) NPs which an improved applicability in dual-imaging and to provide evaluations about the potentialities of NPs as MRI-contrast agents and radiosensitizers.

The research will involve:
• Design and developing of synthetic protocols for the productions of advanced complex inorganic NPs with control over particle size, morphology, composition, structure and architecture.
• Study of NPs surface chemistry and functionalization to control interparticle interactions and with particle environment.
• Detailed physicochemical characterization, to assess the novel materials potential in the medium of work and during work.
• In vitro and In vivo evaluation for biomedical applications.

Group Leader: Pablo Ordejon
Keywords: Solid State Physics, thin sheet, Electron transport properties, Interfaces, Magnetic properties, Surfaces, Thermal properties of solids, Nanomaterials, computational materials design

Description: First-principles simulations of the electronic properties of nanostructured systems, including magnetic, vibrational, and transport effects. Deployment of automatization and high-throughput protocols based on the SIESTA package. Development of analysis tools and workflows for low dimensional materials.


Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

IRB Barcelona aims to answer fundamental questions in biomedicine and apply new knowledge to real issues in human health. Its current 24 groups are organised into five research programmes: Cell and Developmental Biology; Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Molecular Medicine; Structural and Computational Biology; and Oncology.

Research Projects:

IRB Barcelona_C2-O8
Group Leader: Lluís Ribas de Pouplana
Keywords: Protein synthesis, modified nucleosides, transfer RNA

Description: Understanding the impact of RNA modification upon proteome composition. This is work stemming from several publications from our group, starting with: Novoa et al, Cell (2012)

IRB Barcelona_C2-O9
Group Leader: Xavier Salvatella
Keywords: Transcription, intrinsically disordered proteins, liquid liquid phase separation, drug discovery, nuclear magnetic resonance, molecular simulations.

Description: We are interested in understanding the role that liquid liquid phase separation processes involving transcription factors plays in transcriptional regulation. We are also interested in interfering with those processes for cancer therapy.

IRB Barcelona_C2-1O: Progenitor cells in Drosophila as in in vivo paradigm of cell plasticity, multipotency and reprogramming
Group Leader: Jordi Casanova
Keywords: Genetics (2409), Cellular Biology (2407), Cell plasticity, Regeneration

IRB Barcelona_C2-11: Using Drosophila melanogaster to identify new targets to inhibit malignant growth
Group Leader: Cayetano González
Keywords: malignant growth, cancer testis antigens, Drosophila, l(3)mbt, cancer therapy

Description: The research project is fully integrated into the main activities and interests of the laboratory. In our research group, we model cancer in flies to understand the cellular changes that drive malignant growth and to identify conserved mechanisms that might be relevant for human cancer therapy. We focus on the mechanisms of malignant transformation in larval brains. We have revealed that neuroblasts can originate tumours if the process of self-renewing asymmetric division is disrupted. We have discovered a fly model of human tumours characterized by the ectopic expression of Cancer Testis antigens and revealed a functional requirement for some of those genes for tumour growth. We have described a method to assay the tumourigenic potential of Drosophila mutant tissues. We also maintain a very active line of research to identify new centrosomal proteins and found some with human orthologs that are linked to human pathologies. We also work on the mechanisms that bring about genome instability in Drosophila tumours. For our research, we develop and make extensive use of microscopy techniques.

IRB Barcelona_C2-12: Hypermutation in somatic cells: biological insights and implications to human health
Group Leader: Fran Supek
Keywords: Genomics, mutations, DNA repair, evolution, selection, gene function

IRB Barcelona_C2-13: Deciphering the mechanisms correlating cell signalling and gene expression using high resolution structural biology and Biocomputing approaches. Discovering how biological processes are regulated –or misregulated- and their implications in human diseases.
Group Leader: Maria J. Macias
Keywords: Molecular structure, X-ray Crystallography, Nuclear magnetic resonance, cryo-EM, SAXS, disease mutation analysis, Cell signaling, Gene regulation

IRB Barcelona_C2-14: Epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure and function
Group Leader: Ferran Azorin
Keywords: Linker histone H1/ higher-order chromatin organization/ transcription/ genome stability/ centromere/ chromosome segregation

IRB Barcelona_C2-15
Group Leader: Modesto Orozco
Keywords: Molecular Modelling, Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, Nucleic Acids, Chromatin, Molecular Simulation, Computational Chemistry, DNA, RNA.

Description: Candidate will work in the development of methods coupling theoretical models and experimental data for the determination of chromatin structure and its connection with cellular function and pathology.

IRB Barcelona_C2-16: Translational regulation of the antitumoral immune response in squamous cell carcinoma
Group Leader: Raúl Méndez
Keywords: RNA-binding proteins; Mechanisms of translational regulation; genome-wide translational reprograming; cell cycle; tumor development

IRB Barcelona_C2-17: Single cell transcriptomics and phenotypic diversity
Group Leader: Eulàlia de Nadal, Francesc Posas
Kewords: MAP kinases, signalling, cellular stress, transcriptomics, single cell analysis

IRB Barcelona_C2-25: Structural Bioinformatics & Network Biology group
Group Leader: Patrick Aloy
Keywords: Computational biology (240499); Neurophysiology (249001); Network biology; Network medicine.

Description: Alzheimer´s disease (AD) is a paradigm of a complex disorder where, despite many years of research, the only available medical treatments are purely symptomatic and hardly effective, and most developments aiming at modifying the biology of the disease have failed. It seems now clear that the modulation of a single target, even with a very efficient drug, is unlikely to yield the desired outcome, and we should increase the level of complexity of our proposed therapies from a gene-centric to a network-centric view.
For many years, small molecules have been the main asset of pharmaceutical companies. However, there is a productivity crisis and the massive release of small molecule bioactivity data has not transformed drug discovery to the extent ‘omics’ data has transformed other biomedical sciences. To address these issues, we have developed a knowledge-based framework to digest and organize publicly-available or proprietary compound bioactivities and express them in a vector form that can be used out-of-the-box in daily computational drug discovery tasks. The main objective of this project is to build on the general expertise of the group to develop a systems pharmacology strategy to stop AD progression and, when possible, revert the molecular signatures of disease hippocampi to healthy-like states. Overall, we aim at breaking the crystal wall separating pre- and clinical research phases, leading to a more efficient drug development process.


Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

IFAE conducts experimental and theoretical research at the frontier of fundamental physics, namely in Particle Physics, Astrophysics, and Cosmology. IFAE also works at the cutting edge of detector technology, applying its know-how to Medical Imaging, Data-Intensive Computing and projects in other research and engineering domains.

Research Projects:

Group Leader: Mokhtar Chmeissani
Keywords: PET, pixel-CdTe, Compton-Camera

Description: IFAE medical imaging group has build a small Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for R&D based on pixel CdTe. This PET device provides unprecedented precision in energy and spatial resolution, allowing the construction of Compton cone for events that have undergone Compton scatter process. The PET scanner is operational and more tests will be carried at different working condition to extract its best performance.

We are seeking a Ph.D student to do the physics simulation of particle interaction with matter using GAMOS simulation package, data analysis using any of the following programs Root/Python/Mathmetica, and Image the reconstruction for PET scanner, Compton Camera, and Compton-PET

IFAE_C2-23: Searches for new phenomena with the ATLAS detector at the LHC
Group Leader: Martine Bosman – ATLAS Group
Keywords: Experimental particle physics, CERN, LHC, ATLAS experiment

Description: IFAE maintains a strong presence in the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), with major responsibilities on the calibration and maintenance of the TileCal hadronic calorimeter and the High-Level Trigger system, and participates in IBL operations and the Pixel detector upgrade. The IFAE-ATLAS group has also developed an exciting and broad research program that includes precision measurements of the top quark and the Higgs boson, and searches for new phenomena beyond the Standard Model (e.g. supersymmetry, extra spatial dimensions, dark matter, new heavy quarks and Higgs bosons, etc).

The successful fellow will join the IFAE-ATLAS group and will participate in first-class research within the ATLAS Collaboration. He/she will be expected to play a leading role in physics analysis using the full Run 2 dataset. In addition, he/she will actively participate in the maintenance and operation of the ATLAS detector during Run 2, and will also contribute to ongoing work towards its future upgrade. The results of this research will be presented at internal ATLAS meeting and international conferences/workshops, and will be published in peer-reviewed international journals. This position involves extended stays at CERN

IFAE_C2-24: Gamma rays, astroparticle physics, MAGIC, CTA-North
Group Leader: Manel Martínez
Keywords: Gamma rays, astroparticle physics, MAGIC, CTA-North

Description: The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next generation ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies (from 20 GeV to > 100 TeV). With over 100 telescopes located in two sites in the northern and southern hemispheres, CTA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory ever built. Spain will host the CTA-North observatory at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in the Canary island of La Palma.

CTA is expected to bring about a huge leap in our understanding of the high-energy sky by detecting hundreds of objects. That will include remnants of supernova explosions, rapidly spinning ultra-dense stars known as pulsars, star-forming galaxies and galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centres and whole clusters of galaxies. Besides this variety of astrophysical scenarios, gamma rays detected with CTA may also provide a direct signature of dark matter annihilation or decay, unveil possible deviations from Einstein’s theory of relativity, and probe the contents of cosmic voids that exist between galaxy filaments in the Universe.

The gamma-ray astrophysics group at IFAE is playing a leading role in the ongoing construction of the first of the four large-size telescopes of CTA-North, dubbed LST-1, equipped with a 23-m diameter dish, that will be installed at the ORM through 2017. IFAE is also one of the founding members of the MAGIC collaboration, which successfully operates the twin MAGIC gamma-ray telescopes at the ORM since 2003. IFAE designed and built the camera of the first MAGIC telescope, as well as a significant part of the data acquisition electronics for both telescopes. Our group is also responsible for the science data center of the MAGIC collaboration, located at the neighboring Port d’Informació Cientìfica (PIC), and participates in most of the MAGIC physics working groups.

The subject of this PhD work shall be the science with the MAGIC Telescopes and first science with CTA-North. The successful candidate will join the gamma-ray team at IFAE to take part in the data analysis and interpretation of the MAGIC observations as well as first CTA-North data. It is expected that LST-1 will often operate in stereoscopic mode together with the MAGIC telescopes. The scientific topic, within those covered by the group (dark matter searches, galactic sources, active galactic nuclei and gamma-ray propagation) will be agreed with the candidate upon joining the group.


Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

ICFO is devoted to the science and technologies of light with fundamental and applied research programmes that address issues such as health, renewable energies, information technologies, and security and industrial processes, among others. ICFO currently hosts more than 400 researchers organised into 25 research groups and teams and 60 laboratories.

Note that ICFO is not hosting any projects for the current call. 

Partner Institutions

The following partner institution are already available for undertaking secondments. The possibility of working with other partners can be explored during the fellowship.

ALBA Synchrotron Light Source
Cerdanyola de Vallès, ES (Barcelona)

Barcelona, ES

Barcelona, ES

CRAC Career Development Organization
Cambridge, UK

Dark Energy Survey – University of Chicago
Chicago, USA

Eurecat Technology Center
Barcelona, ES

Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Nanoscale Science
Weizmann Institute of Science, Materials and Interfaces Department
Rehovot, IL

Hokkaido University, Faculty of Advanced Life Science
Sapporo, JP

Imperial College London, research group for high energy particle physics
London, UK

Innovació I Recerca Industrial I Sostenible – IRIS
Castelldefels (Barcelona), ES

Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute – IDIBAPS)
Barcelona, ES

Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia – IBEC
Barcelona, ES

Intelligent Pharma S.A.
Barcelona, ES

Iproteos S.L.
Barcelona, ES

Laboratorios Dr. Esteve, S.A.U.
Barcelona, ES

Leitat Technology Center
Barcelona, ES

Michigan State University, Department of Physics and Astronomy
East Lansing, MI, USA

Mind the Byte, S.L.
Barcelona, ES

Mynoryx Therapeutics S.L.
Mataró (Barcelona), ES

Nanonica S.A.
Lugano, CH

Radboud University Medical Center, Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Nijmegen, NL

Research Center of Vall d’Hebron – VHIR
Barcelona, ES

RMIT Europe

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona – UAB
Bellaterra (Barcelona), ES

Universitat Rovira i Virgil – URV
Tarragona, ES

Université de Pau & Pays de l’Adour (UPPA)
Pau, FR

University of Toronto, Insitute of Particle Physics
Toronto, CA

Eligibility Criteria & Evaluation Process

Eligibility Criteria

To be admitted to the review process, candidates must comply with the following eligibility criteria:

• Presenting complete applications including all requested compulsory information and documentation.

• Having not spent more than 12 months of the prior 36 months in Spain, at the time of the call deadline. You will be required to confirm your compliance through a self-declaration.

• Hold a University degree (by the time of enrollment in the PhD program) that would qualify the applicant to enter one of the PhD programmes recognized by the BIST research centers. These have formal agreements with the major Catalan Universities (UB, UAB, UPC, URV, and UPF) whereby BIST senior researchers (generally of professorial rank and enjoying international recognition) are accredited to supervise PhD students, who do their research at BIST research centres and obtain their degree from the corresponding university. Please provide evidence when you apply (e.g. scanned copy of your degree or similar).

• At the time of the call deadline, be in the first 4 years of your scientific post gradual career (full-time equivalent research experience). In case your University degree was longer ago than 4 years, you will need to provide documental evidence for complying with this criteria.

• Having not been awarded yet a PhD degree.

Evaluation & Selection

The evaluation of eligible candidates will be carried out by an external, independent selection panel. The evaluation will be objective, independent, free of conflicts of interest and the selection will be based on merits, equal opportunities and freedom of choice of research.

Please, kindly note that you can select up to 3 topics (from the same or different host centres) but you will only be evaluated by the review panel related to the centre hosting the topic you select as 1st  choice.

The review procedure will be carried out in various steps:

  1. First review by the selection panel reviewing the documentation submitted with the application. General suitability and admissibility for the PREBIST programme will be evaluated (review 1).
  2. Second review by the selection panel: interviews (review 2).
  3. Decision on awardees, reserve list and rejected candidatures.

The evaluation criteria to be applied to review 1 (pre-selection phase) are:

• Scientific capacities: assessed based on application material presented:

* Education: graduate education, level and grades achieved. (45/100)
* Research experience: research skills acquired, ability for scientific analysis, scientific production in terms of publications, patents, and attendance to international conferences, etc. (10/100)
* Quality and support of Referees (15/100)
* Strength and relevance of Motivation (25/100)
* Mobility experience: experience in multicultural environments, capacity for adaptation to different working environments, etc. (5/100)

• Admissibility to the corresponding hosting centre’s PhD programme: academic suitability assessed based on application material presented (Y/N).

Only the best shortlisted candidates shall pass to the next step.

The evaluation criteria to be applied to review 2 (selection phase) are:

• Creativity, independent thinking, resourcefulness (20/100)
• Research experience (20/100)
• Motivation for applying for the PREBIST fellowship (15/100)
• International and/or multicultural experience (15/100)
• Industrial collaboration and/or technology transfer knowledge/experience (15/100)
• Presentation and outreach skills, social awareness (15/25)

Final overall score = 0,75 * score pre-selection phase + 0.25 * score selection phase

The weightings in the final overall scoremay be modulated in order to ensure fair and coherent cross-comparison of evaluations in the different call themes. The threshold for being included into the final short-list for fellowship concession is set at 70%.

Intended re-integration of scientists after a career break is encouraged. Equal opportunities is a principle for the selection process. BIST and the participating centres aim at equal gender balance and pay special attention to candidatures coming from unfavourable conditions.

Applicants will be informed on the progress at all stages of the process. The default means for communication is e-mail.

Due to the large number of applications received in the previous call, only applicants passing to subsequent evaluation steps will be informed of the progress at all stages of the process. The candidates being interviewed will receive an evaluation report for their candidature should they request it. The default means for communication is e-mail through

Submitting an Application

Preparing an application

The on-line submission platform for the current call will be open from 27 April 2018. The deadline for the submission of applications is 31 May 2018 end of the day (CET).

Please check the specific call parameters for detailed timelines and research topics.

Before start applying, please carefully read the below instructions.

Start your application now.

Applications checklist for the initial submission:
By the deadline, the following documentation and information needs to be presented to be eligible:

1. Application form on personal data (on-line form to be filled in)

• Basic personal data and contact information

2. Application form on background (on-line form to be filled in)

• Specific background information on University degree, previous works, results, awards, etc.
• Upload of the Degree certificate or substituting document issued by the corresponding University
• Indication of the preferred research projects (one or several)
• Indication of reference persons who endorse your candidature
• Additional information relevant for the application and the eligibility, if applicable

3. Letter of motivation (document upload)

• The cover letter addresses research interests and motivation for the application, as well as the applicant’s background and suitability for the fellowship.

4. Curriculum Vitae (document upload)

• Applicants should indicate their academic and professional trajectory and include any relevant information on publications, awards or other scientific or academic merits and experience. Candidates with career breaks or variations in the chronological sequence of their career steps are welcome to apply.

Applications cannot be updated after the submission. Only complete applications are eligible.

After the deadline, applicants will be checked for eligibility. Non-eligible applicants will be rejected. The eligible candidates will be reviewed by the selection panel. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to the second review stage (pre-selected candidates).

Requirements for the second review stage

The shortlisted pre-selected candidates will be invited to an interview at the centre(s) where they have obtained a hosting commitment. The dates for the interview are published in the call information when the call is opened. The interview provides applicants the opportunity to further explain their experience, highlight their achievements, and describe their career aspirations and any other personal or professional aspects of relevance.

Successful candidates will be awarded the fellowship or put onto a reserve list according to a shortlist created by the selection panel. Candidates not passing the 70% evaluation threshold will be rejected. Rejected candidates have the right to appeal in justified cases, like evidence of bias or conflict of interest by evaluators, evidence of failure to have reasonably followed the published evaluation procedure, factual errors by evaluators that have substantially altered the outcome of evaluation.

Awardees will be offered the fellowship that they would need to accept or reject within 1 week after the offer. Accepting the offer will start the incorporation process.

Applicants will be informed on the progress of their application at all stages of the process.

All personal data will be treated confidentially.

Start your application now.

After Application

Redress procedure
In case you consider it necessary to redress the evaluation result, please direct your request through our contact form on indicating the programme (PREBIST) and the call deadline. Please state clearly the reasons for your redress. Only justified requests that indicate serious doubts with complying the principles applicable to the evaluation and selection procedure can be taken into account and evaluated.

Accepting the offer of the grant will start the incorporation process.

Requirements for starting your fellowship, in case of being selected:
• At the time of recruitment you will need to be admitted to a homologated PhD programme recognized by your BIST host centre. This may require homogenization of academics credits or degrees. It also will require a formal inscription process to the corresponding Catalan University. Your hosting centre will provide you with further information on time once you accepted the grant.
• You will have to take care of obtaining Visa, work permit and the Spanish Social Security number. You will also need to register residency in Spain in order to obtain the necessary tax number. Your future host organization will provide support and orientation where possible.
• Sign a work contract with the host centre. The place of work will be at the host centre. The usual working conditions of the host apply to your fellowship.

Living and working in Barcelona
An exhaustive description on work and life in Catalonia can be found here.

Post award requirements
The fellows will participate in the generation of the scientific and review reports for the European Commission wherever this is necessary. The European Commission or BIST may require to give feedback on the program and the personal experience of the fellow in it. Both can be necessary during and after the fellowship. In particular, the PREBIST Fellows will need to prepare a final report after the completion of their fellowship. This report should arrive the BIST project manager no later than eight weeks after the end of the fellowship.


The following PhD students have successfully been awarded the PREBIST fellowships and have either started or will soon be starting their research at one of the BIST centres:

Clara Borrás Eroles
Mateusz Biesaga
Błażej Bagiński
Hansol Bae
Junda Zhang
Gubakhanim Shanahzarove
Bruna Gabrielly de Moraes Araújo
Christina Stefani
Omar Florez
Saptam Ganguly
Ivana Cavaliere
Peng Xiao
Nils Wittemeier
Linda-Sheila Medondjio
Donato Pinto
Craig Day
Nicolás Mateos
Christian Knapp
Emmanuel Baffu Amuah
Yongjie Wang
Yann Cado
Umut Demirbozan
Chaitanya Priyadarshi
Mahboobeh Sarajiannami
Anil Sonay

Institutional Members of the Board of Trustees