Postdoctoral Position in Nanoparticle-mediated microRNA manipulation in Neural Stem Cells - [ Postdoc ]

Workplace: Genova, IIT
Added on: 02/11/2017 - Expires on: 20/11/2017

The “Neurobiology of miRNA” and the “Polymers and Biomaterials” Research Lines of IIT in Genoa, are seeking to employ a post-doctoral candidate to implement a strategy for the manipulation of neural stem cells from adult mammalian brain through the nanoparticle-mediated delivery of microRNA (miRNA).

The latter are a class of small noncoding RNAs expressed in virtually all organisms; in the mammalian brain, they regulate essential genes and pathways, e.g. in adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

In the adult brain, stem cells are preserved in few “niches” where they generate neurons (and glia) throughout life. Adult neurogenesis may influence learning, memory and as it is regulated by the environment (e.g. physical activity), hence it is considered a form of brain’s “structural” plasticity. Several conditions, such as ageing and perturbation of daily rhythms, have been shown to strongly reduce the capacity of neural stem cell for self-renewal and for the generation of adult neurons, thus paving the way to neuro-pathologies such as cognitive decline and depression. The project focuses on understanding the role of the selective miRNA-mediated abrogation of some pathways on the neurogenic capacity of these stems cells.

One year Postdoctoral position will be available starting from January 2018 to explore the use of Nanoparticle-mediated RNA delivery strategies to manipulate specific miRNAs, to sustain self-renewal of adult neural stem.

In our laboratory we have identified miRNAs that are necessary and sufficient to support the adult neurogenesis fate in adult neural stem cells (Pons-Espinal et al Stem Cell Reports 2017) and developed chitosan/hyaluronic acid nanoparticles that are optimized for the delivery of small RNAs (Lallana E et al Mol Pharm. 2017). The project will be conducted by combining expertise in molecular biology, drug delivery and nanomaterials as well as cell biology of neural stem cells, genomics, imaging. Thus, this project is at the interface of different disciplines, and will exploit the multidisciplinary expertise of IIT. Our labs are located in the IIT Central research labs in Genoa, Italy and provide state-of-the-art laboratory facilities.

Ideal candidate must hold a PhD in Neuroscience, (Stem) cell biology, Biochemistry or a related discipline and be highly motivated and creative individuals who want to work in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary research environment. The essential criteria for the candidates to be consider include expertise in:

  • Primary cell culture preparation/manipulation
  • Basic molecular biology (e.g., RNA extraction and analysis, quantitative RT PCR, etc.)
  • Basic understanding of stem cell biology
  • Prior experience in general drug delivery with nanomaterials, and/or in nucleic acid delivery through viral or non-viral carriers is strongly desired, although not absolutely necessary. A good knowledge of the English language is an absolute requisite. Successful applicants should also be willing to learn a variety of complementary techniques ranging from imaging, transgene expression via genetic or acute manipulations (e.g., virus preparation injection and/or electroporation), to genome-wide profiling and biochemistry.

    To apply please send a CV, publication list, research interest statement and names of 2 referees to or

    Position will be open until filled but please apply by November 20, 2017.

    Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia – IIT ( was founded with the objective of promoting Italy’s technological development and further education in science and technology. In this sense, IIT's scientific program is based on the combination of basic scientific research with the development of technical applications, a major inspirational principle. The research areas cover scientific topics of high innovative content representing the most advanced frontiers of modern technology, with wide application possibilities in various fields ranging from medicine to industry, from computer science to robotics, life sciences and nano-biotechnology.

    In order to comply with Italian law (art. 23 of Privacy Law of the Italian Legislative Decree n. 196/03), the candidate is kindly asked to give his/her consent to allow IIT to process his/her personal data. We inform you that the information you provide will be solely used for the purpose of assessing your professional profile to meet the requirements of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. Your data will be processed by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, with its headquarters in Genoa, Via Morego 30, acting as the Data Holder, using computer and paper-based means, observing the rules on the protection of personal data, including those relating to the security of data. Please also note that, pursuant to art.7 of Legislative Decree 196/2003, you may exercise your rights at any time as a party concerned by contacting the Data Manager.

    Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia is an Equal Opportunity Employer that actively seeks diversity in the workforce.

    Involved Research lines
    Neurobiology of miRNA Polymers and Biomaterials


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    L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

    IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

    Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

    Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

    La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

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    Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

    IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

    In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

    So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.