Innovative Applications of Extracorporeal Photopheresis in Solid Organ Transplantation

exTra Consortium: Call for applications for 11 Doctoral (PhD) Training Positions in basic and translational immunotherapy

Offer Description

exTra is a Doctoral Network funded by the European Union Horizon Europe Programme. The exTra Consortium is a research network of leading European scientists from academia and industry, experts in clinical transplantation, immunology, pharmaceutical development and medical device manufacture to address key questions on extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) through a coordinated, interdisciplinary effort. exTra proposes 11 independent doctoral research projects with the ambition of
providing its trainees with a comprehensive understanding of basic and translational
immunology, especially relating to development and licensing of new immunotherapies. Through its research and training activities, the exTra project will contribute to scientific advancement and innovation in Europe, ultimately leading to societal and economic benefits stemming from clinical innovations in transplant immunotherapy and beyond.

Graduates of exTra will be well-prepared to enter the workplace with an innovative and beyond state-of-the-art view on fundamental and translational immunology especially relating to development and licensing of new immunotherapies.

Participating in exTra offers doctoral candidates many unique opportunities, including:

  • A project as Marie Skłodowska Curie trainee in one of the participating institutions with the objective of receiving a doctoral degree (PhD).
  • State-of-the art, exciting research in an international consortium with highly integrated research projects.
  • Expert training in preclinical and clinical development of cell-based medicinal products.
  • At least six weeks of research training in the lab of another consortium member, mostly in a different EU country than the country where most of the project will take place.
  • Training in both academic and commercial research environments.
  • Salary according to EU guidelines for Marie Skłodowska Curie trainees, including mobility payments and family allowances where applicable.

Eligibility criteria

Experience eligibility requirement

Eligible candidates must:

  • hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in a field of science relevant to their chosen project (see below)
  • demonstrate a history of academic excellence
  • demonstrate an affinity for Basic Immunology and translational research
  • not already be in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of recruitment.
Mobility eligibility requirement

The fellow must not have resided in the country where the research training activities will take place for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date (and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country).

Other requirements


  • Applicants must speak and write fluently in English
  • Applicants should be available to start their project preferably not later than 1st October, 2023
  • Applicants must be eligibile to work in the European Union.
  • Other eligibility criteria may apply depending on the recruiting beneficiary.


Application Process

exTra will select Doctoral Candidates through a 2-step recruitment process.
The selection procedure will be open, transparent, and merit-based, fully aligned with the Code of Conduct for the
Recruitment of Researchers. Although the selection will be based on the quality of applications, gender balance will also be considered.
Candidates can apply for maximum three PhD projects and the applications need to be submitted separately.
Applications (in English) must include:

  1. a cover letter which will also include the motivation for the position, emphasizing the candidate’s strength
    regarding the project and the requirements (max 3 pages)
  2. a CV (max 2 pages)
  3. a scanned copy of all relevant diplomas or certificates that formally entitle the candidate to embark on a
    doctorate. Typically, these documents will include Batchelor’s and Master’s Degree certificates. In case the
    Master’s Degree has not been obtained yet at the closing date for application, the candidate has to submit a
    declaration signed by their supervisor or University official stating that the degree will be obtained by the
    time of PhD enrolment.
  4. Letter of Recommendation from two appropriate referees or contact details of two referees

Application documents in a single pdf file should be sent by email to Mrs. Christine Bayer, Project Administrator ( and to the relevant project supervisors (see email address in individual project descriptions). The subject line of the email must be in the following format: “exTra: application for Project#_Title of PhD project”.
Applicants are advised to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the projects, for which they apply and be ready to
answer questions on their chosen topics. After reviewing all project applications, supervisors of individual projects will contact selected applicants to organise an initial screening interview by telephone or videoconferencing. The most
promising candidates may then be invited to a personal interview at the host institution or a further videoconference,
potentially with several other project supervisors.

ESR Project Title Primary Supervisor Institution State
1 Immunometabolic impact of ECP in transplantation
SAFINIA, Niloufar
King’s College London (KCL) UK
2 Modulation of NK cell and MRC responses after ECP therapy
ZEISER, Robert
Univ. Hospital Freiburg (UKL-FR) DE
3 ECP induction therapy after lung transplantation
Medical University of Vienna (MUV) AT
4 Prevention of de novo donor-specific antibody production by ECP
ten BRINKE, Anja
VAN HAM, Marieke
Stichting Sanquin Bloedvoorziening (SQ) NL
5 ECP as add-on therapy in high-risk kidney transplant recipients
Barcelona Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques (IDIBAPS) ES
6 ECP therapy to prevent CLAD in patients with persistent de novo DSA
BENAZZO, Alberto Medical University of Vienna (MUV) AT
7 Treatment of ischaemia-reperfusion injury after liver transplantation
EGGENHOFER, Elke Univ. Hospital Regensburg (UHREG) DE
8 ECP as a bridging therapy before liver transplantation
HUTCHINSON, James Univ. Hospital Regensburg (UHREG) DE
9 Pharmacodynamic markers of ECP therapy in transplantation
MARTÍNEZ, Eva Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP) ES
10 Soluble mediators elicited by ECP that promote transplant tolerance
Univ. Hospital Erlangen (UKER) DE
11 ECP preconditioning to reverse trained immunity in kidney transplantation
Instituto de Salud, Carlos III (ISCIII) ES

Funded by the European Union under Grant Agreement 101119855.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.
Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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