i2TRON - PhD Training Program

About i2TRON - PhD Training Program

Background

Currently, there is a substantial gap between excellent fundamental research and the transfer of knowledge and innovations into preclinical and clinical research to advance real-world healthcare for citizens. There is a major need for creating an interactive and interdisciplinary research culture and to implement overarching, integrative translational research concepts. 

i2TRON is a doctoral training unit (DTU) of 20 Ph.D. positions with a strong focus on developing the new generation of translational scientists, who can turn observations in the laboratory, clinical setting or community into interventions that improve health of individuals via innovative diagnostics or treatments. Here we use specific non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as model diseases across auto-immunity/allergy, cancer and neurodegeneration, that are characterized by inflammation as shared key pathogenic mechanism.

In i2TRON, the participating biomedical research stakeholders will complement their portfolio towards a comprehensive translational scientist training to form rigorous researchers, that are at the same time team players, boundary crossers, process innovators, domain experts, system thinkers and, last not least, skilled communicators to disseminate their research. Overall, 20 experienced supervisors, including  four  physician scientists representing the focus areas,  join forces across the Luxembourg the Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Luxembourg (UL), the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS) and the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) to bridge and translate fundamental and clinical research into novel strategies for clinical practice. Each partner institution offers specialized research expertise as well as access to cutting-edge IT-, laboratory- and clinical infrastructures and combining their domain expertise in a collaborative scheme to push the frontier of knowledge.


Objectives

The aim of i2TRON is to train next generation translational scientists in order to advance research innovations focusing on immunological components across model diseases, and to turn new mechanistic insight into diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to improve patient care. The objectives of i2TRON are as followed:

  1. Tackle relevant research challenges by integrating patient-informed models for novel therapeutic strategies.

  2. Accelerate translation of fundamental research discoveries to the clinical setting.

  3. Develop a translational science mind-set and communication skill in doctoral researchers and established scientists.

  4. Foster biomedical innovations through multidisciplinary collaborations and systems-based thinking.

  5. Develop translational research capacity across different disciplines of excellence in Luxembourg.


PhD training and research environment

i2TRON offers unique environments of excellence in research that cover the whole translational spectrum, including (i) fundamental research on inflammation, cancer and neurodegeneration, (ii) clinical research combined with access to data and biospecimen from large patient cohorts, and (iii) knowledge on successful implementation for preclinical research and clinical studies.

This DTU will leverage on already existing immunological expertise within the fields of Allergology & Clinical Immunology, Neuo-Immunology and Immuno-Oncology at LIH and UL. It will benefit from successful existing Ph.D. training programs such as NextImmune and CANBIO coordinated by LIH, as well as from the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s disease (NCER-PD), a consortium that successfully integrated all fundamental and clinical research institutions . Moreover, the DTU builds on unique resources like the deeply phenotyped longitudinal patient cohorts together with a variety of different biosamples collected within the NCER-PD and large-scale patient-based sample collections established, e.g., in context of the Personalized Medicine Consortium (PMC) and the National Cancer Plan of Luxembourg.

Interdisciplinary thinking is a particular focus of i2TRON. Training PhD candidates beyond the comfort zone of their respective background will prepare them for the future of translational biomedical research, which increasingly involves expertise in the full translational pipeline from fundamental research to clinical studies. Students can benefit from the interdisciplinary structures already in place through, where bioinformaticians, fundamental scientists and health professionals involved in research meet regularly. Furthermore, many of the proposed PhD projects will be jointly performed between different disciplines/departments/institutions within this DTU, underlining the interdisciplinary character of i2TRON.

These close collaborations offer a unique national network across short distances in Luxembourg. The next generation of translational scientists trained within i2TRON will highly profit from joint forces of healthcare and biomedical sector, allowing training along the entire bed-bench-bed pipeline.

The Ph.D. students will be affiliated with the University of Luxembourg. A limited number of projects may be affiliated with the Department of Clinical Research at the University of Southern Denmark.


Funding

i2TRON is funded over a period of 6.5 years by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) through the competitive PRIDE program.