EU offers Global opportunities to Postdoctoral researchers

The EU’s Horizon Europe has begun and Sweden, Switzerland and UK, as an associate partner that has the same rights as full partners, will be actively engaged in research. As such we will be submitting grants in areas of medical engineering and biomechanics using both bottom-up instruments and top-down specified calls.

One of these instruments that allows collaboration development are through the Postdoctoral fellowships – which allow an overseas post PhD researcher to undertake research and research training in Europe (max 8 years research experience since their PhD).  The proposed call opens on 18 May 2021 with a proposed call deadline 15 September 2021 (tbc). These fellowships provide a substantial salary as well as a research support allocation managed by the host institution.

The consortium members, University of Leeds, Uppsala University, Lulea Technical University, ETH Zurich and Imperial College London,  have considerable experience of hosting and developing the types of fellowships providing an open and innovative environment for the Fellows to develop. The consortium have considerable EU experience through both large scale programmes (, mentoring EU fellows and a number of MSCA ITNs (now called doctoral networks) and would welcome discussions developing EU postdoctoral fellowship proposals. If you have any students who may be considering a postdoctoral research position and might be interested in med-tech/biomechanics then perhaps we can chat about this.  These fellowships are useful for answering research questions that both the beneficiary and the researcher are interested in.

When will the infringements of people’s rights to dignity end?

Prof Chloe Orkin key UK HIV researcher, activist and consultant says on her twitter feed ‘How totally SHAMEFUL and hideous that this government chose to hold a public consultation before legislating to ban the INDEFENSIBLE practice of conversion therapy’.

Following the Queens Speech laying out the year ahead, many groups are elated and relieved to hear an end to conversion therapy attempts to change someones sexual orientation or gender identity in England and Wales. However many campaigners are frustrated that this is not an immediate blanket interdiction on this abusive and damaging practice, instead the ban on conversion therapy will be preceded by a public consultation.

10,000 and counting – Congratulations to the ERC for reaching this impressive milestone!

The European Research Council has just awarded its 10,000th grant!  The award was an Consolidator Grant provided to Professor Inga Berre of the University of Bergen – congratulations! Not sure it is a milestone under the definition provided by the online manual for Horizon Europe, but BioTrib is not going to allow this to stop celebrating another EU Horizon success – champers out folks! To celebrate this fantastic achievement the ERC had a celebration attended by Senior EU dignitaries as well previous award winners outlining the support and subsequent impact such an award had on their careers and the wider community.



European Diversity Month

May is the month to be in within Europe, as it celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in our workplaces and in the society throughout the whole European Union through European Diversity Month

Let’s all take a bolder stand for diversity and act about it. Let’s show our commitment to equality and this May 2021 celebrate the European Diversity Month together. With more diverse workplaces, we will create a fairer and more equal Europe for all.

Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality

There is a launch event on Tuesday, 4 May 10:00-12:00 CEST, which can be accessed following registration on the above website. You will be able to view a recording of the high-level launch here.

BioTrib/University of Leeds MSCA ESR/IF careers meeting – 26th April 2021.

BioTrib and the RIS EU office joined forces at the University of Leeds to deliver a careers orientated event for all MSCA Early Stage Researchers and Individual Fellows who are employed at the University.

The event comprised a panel session where 4 ESR and IF alumni provided an overview of their careers and provided advice to current MSCA sponsored researchers at the University of Leeds. The panel comprised:

  • Jayakrishnan Chandrappan, Head of Packaging, CSA Catapult, UK (MSCA IF Alumni),
  • Brandon Charleston, Head of Volunteering, Raleigh International (Leeds PhD Alumni),
  • Cecilia Persson, Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Materials Science, Uppsala University, Sweden (MSCA ITN Alumni),
  • Anna Plotnikova, Assistant Professor of Strategic Change at VU University Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics, The Netherlands (MSCA ITN Alumni).

The panellists discussed the role of internationalisation in their career progression and the importance that provides through the demonstration of the attributes of an independent researcher, networking across national boundaries and being exposed to different cultures and research ideas.

The meeting also comprised speakers from the University involved in delivering opportunities for ESRs and IFs.  This included the RIS EU Office, The International Office, the Careers Service and the Organisational and Personal Development Unit.

Please note – the video recordings and slides will also be made available on our MSCA Microsoft TEAMS group so you can consult them as resources for future use!

I. Career opportunities & exploration sessions


Part 1: Welcome, Agenda and Introduction (video recording)
Prof Richard M Hall


Part 2: The Careers Centre. – what support is available at Leeds for PGRs (PhD Students)

Steve Carter, Career service


Part 3: Horizon Europe Opportunities​for MSCA Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) and Individual Fellows (IFs)

Ben Williams, EU Team, RIS


Part 4: International Funding Opportunities for ESRs/IFs​
Hongsen Peng​, Global Research Development Team​, RIS


Part 5: How to use LinkedIn as a Careers Research Tool (no slides – live demonstration during the event)
Ruth Winden, Careers consultant, Organisational Development and Professional Learning (ODPL)  


II.  Panel Session – Perspectives of successful PhD/ITN and IF Alumni + Q&A (Chaired by Prof Richard M Hall)


Part 6: Introduction to the Alumni Panel session, Prof Richard M Hall & Presentation from Dr Anna Plotnikova 

Dr Anna Plotnikova, Assistant Professor of Strategic Change at VU University Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics, The Netherlands. (Marie Curie Alumnae (2016-2020) from the ITN project COINS, Leeds University Business School.)


Part 7: Presentation from Dr Jayakrishnan Chandrappan 

Dr Jayakrishnan Chandrappan, Head of Packaging, CSA Catapult, UK
Marie Curie Alumnus (2016-2017), MIRIPSHE project, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Chemical and Process Engineering.


Part 8: Presentation from Dr Brandon Charleston

Dr Brandon Charleston, Head of Volunteering, Raleigh International, UK. (Leeds PhD Alumnus, Leeds University Business School).


Part 9: Presentation from Dr Cecilia Persson

Dr Cecilia Persson, Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Materials Science, Uppsala University, Sweden.
(Marie Curie Alumnae (2006-2009), from the ITN project Spine FX, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Mechanical Engineering.)


Part 10: Alumni Panel – Q&A (All panellists)


Is it a bird? Yes it is a peregrine!

Leeds doesn’t have a cathedral but nearby Wakefield Cathedral has a funky visitor, which gets attention from over 100,000 fans in 57 countries! A pair of peregrine falcons are currently nesting on top of the cathedral tower and they have their own personal webcam. Therapeutic viewing after a long day contemplating life, the Universe and BioTrib.

Stop Press – 24 hours later:  Judith tells me there are also Peregrines located on the Parkinson Tower at the University of Leeds.

Research – Inspiring paper from the Leeds-Imperial Group on the Fabrication of Cartilage-Inspired Hydrogel Entangled Polymer–Elastomer Structures.

Significant paper developing and modelling hydrogels with a goal of more closely representing those of cartilage. The material shows a similar equilibrium compressive modulus to that observed in cartilage and allows for both rehydration and poroelastic lubrication mechanisms. BioTrib looks forward to seeing further work from this partnership of leading tribological and modelling groups.

Abstract Image

Figure – Reprinted with permission from: Fabrication of Cartilage-Inspired Hydrogel/Entangled Polymer–Elastomer Structures Possessing Poro-Elastic Properties, Siavash Soltanahmadi, Nicholas Raske, Gregory N. de Boer, et al.  ACS Applied Polymer Materials, Copyright 2021 American Chemical Society


Training – What skills does a PhD student need for a successful career outside academia?

Melina Papalampropoulou-Tsiridou has recently written an interesting blog on the PLOS ECR community pages which poses the following question:

PhD training in the 21st century: is there something missing?

This is a difficult question with the myriad of skills required in differing jobs across the STEM sector, from a science policy adviser to a postdoctoral researcher in a laboratory at a prestigious global University.  Indeed some of the skills required of a PhD student in industry may be become less important than they were in actually doing the PhD, whilst others will come to the fore once in paid employment post PhD.  An example, may be the focus on the idea of being an independent researcher, a student pursuing their own research goals, sometimes linked to other projects as in ETNs, sometimes not.  However, in industry, or even in EU funded large scale projects such as LifeLongJoints, the research is often completed in teams with groups of people explicitly working towards a common goal.  In it is not to say that PhDs are not highly prized, they are! Employers seek researchers with skills in critical analysis, a greater degree of objectivity and adept at generating new ideas. It is to be remembered that most PhDs will end up outside the academic sector.  In a recent BioTrib meeting with industry on supervisory training it was suggested that PhD candidates lack Project Management and other organisational skills when entering industry, but that the core creativity was highly valued. Melina provides similar examples around Networking and Management skills which appears to reflect a wider observation.  In BioTrib the Early Stage Researchers will undertake some Research Management training including Project Management, Ethics and aspects of Regulation. However, more can be done to make this more effective and embed this within European Research (Training) Programmes without impacting on the valuable core research that these ESRs do whilst undertaking a PhD.

If you want to outline what skills you think are missing in a PhD programme, please contact us here at BioTrib.

Armageddon… not quite but why don’t they stick scales on their photos!

Exciting news reported in the local papers in Gloucestershire as well as news nationally in the UK this week, as small meteorite hit the UK. First signs were a bright, extended meteor track shot on various door bell and security cameras, with a subsequent find by a bemused family on their driveway.  The family then alerted the experts (don’t tell Gove) who now reliably tell us it contains material from the beginning of the solar system.  Indeed one could argue that the material was probably from the Big Bang in one form or another, but that discussion is for another day.  But BBC and other media providers, please put a scale bar on your pics when there is no natural reference.  The meteorite itself could be any size and the picture of the drive could easily be of a coating on a metals surface of the order of a few microns or less or a stony desert!  Admittedly, if the latter were true the resulting impact would bring out more than a few avid meteorite hunters.

May this be a lesson for budding coating engineers – you don’t want your rather novel coating that is about to revolutionise joint replacement to be mistaken for a meteorite impact!

Diversity – A Bullingdon in reverse: how working-class student club is taking on elitism

Elitism alive and well in British Universities reports the Guardian. You wouldn’t really believe this is 2021 – more like Victorian England. We, as a community, need all our citizens to play an active and crucial role in determining goals, aspirations and sharing of the spoils.  This sort of activity leads to the exclusion of potential and fails to bring the most capable person to the fore.

Health – COVID fightback: the critical role of HIV experts

An article in the Guardian highlights the critical skills needed to identify, treat and limit the impact of new diseases.  It is important these and other skills are retained as the global community moves forward in what may become a continuous battle for health security. The broader inputs from behavioural scientists and other stakeholders/participants in the social science field are equally important in our fight against current and emerging disease states as interventions depend on the public perception of risk and how this plays out in the community. This crucial piece of the jigsaw became apparent in the early stages of the HIV pandemic in the 80s and 90s.


Current Preclinical Testing of New Hip Arthroplasty Technologies Does Not Reflect Real-World Loadings

Great paper from my colleagues on the LifeLongJoints project (… Enhancing the data required for effective testing in total hip replacements…

Concluding the authors note

There is a case that implant industry could be more demanding in its requirements for preclinical testing before introducing a new implant to market and further work is obviously needed to explore the consequences of the altered loading patterns on wear and ultimately the success or otherwise of a hip arthroplasty.

Creative Commons License 4.0


BioTrib Kick-off meeting 15th January 2021

The kick off meeting of BioTrib took place on-line on 15th January 2021. The meeting involved representatives from the Beneficiaries as well as a number of representatives of the partner organisations.

The following outlines the agenda items for the KO meeting:

09:45-10:00 Arrival and virtual coffee Breakout Rooms
10:00-10.05 Welcome RMH
10:05-10.20 Overview of the BioTrib ITN RMH
10:20-10:30 Introductions ALL
10:30-11.20 Presentations by Beneficiaries (10 mins each):
Role in project;  Scientific, Training & Management.
Expected dissemination and exploitation.
RWH – Imperial, SJF – ETHZ, NE – LTU, KCP – UU, MB – LEEDS
11:20-12:00 Presentations by Partner Organisations (3 mins each) Role in project POs in attendance
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-13:30 ITN Management
Obligations under the GA/CA/PA·
Management Structure:

  • Committees
  • Project Officer
  • Links to REA/EU

IP and Dissemination

13:30-14:00 Training including Network Wide Events and Secondments RWH
14:00-14:15 Break (Partner Organisations may leave at this stage)
14:15-14:30 ESR recruitment – updates EM
14:30-15:00 Project Reporting, Obligations in GA, Use of reporting tools, Finance KD
15:00-15.30 Project implementation and COVID RMH
15:30-15:45 Break
15:45-16:15 Deliverables; Scientific & Management/Implementation RMH
16.15-17.00 Roundtable on implementation in year 1: Challenges, Risks and Solutions? Chair – SJF
17:00 Closing Remarks RMH
17:15-18:00 Virtual Reception