2 July 2018

'This strengthens our international network in a continuous and lasting manner'

Regenerative Medicine launches programme for 29 new researchers

University Medical Center Utrecht and Utrecht University are teaming up to launch a COFUND programme called RESCUE. In February 2019, a group of 29 young researchers will begin a four-year research project at Regenerative Medicine Utrecht (RMU). Recruitment starts today.

RESCUE is being funded through a so-called Horizon 2020 Marie S. Curie COFUND grant, a project of the European Union which aims to stimulate researchers' international mobility. The researchers who come to Utrecht for this project may not have resided in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the last three years. In practice, this means that mostly international researchers will be eligible for the vacancies.

It is very special to have all these different disciplines within regenerative medicine together under one roof

"The long-term objective is to strengthen the international regenerative medicine network in a continuous and lasting manner", says Paul Coffer, Professor of Stem Cell Biology and research coordinator for RESCUE. "Over the next four years, we can build a connection with the future generation of regenerative medicine researchers. We will reap the benefits of this as soon as they complete their Utrecht project, secure a job elsewhere and still know where to find us. We are one of the top centres in Europe when it comes to regenerative medicine, which we can now demonstrate to many new international contacts."

Three faculties

The researchers will work on three different themes within regenerative medicine: stem cells and organoids, cardiovascular regeneration and musculoskeletal regeneration. The majority of the researchers will be given a workspace at the Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht. "Some research projects are fairly basic, while others are very translational", Coffer explains. "Nevertheless, all of the researchers will be working in the same environment, where three faculties – Science, Veterinary Medicine and Medicine –are already represented. It is very special to have all these different disciplines within regenerative medicine together under one roof. If we organise things well, this will create incredible synergy and cross-pollination."

Broad educational programme

The 29 PhD candidates will take part in a broad educational programme alongside their research. RESCUE (the name is derived from REgenerative medicine and Stem Cell technology in Utrecht) is intended as a training programme for young researchers, and Utrecht University and University Medical Center Utrecht take this responsibility seriously, Coffer says. "The reality is that not all PhD candidates will have a scientific career in academia. That is why they will also learn about entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer skills, in addition to receiving training on how to work in a lab and implement these regenerative medicine techniques in clinical practice. All participants in the programme will therefore spend a period of time seconded to an external party, so that they can gain experience outside of Utrecht University as well."