Background information

The RESCUE project

The EC H2020 Marie S. Curie COFUND RESCUE project is an international PhD programme on regenerative medicine coordinated by the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU). Together with University Utrecht (UU) it offers a unique opportunity to excellent PhD candidates (early stage researchers, ESRs) to access 29 high level fellowships for a doctorate program within the Regenerative Medicine Centre Utrecht.

RESCUE provides an inspiring, multidisciplinary and translational education programme in the area of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells. This programme aims to enhance the potential and future career perspectives of researchers by providing a global training network including over 50 excellent academic and industrial partner organisations. Thereby, shaping a new generation of research experts, empowering them to take leading positions in the field of regenerative medicine world-wide.

All fellows will join the Regenerative Medicine PhD Programme within Utrecht’s Graduate School of Life Sciences. This interdisciplinary and cross-faculty RM programme is organized by Utrecht University, together with the University Medical Center Utrecht and Hubrecht Institute. Regenerative Medicine is a dynamic field that brings together fundamental and clinical scientists from many disciplines with the aim of developing novel therapeutic strategies for a wide variety of diseases. The Graduate School of Life Sciences offers access to a variety of post-graduate courses from introductory levels to academic writing.

RESCUE is the acronym for ‘local training network on REgenerative medicine and Stem Cell technology in UtrEcht’. Within the UMCU, nine of its ten divisions will host ESRs and within the UU two faculties will host ESRs: Faculty of Science (department Pharmaceutical Sciences) and the Veterinary Medicine Faculty. RESCUE trains and educates PhD students in three main research pillars: I. Stem Cell & Organoid Biology, II. Cardiovascular Regeneration, III. Musculoskeletal Regeneration, with an overarching pillar on Ethics.

The RESCUE project is co-funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND doctorate programme scheme. Specific and strict eligibility requirements with regards to mobility, career stage and the English language apply for all candidates.


The project is coordinated by the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU), in cooperation with Utrecht University (UU). The PhD’s will be employed by the UMCU or the UU.


University Medical Center Utrecht strives to achieve the highest levels in, patient care, scientific research and education. By dedicating ourselves to continuous improvements, we can pioneer cutting-edge treatments, foster ground breaking findings, and deliver a standard of care that meets the healthcare needs for today, and the future. With more than 12,000 employees, UMC Utrecht is one of the largest public healthcare institutions in the Netherlands and the biggest employer in the region.

In the UMC Utrecht research is concentrated in six programmes with each a limited number of disease targets. Patient care is integrated in these programs. A relentless multidisciplinary approach guarantees patients benefit from the latest available expertise and innovative technological solutions. RESCUE is embedded in the Regenerative medicine & stem cells strategic program.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, colleagues from various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Sustainability, Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, and Life Sciences. Utrecht University has been ranked in the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities as the best university in the Netherlands, and as one of the leading research universities in Europe.

The Faculty of Science consists of six Departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 5,600 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty's academic programmes reflect developments in today's society.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has a unique position in the Netherlands. Not only is this the only institution where veterinarians are trained, researchers are also working together on innovative scientific research. In addition, the faculty provides specialist clinical care in the largest academic veterinary hospital in Europe. Thanks to this position, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a point of contact for all veterinary matters, both nationally and increasingly internationally. The faculty employs approximately 900 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and counts 1,500 students.


Research at the Hubrecht Institute is pioneering in developmental and stem cell biology. The institute encompasses 20 research groups that perform fundamental, multidisciplinary research on healthy and diseased cells, tissues and organisms.

The Hubrecht Institute is a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), situated on the Utrecht Science Park ‘De Uithof’. Since 2008, the Hubrecht is affiliated with the UMC Utrecht. This allowed the institute to grow into an internationally renowned research institute and facilitated the link with (pre)clinical research. The Hubrecht Institute has a partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) based on shared institutional goals, scientific synergy and complementarity.



Utrecht, in the centre of the Netherlands, is known for its world-class universities and research institutes, its competitiveness and the most highly-educated workforce in the Netherlands. Utrecht offers an attractive living environment with a lively and beautiful old city centre, cultural life, all kinds of modern facilities, recreational opportunities and a strong bicycle culture. The city borders the ‘green heart’ of the Netherlands. Utrecht is very well accessible from abroad. Traveling from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Utrecht takes about 30 minutes by train. Facilities for sports and childcare are available on our campus, which is only fifteen minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht. Practical information for (prospective) international staff and guests can be found on the ‘International Staff & Guests’ page.

Utrecht Science Park ‘De Uithof’ (USP), which provides a home base for Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, HU Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and various small and large companies. USP is a vibrant and exciting place to study and work. Life Sciences and Health is one of the main themes of research and education. Utrecht Life Sciences is a platform that supports collaboration and innovation.


HR excellence in research seal by the EC

Utrecht University has been acknowledged by the European Commission as an institution having achieved ‘HR Excellence in Research’. Utrecht University aims to attract talented researchers both from the Netherlands and abroad. The organisation encourages researchers in their further career development, supported by an effective HR policy.

RESCUE offers a dedicated joint research programme in regenerative medicine and stem cell biology. Specialist training is obtained through cutting-edge research projects, attending specialist training schools and other networking activities. This fosters close interaction with academic, clinical and entrepreneurial experts and provides a uniquely broad and inspiring palette of experiences to RESCUE’s ESRs. This is complemented with training of generic research and transferable skills. The UMCU and UU Principle Investigators (PIs) in RESCUE are internationally established top scientists in the multiple fields related to RMSC.

RESCUE offers the ESRs access to all the necessary facilities, equipment and infrastructure to carry out their research training. This is ensured by the fact that RESCUE’s PIs are embedded in the Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht (RMCU) at the Utrecht Science Park, and have access to several facilities, such as: biofabrication, cell therapy, proteomics, gene editing, (large) animal research facilities, the Julius Centre for research and trials support, and many more other services. All ESRs will be located at the RMCU.


In RESCUE, each recruited researcher will be seconded to two or more Partner Organisations for a duration of several weeks/months with a minimum of three months. During the secondments, the researchers will keep their UMCU or UU contract, while the travel and subsistence expenses are paid for. During their secondment, researchers receive supervision and training at the premises of the receiving organisation. Secondments are differentiated from short visits, i.e. of a few days and are mandatory. If you apply for one of the positions (max. 2) you accept that you will be seconded to other organisations during your contract.

Explanation of Marie S. Curie salaries in the Netherlands

- The net salary (that you receive in your bank account) is dependent on multiple conditions, including taxes and pension. Normal Dutch PhD candidate salaries are higher compared to other countries, presumably the gross Marie S. Curie allowance is already met. A financial project controller from your organisation will check if the total (gross) remuneration costs (salaries, social security conditions, taxes and other costs included in the remuneration) is equal or higher than 2597 EUR per month average at multiple points of your project.-

A Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant is always paid by the European Commission/Research Executive Agency to a host organisation. The host organisation in turn has to make sure that the fellowship benefits the fellow. In order to make sure that a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow has the same rights and duties and the same access to social security as other employees in the country where the fellow works, the EC decided that national regulations apply to all fellows. The fellowship that the host institution receives from the EC is a gross amount, meant to pay the researcher and to pay for other costs directly related to the employment of the researcher.

In the Netherlands your employer will have to pay the compulsory employers’ contributions and you are obliged to pay income tax. Your employer will withhold the relevant amount for both employers’ contributions and income tax from your salary and transfer it to the tax authorities. The Netherlands has a progressive tax system, which means the amount of income tax deducted from your salary depends on how much you earn. The amount can vary between 36,55% and 52% of your gross salary (2016 rates), depending on the level of your income.

Furthermore, because of tax and social security treaties and legal ties to your country of origin, tax and social security contributions might be different compared to other Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellows.

Tax in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, researchers on a Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA) fellowship typically have an employment contract with their host organisation rather than a fellowship.

The living allowance is liable to the same social security reductions and taxation that applies to the salary of other employed workers in the Netherlands. Employers in the Netherlands are obliged to pay their employees according to the rules set in a collective national labour agreement. Since in the Netherlands PhDs (in Dutch: OiO’s, AiO’s or promovendi) are hired as employees, their monthly salary is determined as well in such an agreement. Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellows at universities in the Netherlands are almost always hired as employees and therefore the collective labour agreement also applies to them. Thus they must be treated the same as other employees. Also, when split up in monthly salaries, the MSCA fellowship amounts to roughly the same as a Dutch PhD salary (including all costs of taxation and social deductions), contrary to some other European countries where the local wage of a PhD student can be much lower than the amount of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship. The Dutch employer is obliged to pay at least the salary required by the collective labour agreement. Therefore the host institution has to pay the difference between this legally required salary and the gross MSCA living allowance, if the legally required salary is lower than the gross allowance received from the MSCA fellowship.

Since the legally required salary for PhD students in the Netherlands is in the first year lower than the amount of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie living allowance, but higher in the following years, the host university may compensate this yearly in the salaries. So over the 4 years, the total of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship has been paid to the researcher.

The Dutch Marie S. Curie National Contact Point have issued an FAQ Finances and Marie Curie allowances in H2020 in the Netherlands. For MSCA COFUND some issues are different (in RESCUE there is four years of EC co-funding and the allowances are different), but a lot of the regulations are the same (taxes etc.).

Other information

The EURAXESS website may provide useful information and support (e.g., visa). More information about Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions.

The site New to Holland will guide you to the government organizations you may have to deal with.

The Expat Center of the city of Utrecht

The Network Healthcare for Internationals (h4i)

Getting here & around (UU site)

Visit the Utrecht area

Utrecht by public transport

Renting a bike (swapfiets)

Student/Staff Housing (SSH)



On all information on this site and given by project members the EC RESCUE Grant Agreement no. 801540 applies.