Therapeutic strategies for huntington's disease

REF: PD 19
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Hours of work:
37.5 hours per week
Annual leave:
24 days per annum plus statutory days
C/ Villarroel 170, 08036 BARCELONA
Accountable to:
Professor Dr. Jordi Alberch
Up to 3 years, by IDIBAPS
38.000 € plus housing facilities


Job Summary

A postdoctoral position is available in Professor Jordi Alberch’s laboratory. The position involves working with a team of scientists studying therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders, particularly for motor disorders affecting the basal ganglia.

The programme is a continuation of results recently published in Canals et al., 2004, J.Neurosci., 24:7727-39; del Toro et al., 2006, J. Neurosci., 26:12748-57; Paoletti et al, 2008, J.Neurosci 28:10090-101; del Toro et al., 2009, Mol Biol Cell., 20:1478-92; Xifró et al, 2009, Neurobiol Dis, 36:461-9; Giralt et al., 2010, Gene Ther; Gines et al., 2010, J Biol Chem. 285:21537-48; Saavedra et al., 2010, Cell Death Differ 7:324-35, which have underscored that (1) BDNF is an important factor involved in Huntington’s disease (HD) pathology and represents a good candidate to design rational neuroprotective therapies for HD treatment and (2) that and imbalance between kinase and phosphatase activities could contribute to striatal and hippocampal pathology in HD.

The present project will be performed in the laboratory of Pathophysiology of Neurodegenerative disorders at the Department of Cell Biology, Immunology and Neurosciences at the Medical School, University of Barcelona. This multidisciplinary group is leaded by Dr Jordi Alberch, Professor, with more than 20 years of experience in the study of the regulation of trophic factors expression and their neuroprotective effects in different experimental models of neurodegenerative diseases of the basal ganglia. Our main goal is to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the selective neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration distinctive of Huntington´s Disease. Progress in understanding these cellular processes are relevant to develop therapeutic interventions for neurodegenerative disorders. Our investigations combine biochemical, genetics, cellular and molecular biology techniques

Main research lines

  1. To analyze intracellular signalling pathways activated in neurodegenerative and neuroprotective processes in HD to identify new pharmacological targets by using in vitro and in vivo models
  2. To study the mechanisms involved in the differentiation of stem cells to striatal GABAergic neurons by identification of genetic and/or epigenetic factors

The group is integrated in the Spanish network of neurodegenerative disorders (CIBERNED) and in the Spanish Cell Therapy network (RETICS; TERCEL). These two networks provide a collaborative environment to successfully achieve our objectives.

The purpose of this program will be:

  1. Looking for new strategies for BDNF delivery ex vivo by genetic manipulation of stem cells for clinical purposes
  2. Search and test small molecules that activate the BDNF receptor in vitro and in vivo.
  3. To study intracellular signals differently regulated in HD pathology to identify new pharmacological targets for its treatment

The project is likely to involve some or all of the following techniques:

  • Biocomputering
  • Drug design
  • Molecular techniques, cloning, lentiviral constructs, transfection, arrays…
  • Human stem cell cultures
  • In vitro studies
  • Biochemistry: western blots, ELISA
  • In vivo administration of cells and drugs
  • Behavioral analyses, motor and cognitive
  • Histology

Main Duties

To conduct research to determine the potential of different neuroprotective strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.

Duties and Responsabilities

  • To contribute to the design and planning of experiments in relation to this project
  • To develop a thorough understanding of the research field and be involved in the intellectual decisions required for successful completion of the project
  • To set up and run experiments in coordination with the Principal Investigator
  • To record, analyse and write up the results of experiments and ensure that laboratory notebooks are kept fully up to date as a formal record of the research
  • To prepare and present research findings to the Principal Investigator and other members of the centre
  • To prepare progress reports on research
  • The post holder may be required to perform some limited teaching and/or supervision of other members of staff and/or students, under the guidance of the Principal Investigator
  • Responsible for ensuring that designated equipment is safe and maintained in good working order
  • As duties and responsibilities change, the job description will be reviewed and amended in consultation with the post holder
  • The post holder will carry out any other duties that are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job, as requested by the Principal Investigator.
  • Progress in understanding the cellular processes regulating gene expression changes in cognition is relevant to develop therapeutic interventions for age-related cognitive disorders. Our investigations combine genetics, transcriptomics

Knowledge and Qualifications

  1. Undergraduate degree in a life science discipline.
  2. PhD in an appropriate life science discipline.
  3. Accredited knowledge and skills in Neurosciences/Cellular Biology/Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
  4. Proficiency in English language.
  1. Research stay outside the country of residence.
  2. Publications in high impact factor peer reviewed journals.
  3. Research skills in Molecular techniques (cloning, lentiviral constructs, transfection), Biochemistry (Western blot, ELISA), immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry.
  4. Knowledge and skills in stem cells and neurodevelopment



It is expected a thorough background on Neurosciences. In addition, it will be important to show ability to develop ideas logically and design experiments to test hypotheses, ability to modify and apply new methods to advance a project, and to analyse and write up data for presentations and publications.p>

The post-doc should have a personal resume showing ability to present complex information to a range of audiences<()p>


Ability to direct junior members of the laboratory in simple laboratory procedures.

Experience and Personal Qualities

Experience of working in a research environment and commitment to high quality research.

Experience in multi-disciplinary working and clear interest in working as part of the team. All the members of the team will collaborate in this research project.

Ability to work independently and to use own initiative when required.

(Read eligibility criteria)