ESR 9: PhD scholarship in food allergy and in vivo models to determine the role of allergen sensitisation routes

ESR 9: PhD scholarship in food allergy and in vivo models to determine the role of allergen sensitisation routes

Host organisation: Medical University of Vienna, Department of Dermatology, Experimental Allergy Laboratory, Austria

Recruited education level: Academic, Master's degree

Position: Ph.D. Candidate – MSCA fellow part of MSCA-DN project ALLPreT - No 101072377

Application deadline: 28 November 2022

Planned start date: March-April 2023

Do you want to contribute to developing new tools for predicting the allergenicity of novel foods and alternative food proteins and enabling the production of new and safe food for the future?

If you have knowledge within the area of allergy and immunology as well as experience working with in vivo models and are looking for a PhD fellowship opportunity to put your skills into practise, you have it right here. The Experiment Allergy Laboratory at the Medical University of Vienna is looking to recruit a talented and highly motivated PhD student for one of 10 PhD fellowship positions being part of the ALLPreT project. The ALLPreT project is an international European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral-Network project (ALLPreT - No 101072377)

As part of the ALLPreT project and as our new colleague in the Experiment Allergy Laboratory at MedUni Vienna, you will be part of dynamic and highly ambitious research and innovation environments with many national and international collaborators from both academia and industries.

Project description

Your role will be to:

  • Design and develop in vivo models for studying allergen sensitisation via inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin using known allergenic and non-allergenic foods.
  • Test an array of end-point parameters to evaluate local and systemic immunity after exposure to the allergenic and non-allergenic food proteins.
  • Develop a novel model to determine whether ingesting a novel food can cause a cross-reactive inhalant allergy.
  • Compare findings from in vivo and in vitro models.
  • Investigate implementing models in another lab.

In the project, the student will perform:  animal experiments and analyse disease severity by body hypothermia, ear swelling, symptom scoring, and effector degranulation, as well as analyse specific serum antibody levels, avidity and specificity, immune cell profiles, proliferation, and cytokine levels, using ELISA’s, flow cytometry, and cell-based assays.

Responsibilities and tasks
In this PhD project, you will contribute to developing a toolbox with methods allowing for the prediction of allergenicity of new foods and specifically develop and employ in vivo models to predict the sensitising capacity of novel food proteins. You will be involved in research, innovation, publication, and scientific dissemination, where your primary research tasks will focus on:

  • Designing, developing, standardising and validating in vivo models of food allergy sensitisation
  • Selecting and designing an array of in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo end-point parameters
  • Performing various in vitro and ex vivo allergenicity analysis
  • Design and employ a model to evaluate sensitisation to cross-reactive inhaled and ingested allergens

With the overall aim of determining the sensitisation route of novel foods and food proteins.

Further, it is expected that you will participate in all training, networking, and collaborative tasks offered by the ALLPreT project, which include developing technical and soft skills (organisation of meetings, grant writing, presentation for different audiences, etc.)

External stays, including two secondments are a mandatory part of your new PhD fellowship position, where the Research Group of Food Allergy at the DTU in Denmark (4 months) and the company BiomassProtein Aps (1 month) in Denmark will be the hosting institutions for a total period of five months.


We are looking for a team player with the motivation and drive needed to make a difference that matters. You should have a critical mindset and be curious and eager to learn. As you will join international teams, a good command of written and spoken English is necessary.

Your CV comprises a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Allergology, Immunology, Biomedicine, biomedical sciences or a related field as well as:

  • Solid understanding of immunology and/or food allergy and
  • Solid experience in in vivo models and/or
  • Experience in performing in vitro and/or ex vivo cell-based immune assays, and/or

According to the rules for MSCA doctoral networks, applicants should not have resided or worked in Austria for more than 12 out of the last 36 months.

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Your new team
The Experimental Allergy Laboratory, headed by Michelle Epstein, researches the initiation and perpetuation of allergic responses in the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. They aim to 1) to deepen the understanding of the mechanisms underlying sensitisation with inhaled and ingested allergens and to develop new and 2) improved models to predict why certain foods are allergenic and how sensitisation occurs. We are part of the Medical University of Vienna, where we conduct research in research allergy and immunology.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at MedUni Vienna. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see

We offer
MedUni Vienna is a leading medical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterised by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the MedUni Vienna and the Austrian Government. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The position is a full-time position starting April 1st , 2023 (or according to mutual agreement).

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Michelle Epstein, Medical University of Vienna,

You can read more about MedUni Vienna at

Application procedure uitklapper, klik om te openen

Candidates can apply for a position using the 'apply now' button

Your completed online application must be submitted no later than 28 November, 2022.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please use the apply now button, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English), including an official description of the grading scale

You may apply before obtai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion, or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Information on the ALLPreT project

Introducing novel foods, such as insects, will strongly contribute to the security and stainability of our food supply. However, these novel foods must be safe (EU regulation 2015/2283). Allergenicity assessment is an essential part of the safety assessment of novel foods. Unfortunately, current methods to assess de novo allergenicity lack predictive power and are not validated. Consequently, food producers and risk assessors struggle with allergenicity assessment, slowing the introduction of novel foods into our food supply. Enabling the safe introduction of novel foods while protecting humans from unacceptable food allergy risks calls for a multidisciplinary approach. The ALLPreT consortium is a highly multidisciplinary group of experts from universities, research institutes, hospitals, patient organisations, and industry arising from the EU COST Action ImpARAS (Improved Allergenicity Risk Assessment Strategy). This puts them in an ideal position to consolidate their previous collaboration and establish an innovative doctoral training network in this area. The overall goal of ALLPreT is to train the next generation of scientists who can tackle the shortcomings in the current food allergy assessment of novel food products. ALLPreT will train 10 PhD students in the core aspects of food allergy risk assessment, immunology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics, in vitro/in vivo/in silico model development and complementary “soft” skills to deliver well-educated young scientists, with a unique position within the EU labour market. The PhD students will explore the new field of research on de novo sensitisation by novel foods and develop a toolbox of in vitro/in vivo/in silico allergenicity prediction tools that are scientifically sound, validated, and easily usable by industry and food safety authorities. This toolbox will contribute to fast and accurate safety assessment, thereby speeding up safety approval and market uptake of novel foods. Read more at

The MedUni Vienna (Vienna, Austria)

Research is very important at MedUni Vienna, as are teaching and patient care. The three central tasks for the Medical University of Vienna are "Creating knowledge, imparting knowledge and applying knowledge", after all. The research performance at MedUni Vienna has increased continuously since 2004 and ranks among the best of all medical institutions in Europe. What is remarkable is the excellent performance of the entire staff, which makes available their high creative and intellectual potential for the benefit of society, despite difficult conditions.

Vienna – An Excellent Research Location

The international recognition that the researchers of MedUni Vienna have gained - for centuries, but specifically during the last two decades, is an excellent promotion for Vienna as a research location.

A total of 3000 researchers and physicians currently work at MedUni Vienna, many of whom have an international background. Their research performance directly benefits patients, because MedUni Vienna closely links fundamental research and clinical application.

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