SymbNET PhD Project Award

The SymbNET PhD Project Award funds the best collaborative research project in the context of SymbNET.

This award aims to promote collaborative research in Host-Microbe Symbiosis, Genomics, Metabolomics and Proteomics between partner institutions.

All PhD students from SymbNET [FCG-IGC (Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal), EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany),  CAU (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany),  UNIL (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland), and ITQB NOVA (Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Portugal)] are eligible to apply.

Check here the research groups and services involved in SymbNET. However, all PhD students from these institutions are eligible to apply, and collaborations may involve research groups or services from SymbNET institutions not listed on this webpage.

There will be three editions of this prize, awarding 4,000 € each. SymbNET will additionally cover a research visit of one month (travel and accommodation included) for the completion of the selected project.



All calls for this funding are closed!

1st) 30 Apr – 30 Sep 2021

2nd) 15 Jan – 15 Apr 2022

3rd) 01 Sep – 31 Oct 2022



1st Call: Maria Virginia Ramirez Montoya (FCG-IGC) More info

2nd Call: Elisabete Morais (ITQB NOVA) More info

3rd Call: Ana Figueiredo (FCG-IGC) More info




1. Eligible researchers must be affiliated with and pursue their doctoral studies in one of the SymbNET participating institutions (FCG-IGC, CAU, UNIL, ITQB, EMBL).

2. The project must be developed by the PhD student and include the use of Genomics, Metabolomics or Proteomics in host-microbe symbiosis.

The collaboration should involve FCG-IGC or ITQB NOVA and a SymbNET partner institution (CAU, UNIL, or EMBL). i.e.: students from FCG-IGC or ITQB NOVA can apply to collaborate with CAU, UNIL and EMBL and students from  CAU, UNIL and EMBL can apply to collaborate with FCG-IGC or ITQB NOVA.

3. Researchers that receive the award once are not eligible to apply a second time.

4. The funds provided must be used on research expenses that are essential for project completion. Funds can be used by the awardees to buy consumables and internal services. Any other costs (i.e.: indirect costs) are not eligible.

5. Additional funds are available for a secondment with the partner institution. Travel and lodging expenses up to a month for the PhD student will be covered.

6. SymbNET must be acknowledged in publications/communications that may arise from research funded by this award by including the following text: “This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 952537  (SymbNET Genomics and Metabolomics in a Host-Microbe Symbiosis Network)”.

7. Publications that arise from work funded by this prize must follow the open access procedures described in article 29 of the Grant Agreement. More information: SymbNET PhD Project Award Regulation.

8. Projects to be developed must comply with the relevant ethical and legal provisions described in article 34 and Section 5 of the Grant Agreement. More Information: SymbNET PhD Project Award Regulation.

9. For the 3rd call, the awardee should use all funds within 10 months counting from the moment the award is communicated to the winner.

10. The awardees must provide an activity report including a data management plan and expenses description up to one month after completion of the project.



1. There will be 3 calls for proposal submissions:

30 Apr – 30 Sep 2021; 15 Jan – 15 Apr 2022; 01 Sep – 31 Oct 2022

2. Applications should be submitted here.

3. The entrants must provide the following items:

a) Name and affiliation.

b) Project title and the state of the art of their field of interest and the question(s) to address in their proposal (maximum of 3.000 characters, including spaces).

c) Summary of the experiments they want to perform using the prize money and how it will help them to answer their scientific questions (maximum of 3.000 characters, including spaces).

d) Budget indicating how the prize will be spent and if a secondment is required.

e) Two letters, one from the PhD supervisor and the other from the collaborative Group Leader / Head of Facility, confirming their support for the application and compliance with Ethics regulations. These letters should state the following:

” I [Name of PI/Collaborator] support the application of [Name of applicant] to the SymbNET PhD Prize. The research to be developed at [Name of Institute] within the scope of the SymbNET PhD Prize complies with all national and European ethical and safety rules. The Laboratory / Facility where the project will be developed follows all national and European ethical and safety rules, and all licenses required for experimentation have been acquired. [date] and [signature]”

This statement must be filled, even if the project does not raise ethical questions or licenses are required.

4. Eligibility requirements will be verified by the SymbNET task leader (Luís Valente, FCG-IGC) and contributors (Thomas Bosch, CAU; Philipp Engel, UNIL; Nassos Typas, EMBL) with the support from the project manager (Mariana Simões, FCG-IGC).

5. Proposals will be evaluated by a pool of 10 PhD students (reviewers), 2 from each  SymbNET participating institution. This pool of students will be nominated every year by the spokesperson from the different SymbNET partner Institutions.

6. Reviewers that work on research groups or services involved in any applications in that edition will be excluded from the evaluation process.

7. Reviewers will be asked if they have any conflict of interest (COI)*. Those who declare such COI will be excluded from the evaluation process.

8. Each reviewer will provide a priority list with what they consider to be the 3 best applications.

9. Selection will be based on:

a) The relevance of the question being addressed (is the proposal addressing an important topic in the scientific areas represented in SymbNET?)

b) The scientific strength of the proposal (are the experiments proposed well designed and able to address the scientific question?)

c) The feasibility of the proposal (are the experiments possible to do within 1 year? Are the experiments possible to complete with the prize money?)

d) The added value of the collaborative project to the PhD research

10. The 3 applications that are more frequently nominated by the reviewers are sent to an independent committee, who will select the winner.  This committee comprises two members of the Advisory Board: Nancy Moran (University of Texas at Austin, US), and Eduardo Rocha (Institut Pasteur, France). If it is not possible to distinguish a top three due to an identical number of votes from the PhD review panel, all applications that are tied in one of the top three positions are sent to the advisory board, who will select a winner.

11. The selected projects will be announced in October 2021 (1st call), May 2022 (2nd call) and November/December 2022 (3rd call).


* Conflict of interest (Selection committee)

The following conflict of interests must be declared and prevent from being part of the selection committee:

– Having a personal relationship with the candidate or with his/her supervisor or collaborator;

– Having a significant past or ongoing academic relationship with the candidate; this includes having jointly published a research paper in the last five years;

– Having a current or planned close scientific collaboration with the candidate;

– Having commercial/financial interests in relation to the candidate/proposal;

– Having been involved in the preparation of the proposal;

– Benefitting directly or indirectly from the acceptance or rejection of the proposal/candidate;

– Being in any other situation that could cast doubt on the evaluator’s ability to evaluate the proposal impartially, or that could reasonably appear to do so in the eyes of an external third party.

(COI based on the policies implemented by the European Molecular Biology Organization)

Updated on 23 january 2024