IMDEA Materials Institute is seeking a research associate at the postdoctoral level for a fast-paced project, funded by the Horizon Europe Pathfinder program, to develop smart 4D implants for dynamic tissue restoration, in particular focusing on the in vitro characterization of the developed materials and devices


Ref. num. 2024-JP-R2-152

Postdoctoral Research Associate for Project on Smart 4D Biodegradable Metallic Shape-shifting Implants for Dynamic Tissue Restoration

IMDEA Materials Institute is a public research organization founded in 2007 by Madrid’s regional government to carry out research of excellence in Material Science and Engineering by attracting talent from all over the world to work in an international and multidisciplinary environment. IMDEA Materials has grown rapidly since its foundation and currently includes more than 120 researchers from 22 nationalities and has become one of the leading research centers in materials in Europe which has received the María de Maeztu seal of excellence from the Spanish government. The research activities have been focused on the areas of materials for transport, energy, and health care and the Institute has state-of-the-art facilities for processing, characterization and simulation of advanced materials.

More information can be found at our webpage.


Project Background: Reconstructive surgeries frequently require multiple, often complex, procedures at high social and economic costs. A shape-morphing implant that can be implanted using less invasive procedures and that then undergoes predesigned shape changes, leading to tissue expansion and allowing for complete degradation coupled with tissue regeneration, is a radically new treatment concept. BIOMET4D aims to create a new generation of shape-shifting and load-bearing implants for dynamic tissue restoration and to introduce a revolutionary paradigm in how actuators can be implemented in biomedicine. Science-towards-technology breakthroughs will be demonstrated with new shape-morphing metamaterials, 4D smart metallic actuators, advanced multi-domain optimization tools, and finally proof-of-concept for two potential clinical applications. Technologically, this vision also goes beyond existing paradigms because of the step-by-step actuation mechanisms, enabled through the additive manufacturing of multi-material degradable metallic structures, that are targeted for an order of magnitude improvement compared to the state-of-the-art. A futuristic long-term vision of this breakthrough technology is to dynamically regenerate entire tissues, and proof-of-concept will be demonstrated for craniosynostosis treatment and skin expansion. This long-term vision can only be achieved through an interdisciplinary approach and will likely have high social and economic impact as well as provide a new line of research for applications of smart metamaterials in medicine and engineering.

Project Tasks: The selected candidate will carry out research tasks that are planned as part of the project, working within a small team at IMDEA Materials Institute and within a larger European consortium. The candidate will focus on the in vitro characterization of the developed materials and devices, following standards such as ISO 10993 and also using tissue-specific cells. The candidate will also help to advance one or more additional areas of the project, such as characterization of the degradation of the materials, in situ characterization of the devices, or bioreactor development for ex vivo skin expansion, and to liaison with the collaborators performing in vivo studies. The candidate will also be expected to be actively involved in communication and dissemination activities associated to the project, including a strong emphasis on Open Science, as well as in the preparation of reports to the funding agency.

Project Team: The selected candidate will be integrated in a team at IMDEA Materials Institute dedicated to this project, which is supervised by Dr. Jennifer Patterson (Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Group) and is a collaboration with Dr. Jon Molina (Micromechanics and Nanomechanics Group) and Dr. Javier LLorca (Bio/Chemo/Mechanics of Materials). The project is a collaboration with 6 other institutions in Spain, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland.


The candidate should minimally have a B.S. in Materials Science/Materials Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Biomedical Sciences, or a related field, with strong academic credentials. Candidates at the post-doctoral level are also encourage to apply.

A high level of English (both oral and written) is mandatory. No knowledge of Spanish is required, although free lessons in both English and Spanish are provided.

The candidate should have experience from their previous research in at least one of the following areas: 4D printing or additive manufacturing of shape-shifting materials, materials characterization (biodegradation studies, ICP-OES, electron microscopy, mechanical testing, etc.), cell culture (with preference for experience with skin or bone cell culture), or bioreactor design and 3D cell culture.

Interested candidates should submit their Curriculum Vitae (CV) along with a motivation letter and academic records. The motivation letter should describe their research interests and relevant experience (2 pages maximum) and provide complete contact details for 2 reference letter writers.


Screening of candidates will begin immediately, and promising candidates will be invited for an initial interview via Zoom, even before the closing date. The vacancy will remain listed until at least June 30, 2024, or until filled. Therefore, interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to ensure the best consideration of their application.

The expected start date is May 15 through September 30, 2024, depending on the availability of the selected candidate.

The contract will be for a minimum of 3 months and up to 2 years, also depending on the availability of the selected candidate.

Candidates must submit their materials through the IMDEA jobs portal for full consideration.

Applications are processed upon reception. The position might be closed once ten working days have passed since publication, so we encourage early application.

The working language of the Institute is English. Full command of the English language is required in all positions.


Stimulating environment where you can grow professionally.

IMDEA Materials Institute is committed to equal opportunities, diversity and the promotion of a healthy work environment and work-life balance. Female applicants are encouraged to apply to our research and technical positions. See our Gender Equality Plan here and our Code of Ethics here.

Besides on-the-job technical training, IMDEA Materials Institute is committed to training the Institute’s scientists and staff in “soft” or transversal skills. See the available training here.

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