PhD Position: Physicochemical Characterization in Biological Media of Nanomedicines for Gene Therapy by Advanced Light Microscopy
Doctoral research position at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Ghent University
Context of the research project
In biopharmacy and pharmaceutical technology, intensive research is aimed at developing ‘intelligent’ nanoscopic particles that are capable of efficiently delivering drugs to target cells. In the field of gene therapy, special interest goes to nanoparticles containing nucleic acids, such as plasmid DNA and small interference RNA. Such nanoparticles, typically having a size in the order of 100 nm, are created by spontaneous electrostatic complexation of the anionic nucleic acids with cationic carrier materials, such as cationic lipids or polymers. The carrier materials have to fulfil several requirements in order for the nanoparticles to efficiently transfect the target cells. Besides efficiently encapsulating the nucleic acids, they also have to provide protection against degradation during the entire delivery process. Furthermore, the nanoparticles should not aggregate e.g. after intravenous injection. Nor should the nanoparticles release the nucleic acids while being suspended in the blood circulation or when traversing the extracellular space. Release of the nucleic acids should only occur after being internalized in the target cells. Despite the tremendous possibilities for the treatment of many diseases, progress in nucleic acid therapy is very slow. One of the important causes is the lack of suitable methods to study the physicochemical characteristics of nanomedicines in the relevant biological media. By using advanced microscopy methods like fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, single particle tracking and fluorescence nanoscopy, this project aims at obtaining a more fundamental insight into the structure and the biophysical properties of nucleic acid nanoparticles in the biological media in which they end up after administration.
The successful applicant will perform research with respect to the project described above. At the end of this 4 yeardoctoral research position a Ph.D. thesis must be written to obtain the degree of Doctor in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Who can apply
The position is open to highly motivated candidates with a strong interest in interdisciplinary research at the border of several fields: nanotechnology, biopharmaceutics and biophotonics. Eligible candidates must have a master degree (or equivalent) in pharmacy, biotechnology, bioscience engineering or (bio)physics. Also students that will graduate in the academic year 2009-2010 are eligible to apply for the position.
When. The Ph.D
position is open from October 2010.
Further information on the project and the doctoral research position
Contact Prof. Dr. K. Braeckmans (09/264.80.98 – Kevin.Braeckmans@UGent.be), Dr. K. remaut (09/264.80.78 – Katrien.Remaut@UGent.be) or Prof. Dr. S. De Smedt (09/264.80.76 – Stefaan.Desmedt@UGent.be). Additional information about our research group can be found on our website: http://www.biofys.ugent.be
Research at the Biophotonic Imaging Group, Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy.
The PhD project will be carried out at the Biophotonic imaging Group which is hosted by the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy. Biophotonics is currently a very active and promising field of research aimed at making progress in life sciences through novel photonic technologies. By its very nature, biophotonics requires an interdisciplinary symbiosis of photonics and life sciences. In close collaboration with the Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, research at the Biophotonic Imaging Group is therefore focused on developing novel biophotonic imaging methods, as well as their application to pharmaceutical and biomedical problems.
Centre for Nano- and Biophotonics
This PhD project is part of the research lines set forth by the Centre for Nano- and Biophotonics, of which the Biophotonic Imaging Group is a founding partner. The Centre for Nano- and Biophotonics is one of five recently selected ‘Multidisciplinary Research Partnerschips’ of Ghent University. More information on the Centre for Nano- and Biophotonics can be found at:
The PhD project will be carried out in collaboration with the Bio-imaging and Cytometry Unit and the Lab. of Glycobiology of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, see
Both groups are founding partners of the Centre for Nano- and Biophotonics.