PhD position on the fundamentals of microfluidic lipid nanoparticle formation

University of Twente
February 16, 2024
Offerd Salary:€ 2.770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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You will be part of the highly multidisciplinary consortium NANOSPRESSO-NL (8 M€). We aim to study, develop, and implement a disruptive technology for decentralized and small-scale bedside production of high quality and affordable nucleic acid nanomedicines for the treatment of orphan (rare) diseases. The technology is based on the microfluidic formation of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) that carry nucleic acid therapeutics such as mRNA. The microfluidic formation of LNPs is achieved when a stream of lipids (surfactants) dissolved in ethanol is mixed with water such that the solubility of the lipids decreases below a critical threshold at which the lipids and therapeutics phase separate and self-assemble into LNPs (~100 nm diameter). This is very similar but much more complex to a famous fluid dynamical problem: The Ouzo (Greek alcoholic drink) effect where nano- and microdroplets of oil nucleate when the Ouzo is diluted with water. Your task within this project is to unravel the coupling between the fluid mechanics of the convective and diffusive mixing and the physicochemistry of the self- assembly of the lipid and therapeutic molecules. You will thus work on the fundamentals of LNP formation with the ultimate aim to develop understanding required to allow bottom-up design of microfluidic devices and operating conditions tailored to specific needs in terms of LNP size distribution and therapeutic loading. To gain understanding, you will design and fabricate microfluidic chips and you will be trained to master a broad range of experimental techniques including ultra-high-speed (fluorescence) imaging at the sub-µs timescale and confocal imaging. Whenever possible, you will develop hand in hand with the experiments accompanying numerical simulations and theory to test our understanding.

The NANOSPRESSO-NL consortium works on all aspects of brining personalized LNP therapeutics to the clinic starting at understanding the microfluidic formation of LNPs (you), the development of novel microfluidic devices (you), the implementation of the microfluidic devices in a cartridge containing all fluids (analogous to a Nespresso cup), the development of a tabletop device that can operate the cartridge (Nespresso coffee machine), cell and preclinical experiments, to all legislation related to bringing new medicine to the market. This is thus a unique opportunity to develop deep fundamental physicochemical (hydrodynamic) understanding of LNP self- assembly with the possibility to achieve a relatively short-term impact while gaining insight in all aspects that play a role in the development of new pharmaceutical products.

You will be embedded in the dynamic BIOS/Lab on a Chip group, which is part of the Max Planck Center Twente for Complex Fluid Dynamics, the J.M. Burgers Research Center for Fluid Mechanics (JMBC), and the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. You will closely collaborate with the Laboratory for Clinical Chemistry & Hematology of the University Medical Center Utrecht (Prof. Dr. Raymond Schiffelers), with SINTEF in Trondheim (Norway), as well as with a pharmaceutical spin off company of the UT (Solstice Pharmaceuticals). Your direct colleagues in the BIOS group are active and organize many after-work activities.

Your profile
  • You have a strong background in physical chemistry, (applied) physics, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, or in a closely related discipline.
  • You are enthusiastic and highly motivated to do a PhD and are driven by curiosity.
  • You have strong communication skills, including fluency in written and spoken English and you like to collaborate within a highly multidisciplinary team.
  • You have experimental experience and are creative in the lab.
  • Knowledge on fluid mechanics, microfluidics, microscopy, experience in image and data analysis, and/or in physical chemistry are a plus.
  • Our offer
  • As a PhD candidate at UT, you will be appointed to a full-time position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment;
  • The University offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year);
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • The flexibility to work (partially) from home;
  • A minimum of 232 leave hours in case of full-time employment based on a formal workweek of 38 hours. A full-time employment in practice means 40 hours a week, therefore resulting in 96 extra leave hours on an annual basis.
  • Free access to sports facilities on campus
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence, while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff.
  • Information and application

    Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the 'Apply now' button below before February 16, 2024 and include:

  • An up-to-date detailed CV (resume)
  • A short motivation letter of maximum 1-page detailing your background, interests, and your motivation to apply for the advertised position
  • An academic transcript of B.Sc. and M.Sc. education, including grades.
  • The name and email address of up to three reference people able to provide reference letters if requested.
  • For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Tim Segers ([email protected])

    About the organisation

    The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) uses mathematics, electronics and computer technology to contribute to the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With ICT present in almost every device and product we use nowadays, we embrace our role as contributors to a broad range of societal activities and as pioneers of tomorrow's digital society. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

    Want to know more? Segers, T.J. (Tim)

    Associate Professor

    Segers, T.J. (Tim)

    Associate Professor

    Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Tim for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.



    Email:[email protected]

    How to apply Step 1

    Apply. When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

    Step 2

    Selection. The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

    Step 3

    1st interview. The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

    Step 4

    2nd interview. In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

    Step 5

    The offer. If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

    Your Colleagues
  • Broek, M.R.P. van den (Martin)
  • Personal page

  • Berg, A. van den (Albert)
  • Personal page

  • Vreman, M.J. (Macy)
  • Personal page

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