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The MeBioS division (www.mebios.be) of the Biosystems Department at KU Leuven investigates the interaction between biological systems and physical processes. This PhD project overarches the activities of three research groups within the MeBioS Division active in the supradisciplinary field of bionanotechnology, i.e. the technology of biological systems at the nanometer scale: the Biosensors group (Prof. Lammertyn), the Particulate Dynamics group (Prof. Bart Smeets) and the Biomimetics group (Prof. Casadevall I Solvas, coordinator of the Synery project).


Blood is a precious and vital resource for many clinical interventions. Yet, in low- and middle-income countries, insufficient blood donations and their unsafe control are endemic burdens that cost lives. Despite several decades of attempts, a safe and universal blood substitute has yet to be developed. The ambitious goal of the SynEry project (funded via an EIC Pathfinder Open framework of Horizon Europe) is to reproduce key features of erythrocytes in an advanced lipid vesicle or synthetic erythrocyte. Specifically, this position aims to tackle the construction of a biomimetic cytoskeleton to confer our synthetic erythrocytes with mechanical stability and biconcavity. The knowledge gained by producing such a synthetic erythrocyte, is envisioned to enable the production of artificial cells with in-vivo applicability and it will pave the way towards the future development of an effective blood substitute that can remedy pervasive global blood availability and safety issues.

Within the SynEry project, your tasks will focus on (1) the design and characterization of DNA-based origami of cytoskeletal-like 3D structures at the nanoscale, (2) functionalization of DNA for ligand recognition and self-assembly at lipid bilayer surfaces, (3) biomechanical characterization of cells and artificial cells using atomic force microscopy, (4) numerical modeling of micro-mechanical properties of artificial cells.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Jeroen Lammertyn, tel.: +32 16 32 14 59, mail: jeroen.lammertyn@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Bart Smeets, tel.: +32 16 32 85 92, mail: bart.smeets@kuleuven.be.

Applications must- include all of the following: (i) a personal motivation letter, (ii) a Curriculum Vitae including the names and contact details of at least two references, and(iii) lists of courses and grades of your BSc and MSc degrees, as originals and as transcripts. Please do not upload files of your publications and/or master thesis because these will not be taken into consideration during selection procedure.

Only complete applications will be considered. Screening of applicants will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position has been filled.

Selections will be made regardless of gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity and cultural background.

You can apply for this job no later than July 15, 2022 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.




Apply before: 15/07/2022

As a PhD candidate you should fulfill the following requirements:

  • You have a Master's degree cum laude in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biophysics, Biosciences or equivalent.
  • You are highly motivated to do research in dynamic environment and as part of this unique EU project
  • You are familiar with general laboratory practices and have hands-on lab skills
  • You are eager to use engineering skills in the field of bio nanotechnology
  • You have knowledge of physical and mechanical characterization tools such as force spectroscopy
  • You are familiar with bio molecular synthesis techniques and molecular characterization methods
  • You are communicative, creative, eager to learn and able to work independently as well as part of the team
  • You have a strong and proven knowledge of the English language, both talking and writing
  • You are proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams
  • Starting date is flexible, but you are available for starting before the 1st of September 2022

You will be offered an unique opportunity to pursue research in a dynamic and international research team of young people and experienced researchers sharing the same passion for research and development. In addition, you will interact on a regular basis with your colleague PhDs in the framework of the SynEry project. Asa PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the Arenberg Doctoral School at the KU Leuven.

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