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Postdocs (2) for NWO-Vici project Shape-shifting Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery

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DepartmentBiomedical Engineering
Work locationGroningen
Apply no later than25 July 2021

Working environment

You will work in the Nanobiomedicine group of Inge Zuhorn at the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) of the University Medical Center Groningen and the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Groningen. The research in the Zuhorn lab focuses on the design of nanoparticles, and the study of nanoparticle-cell dynamics. Our aim is to exploit physiological transport routes for nanoparticle-mediated drug and gene delivery. In the Shape-shifters project our aim is to exploit the process of transcytosis for the delivery of nanomedicine into brain tumors.

The BME Department provides an excellent environment to carry out the research because of its multidisciplinary nature, combining chemistry, biology, biophysics, bioengineering and mechanical engineering. BME provides direct access to equipment needed for nanoparticle synthesis, biophysical and mechanical characterization, and functional analysis in cell culture models. In addition, the UMCG imaging center (UMIC) provides access to state-of-the-art electron microscopes and light microscopes. The Shape-shifters project team will consist of 2 postdocs, 2 PhD students, and 1 technician, and involves collaborations with the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (ZIAM) at the University of Groningen, and the research groups of André Gröschel (University of Münster) and Patrick van Rijn (UMCG).

Job description

For the NWO-Vici project ‘Shape-shifting nanoparticles for drug delivery to the brain (Shape-shifters)’ we are looking for two postdocs to synthesize and characterize innovative polymer-based nanoparticles for drug delivery to the brain. We offer a challenging project in a multidisciplinary team within the University of Groningen/University Medical Center Groningen.

Numerous compounds that are potentially beneficial in the treatment of diseases are not stable inside the human body and/or are not able to efficiently reach the target tissue. Encapsulation of these compounds into nanoparticles may solve these issues. However, thus far the main beneficial effect of drug-loaded nanoparticles compared to the free drug is a reduction in off-target effects, while there is no improvement in drug delivery to the target tissue. Improvement in the design of nanoparticles that is focused on enhancing the accumulation of drug molecules at target tissues is needed.

In the Shape-shifters project our aim is to develop nanomedicine for the treatment of brain tumors, taking into account that nanoparticle accumulation in tumors may not rely on passive leakage through gaps in the tumor microvasculature. Through the use of state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo model systems that represent the biological barriers that need to be combated by the nanomedicine, we will determine the required physical/chemical/mechanical properties of the nanoparticles. Varied demands are then integrated in stimuli-sensitive nanoparticles that undergo shape-shifting in response to environmental stimuli.

What do we need

We are looking for ambitious postdocs who thrive in a team environment.

Postdoc Position 1: The candidate will perform synthesis and characterization of polymeric micelle assemblies for creating stimuli-responsive shape-shifting nanoparticles. The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. André Gröschel (University of Münster).

Candidates with a strong background in synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, nanoparticle synthesis, and characterization are highly encouraged to apply for this position. Applicants must have obtained a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry or Polymer Chemistry or a related field, with:

  • experience in one or more controlled/living polymerization techniques (ATRP, RAFT, AROP, etc.);
  • experience with polymer analogue reactions;
  • experience with (basic) organic synthesis;
  • experience with self-assembly concepts;
  • experience with analytical techniques including, polymer related analytics (GPC, NMR; UV/Vis, IR, DSC; TGA) and microscopy techniques (TEM, SEM, AFM, FCM);
  • acquaintance with cell culture (cancer cells, and endothelial cells) and cellular biology is desirable.

Postdoc Position 2: The candidate will perform synthesis and characterization of nanogels for creating stimuli-responsive shape-shifting nanoparticles. The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Patrick van Rijn (University of Groningen, UMCG).

Candidates with a strong background in nanomedicine and cell studies are highly encouraged to apply for this position. Applicants must have obtained a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences/Life Sciences or a related field, with:

  • expertise in the field of drug delivery/nanomedicine;
  • experience with basic polymer and/or organic synthesis;
  • experience with physicochemical and/or mechanical characterization of nanoparticles;
  • experience with cell culture;
  • experience with cellular assays;
  • experience with cell biological techniques (spectrophotometry, fluorescence, immunoassays, blotting techniques, etc.);
  • acquaintance with 3D cell culture and blood-brain barrier models is desirable.

The postdoc candidates must be highly motivated and have excellent communication skills in English (both in writing and speech) to work within the multidisciplinary team. They will be involved in the hiring and supervision of two PhD students that will join the project in the second year. In addition, a technician will be part of the team.

When applying for the job, please specify if you apply for position 1 or position 2.

What do we offer

A fulltime postdoc position for 3 years (36 hours a week). Your salary will be a maximum of € 4.615,- gross per month (scale 10), depending on your qualifications and relevant experience, based on a full-time appointment. In addition, the UMCG will offer you 8% holiday pay, and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. The conditions of employment comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Medical Centres (CAO-UMC). English: http://www.nfu.nl/english/about-the-nfu/

More information

For more information about this vacancy you may contact:
dr. Inge S. Zuhorn, telephone +31 50 361 6178, e-mail address Contact

Applying for a job

Please use the the digital application form at the bottom of this page - only these will be processed. You can apply until 25 July 2021.
Within half an hour after sending the digital application form you will receive an email- confirmation with further information.