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PhD Candidate, Multi-Scale Computational Insight in Precise Targeting of the Blood-Brain Barrier

A PhD position is available immediately in the Biophysical Organic Chemistry (BPOC) group at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC), for a cross-disciplinary …

bijna 4 jaar geleden


J.H. Oortweg, Leiden, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


A PhD position is available immediately in the Biophysical Organic Chemistry (BPOC) group at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC), for a cross-disciplinary project that is supervised by dr. Agur Sevink. The project is a collaboration between this group and the Supramolecular and Biomaterials Chemistry (SBC) group of prof. Alexander Kros, and aims at employing theory and modern multi-scale computational techniques for obtaining a deeper molecular understanding of the role of lipid structure and selective protein binding in the experimentally observed targeting of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) by binary liposomes with a very specific lipid composition.

Selective targeting of the BBB is an important topic in drug delivery research, owing to the poor affinity of many therapeutic drugs towards this barrier (giving rise to dosing issues and potentially leading to tissue damage) and the observation that a series of acceptors on the membrane render it an ideal target for selective drug delivery. The research in this project will focus on applying and extending coarse-grained/hybrid computational techniques for obtaining a deeper understanding of membrane binding and liposome structuring in terms of the lipid chemistry and composition, both by theory and by employing an efficient MD-SCF/MPCD computational method that was recently developed in the BPOC group and uniquely enables simulation of relevant liposomes with molecular resolution. The second aim is to obtain insight in the function of lipoprotein lipases (LPL) in binding to these liposomes and in their transport along the BBB.

The computational work will be performed in a synergetic feedback loop with experimental characterization activities that are already taking place in the SBC group, meaning that the candidate is expected to have good communication skills and basic knowledge of (physical organic) chemistry, apart from expertise in coding (C or C++, Python), modern computational modelling approaches and thermodynamics/statistical physics.

The BPOC group hosts experts in diverse topics in a vibrant intellectual environment, ranging from state-of-the-art computational techniques at the electronic (QM), atomistic (MM, MD) and coarse-grained (CGMD, DPD, SCFT) scales to experimental imaging and characterization techniques at a variety of length and time scales (with a focus on NMR). The shared goal is to uncover the fundamentals of key biophysical phenomena, with a clear focus on natural and artificial photosynthesis. The candidate will have to participate in teaching activities within the group and within the Chemistry curriculum at the LIC.


  • Master's degree in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or requivalent;
  • Good communication skills and good to excellent proficiency in English;
  • Ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Strong computational background and preferably ample experience with coding in C/C++ and Python;
  • Experience in molecular dynamics and/or modern coarse-grained methodologies is a plus;
  • The candidate should be strongly interested to expand his/her horizon beyond the specific field of his/her major and should have demonstrated an excellent educational track record;
  • The PhD research needs to start before December 2018.


We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from €2,222 to €2,840 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science/graduate-school-of-science . Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Additional information

Enquiries can be made to Dr. Agur Sevink, email a.sevink@chem.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact secretary Mrs. Liesbeth van der Velden, email veldenevander@chem.leidenuniv.nl, telephone +31 71 527 4539.

To apply for this vacancy, please send no later than 22 July 2018 an email to the secretary of the Biophysical Organic Chemistry group, Mrs. Liesbeth van der Velden at veldenevander@chem.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you include in your application the vacancy number and the following additional documents:

  • A cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position/research topic;
  • A recent CV;
  • The letters of recommendation by 1 or 2 former supervisors;
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies.