PhD Position in Synthesis and Evaluation of Biodegradable Polymers for Colon Specific Drug Delivery
Catholic University of Leuven

The work will be performed in the Drug Delivery and Disposition research group (Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences; KU Leuven) under the direct supervision of Prof. G. Van den Mooter ( KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the "Times Higher Education" ranking, and ranks #7 (top in Europe) in the "World’s Most Innovative Universities" ranking elaborated by Reuters. KU Leuven offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad range of training courses for PhD students, and full social and medical insurance.


During the past 20 years, a considerable amount of work has been carried out in order to design several delivery systems for targeting drugs specifically to the colon (large intestine). Despite this, reliable systems that deliver drugs reproducibly to specific sites in the large intestine still do not exist. The large inter- and intra-subject variation in GI pH makes the approach of delivery systems based on pH-dependent polymers less suitable, and despite the fairly constant small intestinal transit time, the possible ‘hold-up’ time at the ileocecal valve is a serious drawback in the use of delivery systems that release drugs after a predetermined lag time. Undoubtedly, the preferred systems are those that rely on conditions that are only encountered in the colon, as these systems will give true site-specific delivery. In this respect, systems that can be degraded by colonic bacteria are very attractive and promising. Delivery systems based on natural polymers, such as polysaccharides are favorable with respect to safety, but their inherent water solubility is disadvantageous. Therefore, in this project, the candidate will design and synthesize derivatives of various biodegradable polymers (such as polysaccharides) with the aim to reduce their water solubility but at the same time maintain their biodegradability. In a second step, selected biodegradable polymers will be formulated as biodegradable coatings to deliver model drugs specifically to the colon. The site specific drug release will be studied during in vitro and in vivo tests.


  • Profile: Master degree in organic synthetic chemistry
  • Research experience: Master thesis work and/or experience in organic synthesis, chemical characterization (IR, NMR,…), etc.
  • Communication skills: Ability to work both independently and in a team, direct communication style. Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory!


The project is funded by a European Union H2020-MSCA-ITN grant. It covers competitive salary, lab and conference expenses towards the completion of a PhD degree at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of KU Leuven.

We offer a fulltime PhD position for 2 years, extendable to 4 years after initial positive evaluation. 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Guy Van den Mooter, tel.: +32 16 33 03 04, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than December 01, 2020 via the
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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: December 1, 2020
  • Tags: Farmaceutische en Farmacologische Wetenschappen

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