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PhD Position on hydrogels for cell encapsulation and soft tissue repair

Job description

A fully financed 4yr PhD position at the interface of polymer chemistry, biomaterials synthesis, and biomedical sciences; is available at the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Twente (UT) in the Netherlands. Our research group develops bioinspired hydrogels for cell encapsulation and soft tissue repair. Using tools from macromolecular chemistry, biomaterials chemistry and cell biology, we fabricate functional and responsive hydrogels that can be integrated with living cells and tissues. We are looking for a highly motivated, creative, dynamic, and enthusiastic researcher to strengthen our research team.

Within the biomaterials field, a prominent application of hydrogels is 3D cell encapsulation. These soft materials are used in vitro as culture models for drug testing or in vivo as injectable matrices for cell therapies. An exciting approach to control material’s performance and processability towards a specific biomedical scenario consists in pre-programing the hydrogel’s network at the molecular level, for example, by the rational choice of the crosslinking chemistry. The goal of this PhD is to develop a cell-encapsulating hydrogel platform that is bioadhesive, degradable, self-healable, and adaptable. The tailored properties are crucial to integrate these hydrogels with living entities. In this project, novel bioinspired chemistries for hydrogel crosslinking will be developed, as a strategy to control important materials properties like gelation rate, mechanical stability, cytocompatibility, and processability. These hydrogels will be applied for 3D cell culture and cell-materials interactions will be investigated.

At the University of Twente, you will become part of a dynamic, multidisciplinary and multinational team, with excellent prospects for the development of young researchers. The project will be supervised by Dr. Julieta Paez, and you will work at the Developmental BioEngineering group and the TechMed Centre for biomedical research.

Your profile

  • You hold a master’s degree in Polymer Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Biomaterials Science, Biomedical Engineering, or equivalent;
  • You have demonstrated experimental skills in synthesis of organic/ polymeric precursors (e.g. reactive monomers, peptides, polymer modifications, hydrogel precursors), purification methods (e.g. column chromatography, HPLC, dialysis), and related characterization techniques (e.g. NMR, UV-Vis, and IR spectroscopies, mass spectrometry, size exclusion chromatography). Previous experience in (bio)materials characterization (e.g. physicochemical, mechanical, biological) is an advantage.
  • You have a strong interest in hydrogels for 3D cell culture, and want to learn how to design, synthesize, characterize, and process these materials by novel technologies (e.g. 3D bioprinting, microfluidics).
  • You have good writing and presentation skills, demonstrated by experience in writing technical reports and/or scientific papers.
  • You have excellent analytical skills and critical mindset.
  • You are a team player with good interpersonal skills and are willing to work in a collaborative environment.
  • You are fluent in English, both spoken and written.
  • You are self-motivating, willing to take initiatives, feel the responsibility for your own research project, and want to learn to communicate your findings in scientific meetings and conferences.

Our offer

We offer a challenging multidisciplinary position in the group of Developmental BioEngineering at the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Twente. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic and international colleagues.

  • As a PhD candidate you will be offered a full-time (38 hours/week) position for 4 years (with an internal evaluation after 6 months), after which you should have completed your PhD thesis.
  • In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, the gross monthly salary for a PhD increases from € 2434,- in the first year to € 3111,- in the final year plus a holiday allowance (8%), an end year bonus (8.3% of the annual salary) and a number of additional benefits
  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating, modern research environment with world-class research facilities to accelerate your further professional and personal growth.
  • You will be embedded in a dynamic research group with a strong network for collaborations.
  • The University of Twente is situated on a green and lively campus with lots of facilities for sports and other activities.
  • Your main responsibility will be to carry out research, but you may be given the opportunity to acquire some teaching experience. We offer our PhD students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge by participating in national and international conferences and workshops.
  • You will follow a high-quality personalized educational program.
  • The research will result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period.

Information and application

You are welcome to contact Dr. Julieta Paez (j.i.paez@utwente.nl) for questions related to this position. The vacancy remains open until a suitable candidate is selected. For applications, please use the ‘Apply now’ button below to submit your documents before October 10th, 2021, including the following documents, in a single pdf file (<5 MB):

  • A short and meaningful motivational letter (max. 1 page A4) describing your research interests and why you apply for this position.
  • A detailed CV, including experience in synthesis and analytical techniques, list of publications and/or participation to conferences (if available), and contact information (incl. email address) of at least two references who worked closely with you and are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
  • Academic transcripts from your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and a short description of your Master thesis (if available).

About the organization

TNW Faculty (Faculty of Science & Technology)

The Faculty of Science & Technology (Technische Natuurwetenschappen, TNW) engages some 700 staff members and 2000 students in education and research on the cutting edge of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Our fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. 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 and is strengthened by the many young researchers working on innovative projects with as doctoral candidates and post-docs. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

PhD Position on hydrogels for cell encapsulation and soft tissue repair
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