PhD - Assessing and improving the sustainability of medicines over their life cycle (24739) -...

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 17 Oct 2022

   →  Apply before 17/10/2022 (DD/MM/YYYY) 23:59 (Brussels Time)
   →  Faculty of Bioscience Engineering  
   →  Department: BW24 - Groene Chemie en Technologie
   →  Occupancy rate: 100%
   →  Number of positions: 1    
   →  Type of employment: Contract of unlimited duration with a 4 year clause 
   →  Term of assignment: 01/12/2022 until 30/11/2025(prolongation possible) 
   →  Wage scale:  WM1 to WM4 (master degree) 
   →  Required diploma: Master 


Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 8,000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities. With 11 faculties and more than 80 departments offering state-of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.


We welcome applications for a full-time PhD position within the Research Group Sustainable Systems Engineering (STEN) of the Department of Green Chemistry and Technology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health of Ghent University Hospital. The PhD student will be appointed in a fellowship position on the EU HORIZON 2020 project "TransPharm”. This project contributes to a more sustainable pharmaceutical industry and improves the European readiness for sustainable production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that have environmental or supply concerns.

A short summary of the TransPharm project:

Medicines are essential to human health. At the same time healthcare contributes 4.4% of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions, of which 12% can be attributed to pharmaceuticals (20% including their complete supply chain). The active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can also cause environmental impacts, for example on aquatic ecosystems and drinking water resources as a result of patient use, and downstream of production sites. However, the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals is not yet fully understood and needs a thorough investigation and quantification. The environmental impact of medicines is determined by their design and their production. The production of pharmaceuticals requires a lot of energy and materials and, after use, their molecular design determines the burden of their residues to the environment. Studies have shown that APIs are found everywhere in the environment, including both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. On the other hand, medicines clearly do not only have a footprint but they clearly have a positive contribution at the patient: a handprint. In TransPharm, we will develop environmentally friendlier APIs, and reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, all in relation to the benefits or handprint they offer to patients.

Your task within the project:

You will focus on the development and testing of innovative approaches to assess the sustainability of pharmaceuticals over their life cycle. These approaches will:

  • look into ecotoxicological aspects in the aquatic environment, as a result of the production chain; and see how this can be integrated in the integrated sustainability assessment;
  • give attention to auxiliaries such as solvents, separating agents and catalysts, production intermediates, residues, metabolites, transformation products (e.g. after wastewater treatment), and their mixtures;
  • Integrate sustainability aspects related to the design, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals with those related to prescription, use and disposal;
  • balance the footprint with health and other societal benefits (‘handprint’).

At least 90% of your assignment will be spent on academic research in preparation of a doctoral dissertation


Candidates are expected to have a (bio-)engineering, chemical engineering or pharmaceutical engineering background and/or affinity with sustainability analysis methods such as life cycle assessment.

For this project we are looking for someone who is critical, analytical and has a sense of initiative.

Other profile requirements:

  • You hold a master's degree in bioscience engineering (chemistry or environmental technology), chemical engineering, environmental engineering, pharmaceutical engineering, or equivalent. The degree requirements must be met at the start of the appointment.
  • You are interested in scientific research in order to obtain a doctoral degree.
  • You have good writing and presentation skills.
  • You have a very good oral and written knowledge of academic English.
  • You live in Belgium or are willing to settle here for the duration of the appointment.
  • You are open to the possibility for a Joint PhD between the EU partners.
  • Additional plus points: 1) You have experience in carrying out quantitative and/or qualitative research and in collecting data independently and 2) You have experience with LCA software such as openLCA, Gabi, SimaPro, etc. and LCA databases (e.g. ecoinvent).


  • We offer you a contract of indefinite duration with a maximum term of 4 years.
  • Your contract will start on 1/12/2022 at the earliest.
  • Your remuneration will be determined by salary scale WM1. Click here for more information about our salary scales .
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, a bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).


Apply online through the e-recruitment systembefore the application deadline (see above). We do not accept late applications or applications that are not submitted through the online system.

Your application must include the following documents:

  • In the field ‘CV’: your CV and an overview of your study results (merged into one pdf file)
  • In the field ‘Cover letter’: your application letter in pdf format
  • In the field ‘Diploma’: a transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.

Note that the maximum file size for each field is 10 MB.

Selection procedure:

- Preselection based on the provided documents

- Selection based on interviews

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.


For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Dr. ir. Jo Dewulf ( ). Important: do NOT send your application by email, but apply online.

Do you have a question regarding the online application process? Please read our FAQ .

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