PhD TransPharm - Transforming into a sustainable European pharmaceutical sector (24348) - Green...

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 05 Aug 2022

   →  Apply before 05/08/2022 (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: 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2026 
   →  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, UGent. The PhD student will be appointed in a fellowship position on the EU project "TransPharm”.

A short summary of the TransPharm project:

TransPharm is an EU HORIZON 2020 project, coordinated by university of Ghent in Belgium, and aims to move towards a sustainable pharmaceutical industry and to improve the European readiness for sustainable production of small molecules (active pharmaceutical ingredients, APIs) that have environmental or supply concerns. To reach the envisaged aims, the project will deliver four toolboxes for the development of greener pharmaceutical products and APIs, with the aim of analysing and predicting flow behaviour and environmental biodegradability and ecotoxicity of APIs and their synthesis pathways; identifying greener and more sustainable alternatives to pharmaceutical products / APIs of concern; reducing the footprint in synthetic schemes of APIs; and assessing the sustainability of pharmaceuticals over their entire life cycle. These toolboxes will be used to assess the potential to move towards the transition to greener pharmaceutical production. In addition, the team will elaborate on business cases for sustainable pharmaceutical products or APIs and what is needed to bring them to the market. The project will also make sure that key project results and knowledge are properly transferred towards targeted stakeholders.

Your tasks will mainly be connected to WP4 which focuses on the development and test innovative approaches to assess the sustainability of pharmaceuticals over their life cycle, specifically tailored to the needs of end-users such as regulators, industry and the health sector. These approaches will integrate sustainability aspects related to the design, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals with those related to prescription, use and disposal, including risk mitigation.  We will move beyond using the dose as the functional unit and balance the footprint with health and other societal benefits (‘handprint’). The aim is to develop a draft map of the pharmaceutical value chain and identify all potentially relevant environmental pressures. The sustainability assessment approach will be tailored to stakeholder views, needs and wishes.  Special attention will be paid to auxiliaries such as solvents, separating agents and catalysts, production intermediates, residues, metabolites, transformation products (e.g. after wastewater treatment), and their mixtures. Data needs will be identified and available data from the LCA and environmental risk assessment (ERA) communities will be critically analysed to understand how these can fulfil the data needs. The challenge of lacking LCI data will be addressed. The ultimate sustainability assessment approach will be described in a guidance document detailing: (1) the impact categories, (2) the necessary LCI data, (3) the methods to be used for translating LCI data into a sustainability score for each category, (4) integration of the scores into a sustainability indicator (linked to an appropriate functional unit), and (5) summaries of the case studies illustrating the approach. One potential application per sector (industry, regulatory and health) will be selected and  the generic approach can be operationalized to fulfil the needs and wishes of the stakeholder(s).

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


Candidates are expected to have an (bio)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 environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, environmental science, environmental technology 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).

Students graduating in June 2022 are also welcome to apply.


  • We offer you a contract of indefinite duration with a maximum term of 4 years.
  • Your contract will start on 1/10/2022 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. 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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