Vacancy for highly motivated PhD Researcher: “Improving an existing computer organized screening and method optimization system”

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 30 Apr 2021

(ref. BAP-2021-249)

Laatst aangepast : 23/03/2021

For a collaborative project between Janssen Pharmaceutica and the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), focusing on automating the method development process for liquid chromatography separations, the department of Small Molecule Method Development/Analytical Development (AD-SMMD) of Janssen Pharmaceutica and the division Pharmaceutical Analysis of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences of KU Leuven are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate. AD-SMMD is responsible for the analytical method development and validation of assay and related compounds evaluation/characterization methods of small molecule drug substances, drug products, intermediates, chemical raw materials and in-process controls from early development through the lifecycle for commercial products; analytical transfer of these methods; characterization, certification, management and distribution of small molecule reference standards; supporting all regulatory filings, inspections and investigations. Within Pharmaceutical Analysis, the research group of the PhD promoter Prof. Deirdre Cabooter is working on the implementation of multidimensional liquid chromatography (LC) techniques in combination with mass spectrometry (MS) for different applications, the fundamental investigation of novel chromatographic supports and the development of automatable method development strategies for complex samples.


The project aims at re-evaluating and improving an existing automated screening and method optimization tool (COSMOS), developed at Janssen Pharmaceutica, to aid in the task of method development for pharmaceutical samples. COSMOS has been developed to reduce the amount of trial-and-error in the method development process and base the optimization of separations on scientifically substantiated decisions. The goal of the project is to further streamline the decision-making process within COSMOS, with the aim of further reducing the time required to fully optimize a chromatographic method. This implies the redefinition and automation of a number of key decisions (e.g., selection of scouting runs) and algorithms (e.g., peak detection and peak tracking algorithms) throughout the method optimization procedure. Additionally, it will also be investigated whether COSMOS can be expanded to multi-dimensional separations.


The candidate ideally has a Master in Chemistry or Engineering, Pharmacy, Bio-informatics or Bio-engineering, with a strong interest in analytical chemistry and chemometrics.
A good knowledge of and hand-on experience with (U)HPLC are an absolute must.
The candidate is familiar with the management, analysis and interpretation of big data and has intermediate programming skills (e.g. Python, R or Matlab) for managing, analyzing and interpreting data, as well as writing their own code to solve existing data-related problems.
Candidates must be proficient in oral and written English, must have excellent communication skills, multi-tasking skills, and be team-oriented, proactive and results driven.

The position can start immediately. Interested candidates should send their CV and a motivation letter using the KU Leuven online application tool.

We offer a PhD position in a stimulating environment, wherein you will work in an internationally reputed pharmaceutical company with a strong focus on R&D and at a top European university, in well-equipped, experienced and internationally oriented research units.

You will alternate between the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences at the Gasthuisberg Campus in Leuven, Belgium and the Janssen site in Beerse, Belgium.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Deirdre Cabooter, tel.: +32 16 32 34 42, mail:

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

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