PhD in 3D Printing Artificial Cells

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 31 Jul 2021

Bio-Organic Chemistry Group: Our ambition is to create hybrid cells and organelles that can be used to mimic and adjust cellular processes. We employ expertise from polymer science, nanotechnology and cell biology to achieve our goals. Are you the enthusiastic PhD student that fits in our group of excellent researchers? Are you fascinated by the scientific challenge of building up lifelike systems, from the bottom-up, using non-living components?

The research of the group Bio-organic Chemistry focuses on compartmentalization strategies to construct micro and nanocapsules which can be applied in the areas of nanomedicine and artificial cell research. We design smart delivery vehicles that for example cross the blood brain barrier or are used in cancer therapy. We use nanoparticles as scaffolds for vaccine development. We construct capsules with life-like properties, such as metabolism, organelle-mimetic behavior and cell growth and motility. In our research we combine techniques from protein engineering, polymer chemistry and bioconjugation approaches to create particles with bioactive properties.

Further information on the research interests of Prof. Jan van Hest can be found on their website.

A PhD position is open in the Artificial Cell cluster of the research group, where your project will be focused on 3D printing artificial cells. Working alongside a team of other PhD students and postdocs, your main goal will be to develop techniques that will enable the 2D and eventually 3D patterning of artificial cells into artificial tissues. This is an exploratory project that will utilize our existing coacervate-based protocell platform to build up arrays of protocells with fine control over their contents, size, and positioning. Such control will enable the construction of the next generation of complex, multi-component, adaptive artificial tissues. There are opportunities in this project to examine both the fundamentals of diffusion-based molecular communication, as well as the application of this technology to biomedical challenges such as organoid culturing.

In this project, you will be expected to develop expertise in 3D printing of artificial cells, characterize these artificial tissues via light and electron microscopy, and collaborate with other members of the Artificial Cell cluster to incorporate new functionalities into the artificial tissues. This project could also include the chemical modification of protocell membranes, the modelling of diffusion via computational methods, and interactions with external academic/commercial collaborators. Your training over 4 years will also include the communication of your results to a broad range of audiences via oral presentations and written research (peer-reviewed publications and a doctoral thesis).

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