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EU  Ocuther

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 722717.

ESR13: Focused ultrasound (FUS) in ocular drug delivery; Utrecht University/University Medical Centre Utrecht (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centered around four themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Youth & Identity, and Institutions. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 3500 students and nearly 2000 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society.

Early Stage Researcher (PhD Candidate) for the Ocuther European Training Network

within the Marie Sklodowska Curie Programme (1,0 fte)

Application deadline: 5 Feb 2017


The core activity of the Pharmaceutics groups ( is the design and pre-clinical testing of tailor-made drug delivery systems for site-specific, time- and/or rate-controlled delivery of small molecular weight drugs, therapeutic proteins, and nucleic acids (including DNA and siRNA). The major strength of the department is the multidisciplinary nature. As such it can cover the development of drug delivery systems from the design and synthesis up to preclinical testing. It has a good infrastructure for synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles in addition to a dedicated cell culture facility. In addition, it has access to one of the biggest laboratory animal facilities in Europe providing support in animal testing and in vivo imaging. The dept. Pharmaceutics is a member of the faculty of Science, but is also part of the Utrecht Life Science Cluster with the aim to advance therapies into the clinic. In addition, the dept. Pharmaceutics has many collaborations with academic groups and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide.

The OCUTHER  project will provide training across a wide range of disciplines including biology, pharmaceutics, chemistry and material sciences, ensuring interdisciplinary and intersectoral experience. You will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Life Sciences of Utrecht University and will defend your PhD at the end of the project.

Early Stage Researcher 13: Focused ultrasound (FUS) in ocular drug delivery

Access of the retina to therapeutic agents from the peripheral circulation is limited by the impermeability of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB). The task of the ESR is to investigate whether exposure of the Blood-Retina Barrier (BRB) to focused ultrasound waves (FUS) while microbubbles are circulating in the bloodstream (so-called sonoporation) can induce a transient increase of the retina vascular permeability for ocular drug delivery. MRI will be used to guide the procedure, and the BRB permeabilization will be verified through the delivery of an MRI contrast agent that normally does not reach the retina.

Required background: Msc degree in an appropriate field of science (e.g. pharmacy, chemistry, medicine, molecular life sciences). Experience with nanomedicine research and MRI is highly advantageous.

Work environment

You will perform your PhD research in a multidisciplinary Initial Training Network (ITN) project called OCUTHER.

What we expect from you

At the time of recruitment you must be in the first four years of your research career and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree; You have excellent communication skills and are able to work efficiently in a team. Specific technical requirements are mentioned separately for the individual ESR descriptions. Recruitment is open to all nationalities, but because of mobility rules defined by the EU, at the time of recruitment, candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the three years immediately prior to the starting date (compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account).

What we have to offer

  • employment: 1,0 fte;
  • the gross starting salary amounts to € 2,125 per month, and will increase to € 2,717 in the fourth year;
  • in addition to the salary: an 8 % holiday allowance and an 8.3 % end-of-year bonus;
  • duration of the contract: 4 years;
  • you will be classified as a PhD candidate in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO).

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Would you like to know more?

  • Further information on: The OCUTHER project
  • Further information on: The Pharmaceutics Group
  • For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
    • Dr. Enrico Mastrobattista
    • E-mail:

Are you interested?

You should upload your application exclusively using the button ‘Apply’ on the relevant vacancy on the website

Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachments:

  • Letter of motivation
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Brief statement on how you will contribute to this project

For more information on your application: +316 22736567

No commercial propositions please.