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PhD studentship in NanoMOF Supramolecular Systems for Drug Delivery


In collaboration with MedImmune, the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications is inviting applications for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship commencing in October 2016. 

We are currently recruiting an outstanding PhD candidate for a project involving the development of new systems based on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for drug delivery applications, and cancer in particular. The project is a collaborative research program between the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge and MedImmune. 

Cancer is an enormous health problem; every year, more than 12 million people are diagnosed with the disease. Among existing treatments, chemotherapy kills cells that divide rapidly (e.g. cancer cells), but also healthy ones that divide rapidly under normal circumstances. The major goal of new anticancer therapies is therefore to selectively kill tumour cells. 

This project lies at the interface between biotechnology and chemistry, and focuses in the use of porous MOFs, one of the most exciting developments in recent porous materials science, for improving anticancer therapies through the development of novel treatments based on the use of RNAs and inhibitor peptides. These macromolecules are potentially the most powerful anti-cancer drugs that exist, but still there is no efficient way of getting them delivered specifically to the tumour. Indeed, lifetime of such molecules is generally too short and therefore need to be protected or encapsulated until they are delivered. By making use of a drug delivery system, many of these disadvantages can be overturned. In this regard, MOFs combine a vast structural and chemical diversity that make them extremely attractive for the encapsulation and release of therapeutic agents. [1] The main questions we are trying to solve in this project are: Which materials are the best ones for drug delivery applications? Can we modify optimal MOFs to enhance stability and controlled drug release? Can we target specific tissues with these materials? The approach is based on MOF synthesis and post-synthesis modification, and involves the use of in vitro, and potentially in vivo, studies, and the use of different types of microscopy. 

You will be part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications, which has a yearly intake of around ten students. During the first year you will participate in a highly interdisciplinary taught course consisting of lectures, practicals and research projects covering a wide range of technologies and applications in sensing and imaging as well as business related courses. Successful completion of the first year will lead to a Master of Research qualification (MRes) after which you will be optimally prepared for your MedImmune PhD project in years 2-4. 

The ideal candidate will have a 1st or upper 2nd class degree or equivalent in chemistry, biotechnology, biochemistry, chemical engineering, or a related scientific discipline, and experience in cross-disciplinary work. Previous experience in drug delivery systems, antibodies, cell cultures, microscopy and MOFs are welcome. This is a multidisciplinary project and the successful candidate will benefit from an extensive peer-group of researchers, as well as an important interaction between academia and industry. 

[1] Orellana-Tavra C, Baxter EF, Tian T, Bennett TD, Slater NKH, Cheetham AK, Fairen-Jimenez D. Amorphous metal-organic frameworks for drug delivery. Chem. Commun. 2015; 51, 13878-13

More information about the research project can be found at:

For more information about how to apply please visit

For informal enquiries contact Dr Oliver Hadeler at .

Please note that due to funding restrictions this studentship is only available to UK and EU applicants.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 25 March 2016.

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