PhD position - Interaction of intelligent drug delivery vehicles with model biomembranes

Context & Job description

The aim of this PhD project is to gain a fundamental understanding of the interaction of a range of ‘intelligent’ delivery systems with various cellular/sub-cellular membranes. Specifically, the project will combine the use of a variety of interfacial techniques, including neutron reflectometry and ellipsometry, to achieve this understanding. Four advanced delivery systems, namely lipid nanoparticles, polymeric nanoparticles, vesicles and nanoemulsions will be examined by studying their interaction of lipid monolayers mimicking the composition of the various cell and sub-cellular membranes. Significantly, the results of the study will be used to aid in the design of improved delivery systems to target the desired intracellular site of action. This PhD project will, therefore, offer a unique opportunity to translate fundamental studies into pharmaceutical development through mechanistic understanding of biological systems.

Further information may be obtained from Armando Maestro  (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 20 80 87, email: and Samanthan Micciulla (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 20 7247, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrollment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, chemistry, biochemistry or closely related science.
  • Knowledge of neutron and x-rays scattering techniques would be an advantage.
  • Proficiency in English  (A proof of upper-intermediate level would be advantageous and can be provided in the application. Applicants originating from native-English-speaking countries can apply without the need for proof of level. An official degree conducted in English will be also accepted as a proof; Students without proof upper-intermediate level may still apply and their level of English will be checked during the interview.)
  • Compliance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility rule: candidates may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment.
  • At the date of recruitment, early-stage researchers must be in the first four years of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must satisfy eligibility criteria according to the partner university requirements for PhD enrollment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school at the University of Manchester (UK), although he/she will be based full-time in the Large Scales Structures group at the Institut Laue-Langevin (Grenoble, France). Here the world leading neutron reflectometer FIGARO is situated as well as a suite of complementary techniques in the Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter. A secondment for a period of 3 months in AstraZeneca, (Cambridge, UK) will be arranged for the student.

More details on the InnovaXN programme on

Company description

InnovaXN is a Horizon 2020 MSCA COFUND programme providing an opportunity for 40 industrial companies to work with 40 PhD students, performing advanced research and exploiting the unique characterisation techniques of the ESRF and ILL. Through collaborations with industry, innovation will be the central theme of the programme. This will provide a unique cross academic-industry science setting, secondment opportunities and society-relevant research, training the future key researchers able to tackle major research and societal challenges.

The equal opportunity policies of the ESRF and ILL have been in place for many years. These policies focus on gender balance, cultural diversity and inclusion of disabled staff.

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