PhD position-Nanoscintillator-photosensitizer for synchrotron radiation induced photodynamic therapy

Context & Job description

You will join the team of the biomedical beamline ID 17 at the ESRF and the Synchrotron Radiation for Biomedicine group. The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the ability of nanoscintillators to potentiate radiotherapy by inducing photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is a cancer therapy that relies on the photoactivation of non-toxic photosensitizers to elicit an anti-tumor response. A major limitation of PDT is the shallow penetration of light in tissue, which restricts the application of PDT to superficial tumors. In this context, nanoscintillators are emerging radiotherapeutics that down‑convert X‑rays into visible light. When conjugated to photosensitizers, nanoscintillators act as light sources that excite the photosensitizers under X-ray irradiation to induce PDT. To maximize the X-ray absorption contrast between nanoscintillators and tissues, orthovoltage X-rays are ideal. Thus, the monochromatic radiation delivered on the ID17 beamline, offers the unique opportunity to investigate this therapy.

You will first optimize nanoscintillator-photosensitizer conjugates. Then, you will test their ability to potentiate synchrotron radiotherapy in vitro on 3D models of microtumors. Finally, when a nanoconjugate will demonstrate promising effects in vitro, preclinical studies will be performed.

Further information may be obtained from Anne-Laure BULIN (+33 (0)4 76 88 29 96, email: ) and from Michael KRISCH (+33 (0)4 76 88 23 74, email: ).

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in biochemical engineering, organic chemistry or closely related science.
  • A background in biochemical engineering and experience in organic chemistry are desirable. Basics in physics or biology would be an asset.
  • An interest for pluri-disciplinary projects is desirable and a willingness to learn new skills in biology, physics and chemistry is essential.
  • Good communication skills, well-organized and methodical approach to work, sense of rigor, team spirit, autonomy, initiative, and results oriented.
  • 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 enrolment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school EDISCE (Engineering for Health) at the University Grenoble Alpes (UGA) and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France) and with the STROBE group, other than a 3-month secondment at the company PorphyChem. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training program will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 3-year PhD project.

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.

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