PhD position - Diffusion in supramolecular gels for drug delivery

Context & Job description

The quest for novel drug delivery vehicles is increasing in importance, especially considering personalized medicine and emerging drug modalities. Long-lasting drug delivery with tailored release kinetics is still challenging. In this project we aim to generate fundamental knowledge for the tailoring of such platforms based on supramolecular gels.

Supramolecular gels are based on small organic molecule gelators macroscopically immobilizing the solvent at concentrations well below 1 wt%. However, solvent and drug molecules diffuse on the microscopic level with variable impact of the gel fibre network. Using spectroscopy accessing the diffusion dynamics of solvent and drug molecules on different timescales and connecting this with macroscopic drug release kinetics and gel rheology will enable us to tailor diffusion and drug release kinetics from these gels.

You will join the spectroscopy group at the ILL as PhD student of the University of Manchester and primarily employ neutron spectroscopy in this project. This is complemented by techniques such as small angle scattering to probe the gel structure, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for longer diffusion timescales.

The project runs in collaboration with our industrial project partner AstraZeneca, UK, and you will be placed with the partner for 3 months for drug release studies.

Further information may be obtained from Katharina Edkins (tel.: +44 (0)161 275 8348, email: and from Tilo Seydel (+33 (0)4 76 20 75 79, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as 2:1 or higher in an undergraduate degree, MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, physical chemistry, pharmacy, chemistry, chemical engineering or closely related science
  • A background in X-ray or neutron scattering, and/or experience working with and characterizing (supramolecular) gels will be an advantage.
  • A strong interest in both experimental work performing sample preparations and scattering experiments, as well as in data analysis and modeling involving the use of python or MATLAB will be required. Moreover, excellent communication skills and autonomous work in a multi-faceted team at 3 different locations will be needed.
  • 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 of 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 at the doctoral academy of the University of Manchester as part of the Division of Pharmacy and based full-time at the  ILL (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-month secondment at Astra-Zeneca in Macclesfield, UK. 3 months of the degree will be held at the University of Manchester for training purposes. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training programme 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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