The Department of Pharmacy is offering a three-year PhD fellowship to investigate the interplay between antimicrobial host defence peptides and bacterial or human outer membrane vesicles, and to investigate their potential for targeted drug delivery. The PhD project will be carried out within the recently established LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery (LFCCDD), which integrates several disciplines, including molecular biology, immunology, microbiology, physical chemistry, peptidomics and pharmaceutics, to perform state-of-the-art research and to create innovative solutions within cutaneous drug delivery of both small and large molecules.

The successful applicant will be a member of the Novel Biological Models group and will have the opportunity for cross-disciplinary research in collaboration with the other sections of the Center as well as external collaborators.

The fellowship is available from the 1st of April 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project description

Antibiotic resistance development in bacteria has become an increasing issue in human medicine, animal husbandry and agriculture. As more antibiotics have become ineffective, focus has shifted towards alternative antimicrobial therapies such as host defence peptides (HDPs), which may not only kill a broad spectrum of microbes, including multi-resistant strains, but also modulate host inflammatory responses.

Bacterial and host membrane vesicles (MVs) play important roles during infection. Whereas host MVs are released in response to bacteria and may bind and neutralise bacterial toxins, bacterial MVs may counteract detrimental host responses, bind and disable various antibiotics, and may play a role in antibiotic resistance. However, the interaction between MVs and HDPs is unknown. Therefore, in this project we will focus on understanding the interplay between HDPs and MVs during infection. Additionally, we will study specificity of MVs, to explore their potential for targeted delivery of antimicrobials.

The successful candidate will be a member of the Novel Biological Models group within the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery and will work in close collaboration with a postdoc, who will be hired at the same time. This project, which is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, will be divided into two subprojects: HDP interactions with 1) human MVs or 2) bacterial MVs.

Depending on previous experience, the PhD student will work on one of these parts while the postdoc will be in charge of the other.

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Mariena J.A. van der Plas

E-mail:  mariena.van_der_plas@sund.ku.dk, phone: + 45 35 33 27 16

Co-supervisor: Professor Martin Malmsten

E-mail: martin.malmsten@sund.ku.dk, phone: + 45 31 49 92 03

Your job

Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at the Faculty are to:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Write scientific manuscripts and the PhD thesis on the grounds of your research project
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Obtain experience with teaching and other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Participate in the undergraduate teaching of students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Participate in national and international conferences and scientific meetings
  • Stay at an external research institution, preferably abroad


We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic individual with the following competencies and experience:

Required qualifications

As an applicant you must have:

  • Obtained a relevant Master´s degree prior to the starting date
  • Fluency in English and excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • The ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment.
  • The ability to travel for performing experiments at collaborators.

Preferred qualifications

The ideal candidate for this project hands-on experience with research on outer membrane vesicles and a background in microbiology and/or immunology. Experience with host-pathogen interaction studies, host defence peptides, physical chemistry and mass-spectrometry data interpretation is an advantage.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme
  • Relevant work experience
  • Previous publications
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities and achievements
  • Language skills

Terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project to the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.

The PhD student is expected to be affiliated to the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around DKK 27,593 (approx. 3,700 EUR) (taxable) plus pension (April 2020 level).

Application procedure

Your online application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.
Your application must include following documents/attachments – all in PDF format:

  • Cover letter (approx. 1 page) describing your background, qualifications, interest and motivation for applying for this position
  • Full CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records: Master´s degree diploma (including grade transcripts for bachelor´s and master´s degrees). Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used.
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications and relevant certificates
  • Names and contact details of references and/or recommendation letters

Deadline for application

31st of January 2021, 23:59 GMT+1. Please note that only online applications will be accepted.
Applications received later than this date, or which do not live up to the abovementioned requirements, will not be considered.

Post application procedure

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorised recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

Interviews are expected to be held in the end of February.

You can read about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/


For further information, applicants may contact supervisor Mariena van der Plas at  mariena.van_der_plas@sund.ku.dk, or PhD administrator Marianne W. Jørgensen, e-mail: marianne.joergensen@sund.ku.dk, phone: +45 35 33 64 49.

For more information on working and living in Denmark visit http://ism.ku.dk (International staff mobility) and https://www.workindenmark.dk

University of Copenhagen wish to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation. Appointment will be based on merit alone.


Leave a Reply