PhD Student

Last application date
Nov 19, 2023 14:30
TW06 - Department of Electronics and Information Systems
Limited duration
Master of Science awarded by start data. For instance in Physics, Mathematics, Biophysics, Engineering, or equivalent.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Within the framework of a newly funded ERC Consolidator Grant (PASTIME project), we are seeking several motivated PhD students in biophysical modeling. The students will perform theoretical and computational research using simulations at the molecular scale.

In the PASTIME project, we will search for methodologies to study the kinetics of drug transport. Since experiments often are too expensive or lack sufficient detail, molecular simulations can give insight in the dynamics of drug binding to proteins, or the permeation kinetics of those drug molecules through membranes. While such computational methodologies exist, new fundamental developments are needed to understand the ‘time’ aspects and to make the computations feasible with present-day computer power.

Depending on the interest of the candidate, the student will work on one of the following topics:
- Developing new methods for simulations of drug transport through cell membranes, building up from membrane permeability calculations, for instance by reducing memory in the simulations.
- Developing new methods for screening of the binding kinetics of candidate cancer drugs to protein binding sites, with application in precision medicine, where drugs are tailored to the specific DNA of the patient.
- Improving the path sampling methodology to incorporate nonequilibrium kinetics, which is especially relevant for understanding cell death caused by a photoporation treatment.

The student will be embedded in the Biophysical Models for Medical Applications (BioMMedA, research group, which creates a motivating environment to perform research. BioMMedA is part of the Institute of Biomedical Technology (IBiTech), which is a hub of biophysicists and engineers working on biomedical research questions.

The PhD student will work towards a doctoral degree through the doctoral schools program of Ghent University under the supervision of Prof. An Ghysels. A contribution to teaching can also be part of the job content. This research is performed in close collaboration with international groups (e.g. the group of Prof. Titus van Erp at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway). Locally, collaborations within the Cancer Research Institute Ghent network (CRIG, Ghent, Belgium) are encouraged, especially for experimental validation of the research results, and international collaborations with other research groups are also possible.

We offer:
• A fully funded, full-time PhD position at a competitive salary. There will be a one-year probation and, after a positive evaluation, the contract can be extended for another three years (4 years in total).
• You will be working in the friendly and dynamic BioMMedA group. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with experts in molecular simulations through our international network. Locally, you will be able to interact with experts in cancer research and experimental partners, thus allowing to validate your simulation results. You will have access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure at the Flemish High-Performance Computing Centre (VSC), allowing for high-level scientific training at a top-ranked university.
• You will have the opportunity to attend international conferences, publish your results in high-profile journals and visit relevant research institutes.
• Ghent University has a generous benefits package open to all its staff members, including a wide range of training and education opportunities in the Doctoral Schools and a wide range of sports and leisure facilities. Ghent is a vibrant, safe, cultural, and welcoming university city allowing great quality of life.

Job profile

(1) You have excellent skills in physics/mathematics (for method development) and you enjoy abstract thinking.
(2) You are skilled in scientific programming, data analysis, and dealing with large data (computational tools for generating and analyzing data of complex molecular systems), for instance with Python (or equivalent).
(3) Ideally, you have also knowledge in statistical physics, biophysics or material physics, programming, scientific communication. Ideally, you have already some experience with molecular simulations. Knowledge of biology or chemistry is a strong point, but not necessary at the start of the PhD.
(4) You have a problem-solving, analytical mind, dedicated to overcoming technical challenges.
(5) You have an open attitude towards learning, and are driven, hard-working, committed to obtaining a PhD.
(6) You have good oral and written communication skills, with fluency in English.

How to apply

- Your application must be in English and consist of the following:
1. A motivation letter
2. A curriculum vitae
3. Copies of the relevant diplomas
4. Grade lists (transcript of records of Bachelor and Master courses)
5. Optionally: a sample part of your master thesis or other problem solving accomplishment

- The curriculum vitae should also mention a list of two professors with their institute and contact details, who have supervised you in your Bachelor and/or Master research project and who are willing to provide a letter of recommendation (later in the application process).

- The curriculum vitae should mention the dates (month and year) and locations (city and country) when you describe studies, positions, etc.

- The application should be sent to using the following subject line: "PhD: kinetics in molecular simulations, LAST NAME, FIRST NAME”.

Submissions will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Only complete applications will be considered. From all applications, a short-list of candidates will be made, who will be contacted for an interview (possibly over Skype).