PhD Student Hydrogels for cancer treatment

Last application date
Jul 15, 2024 00:00
TW17 - Department of Applied Physics
Limited duration
We are looking for excellent candidates with a MSc degree in biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, chemistry, applied physics, engineering or materials science.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff


PhD position in the context of an interdisciplinary FWO research project:

“Plasma-treated hydrogels as a new selective therapy for head and neck cancer”


Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 15.000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities.

With its 11 faculties and more than 85 departments offering state-of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.

Job description

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate to develop and study plasma-treated hydrogels used in the treatment of head and neck cancer in a joint project between the Research Unit Plasma Technology at Ghent University (promotor: Prof. Dr. ir Nathalie De Geyter) and the FIERCELab at Hasselt University (promotor: Prof. dr. Esther Wolfs)


Despite current therapeutic advances, head and neck cancer is still associated with a bad prognosis. Recently, the use of cold plasma was proven to kill a variety of cancer cells, including head and neck cancer (HNC) cells, without affecting healthy cells. This selective anti-cancer effect was mainly due to the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) present in plasma. To prevent the side effects associated with direct plasma radiations, indirect treatments, in which plasma-activated liquids (PALs) are injected in the tumor as an off-the-shelf therapy, are preferred. Nonetheless, PALs are promptly diffused in the body leading to non-durable effects and HNC recurrences. This project launches a novel strategy based on plasma-activated hydrogels.

Job description:

The Ph.D. position will be organized as a joint PhD between the two involved universities. The job will focus on the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in a non-thermal plasma environment that will be carried by hydrogels to treat cancer cells. The student will work in close cooperation with plasma scientists, chemists and biomedical oncology experts.

About the Research Unit Plasma Technology:

The Research Unit Plasma Technology (RUPT) has built up an internationally recognized expertise in the field of cold atmospheric pressure plasmas. The successful development of different plasma generation concepts has launched RUPT into numerous interdisciplinary collaborations exploring a wide range of applications in environmental technology, materials science and biomedical applications.

About the Lab for Functional Imaging & Research on Stem Cells:

The Lab for Functional Imaging & Research on Stem Cells headed by Prof. Wolfs is specialized in preclinical cancer research using clinically relevant in vitro systems and animal models. There is a clear focus on developing alternative therapies with increased specificity to reduce unwanted side-effects.

Job profile

We are looking for excellent candidates with a MSc degree in biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, chemistry, applied physics, engineering or materials science. A solid background in biomedicine, polymer chemistry, or strong experimental skills are desirable. The candidate should have a clear interest in experimental and interdisciplinary work. The candidate should also be willing to travel frequently between both involved institutions. The Ph.D. student will be able to gain experience in areas such as cancer treatment, plasma chemistry and materials science. The candidate should be fluent in English and have this confirmed by a validated certificate. Students in the final year of their Master's program are also strongly encouraged to apply for this position.


Work for an interdisciplinary project on cutting edge of science; international team; very competitive scholarship; access to state of the art equipment; access to trainings and courses; participation in (inter)national meetings and conferences.


  • We offer a full-time position as a doctoral fellow, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which - after a positive evaluation, will be extended to a total maximum of 48 months.
  • Your contract will start on 10/01/2024 at the earliest.
  • The fellowship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP member in equal family circumstances. The individual fellowship amount is determined by the Department of Personnel and Organization based on family status and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral fellowships is considered free of personal income tax. Click here for more information about our salary scales
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

How to apply

Send your CV, copy of your diploma (if already in your possession) and a motivation letter to using “FWO project application” as subject

We do not accept late applications.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. dr. ir. Nathalie De Geyter (