Vacancy PhD student Nanobubble photoporation 2016

PhD research project:

Photoporation for cell-selective delivery of proteins and nucleic acids


Context of the research project.

Lasers have found widespread application in medicine, such as for photothermal therapy. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), are often used as enhancers of the photothermal effect since they can efficiently absorb laser light and convert it into thermal energy. When absorbing intense nano- or picosecond laser pulses, AuNPs can become extremely hot and water vapor nanobubbles (VNBs) can emerge around these particles in tissue. A VNB will expand up to several hundred nm until the thermal energy from the AuNP is consumed, after which the bubble violently collapses, causing mechanical damage to neighbouring structures. In this project the aim is to make use of the disruptive mechanical force of VNBs to enable highly controlled and efficient delivery of macromolecules in cells. Although we have already proven that the technology works for siRNA delivery1, in this project we want to further explore the potential of photoporation for the delivery of proteins, mRNA and pDNA. The project will start with proof-of-concept studies in which the relevant parameters are optimized and will continue with the application of this technology to CRISPR/CAS mediated gene editing, e.g. in stem cells for tissue engineering.


  1. Xiong R., Raemdonck K., Peynshaert K., Lentacker I., De Cock I., Demeester J., De Smedt S.C., Skirtach A.G., Braeckmans K. Comparison of gold nanoparticle mediated photoporation: vapor nanobubbles outperform direct heating for delivering macromolecules in live cells. ACS Nano 8, 6288-6296 (2014).



The main task of the successful applicant is to perform research with respect to the project described above. In addition, contributing to the service and teaching duties of the group will be required. At the end of this 4 year doctoral research position a Ph.D. thesis must be written to obtain the degree of Doctor in Pharmaceutical Sciences.


What we offer. A one-year contract is offered, starting in August or September 2016, which can be prolonged after a positive evaluation with a maximum of 4 years in total.


Who can apply. The position is open to highly motivated candidates with a strong interest in bionanotechnology. Eligible candidates must have a master degree (or equivalent) in pharmaceutical sciences, (bio)medical sciences, bio-engineering, biotechnology or the like.

A strong interest in nanomaterials and cell therapies is required, as well as willingness to work and collaborate in a multidisciplinary team. Also students that will graduate in the academic year 2015-2016 are eligible to apply for the position.



  • Application deadline: May 20 2016
  • PhD project will start in August or September 2016


Further information. Contact Prof. Dr. K. Braeckmans (+3292648098) – Additional information about our research group can be found on our website: This PhD project is carried out in the context of the ERC Consolidator Grant project NANOBUBBLE, see