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Pharmacology, PhD fellowship in UCPH, Denmark – Overcoming the skin barrier using ZnO tetrapods

University of Copenhagen (UCPH)


PhD fellowship “Overcoming the skin barrier using ZnO tetrapods” is available at the Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND), University of Copenhagen – Denmark, Oct 2021.

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General Info

Position: PhD
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field:
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: Dec 01, 2021 or ASAP
Contract Period: 3 Years
Salary: According to Standard Norms

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND)
Department of Pharmacy
University of Copenhagen (UCPH)
Copenhagen K,

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Qualification Details

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 has extensive hands-on experience with cutaneous drug delivery systems, including their formulation and characterization using a variety of analytical techniques. Experience with skin permeation experiments 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

Responsibilities/Job Description

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 all Center activities
  • 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

How to Apply?

Online Application through "Apply Now" Button from this page or from advertisement webpage (URL below)

Reference Number: -
(If any, use it in the necessary place)

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Documents Required

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

About the Department

The Department of Pharmacy is offering a three-year PhD fellowship to provide a proof of concept for a penetration-enhancing effect of ZnO tetrapods on lipophilic and hydrophilic model drugs, when incorporated into cutaneous formulations. 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, 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 Drug Delivery Systems group and will have the opportunity for cross-disciplinary research in collaboration with the other sections of the Center as well as external collaborators.

About the Project

Dermal and transdermal drug delivery continues to be restricted to a comparatively small number of drugs with particularly advantageous properties for this route of administration, mainly due to the inability of many drugs to overcome the absorption rate-limiting stratum corneum. Several approaches have been developed to increase skin permeability; however, they frequently involve costly devices and are only suitable to treat a few square centimeters of skin, limiting the drug dose that can be applied to the skin and, hence, their usability. In this project, a novel approach to increase skin delivery similar to microneedles will be investigated by using spiky ZnO microparticles in tetrapodal shape (t-ZnO). Within biomedicine, ZnO micro- or nanoparticles have become interesting for a range of applications due to their low toxicity, biodegradability and antimicrobial properties. Incorporated into semi-solid formulations with active pharmaceutical ingredients, t-ZnO will be employed in this PhD project to disrupt the skin’s stratum corneum barrier and increase drug penetration. Focus will be placed on (I) testing the compatibility of t-ZnO with typical semi-solid formulations without penetration-enhancing effect, (II) incorporating both hydrophilic and hydrophobic model drugs and (III) investigating the influence of the rheological properties of the t-ZnO-containing formulations as well as rubbing frequencies and loads on drug penetration. All formulations will comprehensively be characterized using a range of analytical techniques. At a later stage in the project, colloidal drug delivery systems with inherent penetration-enhancing effect, namely microemulsions, will be used to study the effects of a combination of chemical and physical penetration enhancement. Moreover, all systems will be compared to corresponding drug-loaded formulations without t-ZnO that have been applied to skin either before or after treatment of the skin using microneedle patches under standardized conditions.

About the Employer: University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

Note or Other details

You can read about the recruitment process at

For more information on working and living in Denmark visit (International staff mobility) and

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Contact details

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Andrea Heinz, E-mail:

Co-supervisor: Professor Thomas Rades, E-mail:

For further information, applicants may contact supervisor Andrea Heinz ( or PhD administrator Marianne W. Jørgensen (, phone: +45 35 33 64 49).

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