Doctoral Researcher(s) in controlled and targeted drug delivery

The Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Helsinki conducts research in pharmacy and provides the highest education in the field. The Faculty offers the undergraduate degrees of Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy), Master of Science (Pharmacy) and Master of Science, as well as doctoral degrees (Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmacy) and Doctor of Philosophy). Additionally, the Faculty offers specialization studies in community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy as well as in industrial pharmacy, and actively participates in further education in the field. The Faculty also educates Swedish-speaking Master of Science (Pharmacy) graduates. The Faculty of Pharmacy has three divisions: Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology. Faculty staff from different study programs cooperate in the degree programmes, which are responsible for the education leading to the degree.


The Faculty of Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology group, invites applications for the 1-2 new positions of 

DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS in controlled and targeted drug delivery

We are looking for highly motivated and skilled PhD candidates with a Master’s Degree or equivalent in pharmacy, bioscience, chemistry, biotechnology, or related fields. The positions are contractual for fixed-term, funded by the Research Council of Finland. The appointments start the earliest from 1st September 2024 (or as agreed on) and lasts until 31 August 2028. The positions will be filled with six (6) months probationary period.

We are looking for researcher to join two projects led by Doctor Zahra Gounani and Professor Timo Laaksonen, at the Pharmaceutical nanotechnology group, ( at the Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences. The projects aim at 1) better understanding of targeted pH responsive liposomes liposomes, controlled targeted delivery of antibiotics, and the therapeutical benefits of liposomal delivery of antibiotics, and 2) The use of new polysaccharide-based hydrogels for controlled and triggered drug release using light activation and liposomes as tools. The topics are close to other research projects in our group, and you will be joining a large and growing team working on pharmaceuticals technologies and formulations. We are also part of the GeneCellNano Flagship project ( and well connected to the academic community in Finland.


In the first project, a successful candidate is expected to develop protocols for formulation of gated pH-responsive liposomes and aptamers against bacterial elements and to characterize the biotherapeutics of the liposomal delivery system against biofilm. In the second project, the candidate is expected to develop new light or heat sensitive polysaccharide hydrogel formulations that can be combined with external light activation mechanisms. This might also be combined with liposomal carriers. A preliminary research plan has been made for both projects. You will contribute to the fundamental understanding of how advanced drug delivery systems can be optimized for precise delivery and controlled drug release, which contribute to improving precision and personalized medicine. 
The duties of the doctoral researcher include conducting research in the project framework with the aim of achieving doctoral degree in accordance with the degree requirements of the University of Helsinki, supervision of undergraduate students, and other discipline-specific teaching. The teaching tasks can cover a maximum of 5 % of the total annual working hours.

What can you expect to do:

  • Work on an exciting multidisciplinary research project at the forefront of drug delivery. We expect the doctoral candidate to be active especially in the experimental research
  • Identify, prioritize, design, conduct, and report research within the project's scope 
  • Contribute to undergraduate student supervision and teaching within the department 
  • Engage with the scientific community, research partners and communicate your research internationally and nationally through e.g. scientific publications and conference presentations.

What we can offer you:

  • Inspiring research group in an international environment with supervisors who have time and interest to help you. 
  • An opportunity to obtain expertise in nanomedicine and microbial biology. 
  • Access to and training on a state-of-the-art research infrastructure. 

We are looking for applicants with:

  • A master’s or equivalent degree in a relevant field (e.g., pharmaceutical sciences, biosciences, nanobiotechnology, chemistry, biotechnology), a genuine interest in science, and passion for solving challenging research questions. 
  • Effective verbal and written English communication skills. 
  • Ability to work both independently and in a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary team
  • Previous experience on synthesis and characterization of liposomes, other nanoparticles, or hydrogels is seen as a strong advantage.
  • Additionally, experience or knowledge in some of the following would be beneficial, but non-mandatory
    • Experience in at least some standard laboratory techniques (i.e. DLS, FTIR, Raman, UV-vis, HPLC, TEM…).
    • Microbiological expertise or experience in working with cell cultures.
    • Aptamers, DNA origami, SELEX, gel electrophoresis, oligonucleotide purification and quantification.
  • However, we do not expect you to be a master of everything when you start: your concrete tasks will be tailored based on your previous knowledge and current interests. So, do not hesitate to apply!


The University of Helsinki welcomes applicants from a variety of genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and minorities.


Right to pursue a doctoral degree
The appointee should either already have a right to pursue a doctoral degree at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, and approval by suitable doctoral programme (Doctoral Programme in Drug Research – DPDR) by the start of the appointment or apply for the right and obtain it within the probationary period of six months of their appointment. If the appointee does not already have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, it must be applied separately,
please see:


Salary and benefits

The salary is based on the job requirements scheme for teaching and research staff according to the salary system of the Finnish Universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a personal salary component. The Doctoral researchers start from level 2. In total, the starting gross salary of a doctoral researchers is typically around 2400 EUR per month, and raises gradually as the PhD work progresses. The requirement level of a doctoral researcher is determined based on progressing in the studies. Doctoral researchers advance to level 3, when they are in the midpoint of completing the work required for the doctoral degree, and eventually to level 4, when it is estimated that the researcher can publicly defend the dissertation in approximately one year. Read about the employee benefits at the University of Helsinki and why University of Helsinki is an excellent choice:


Interested in the position, how to apply?
Please submit your application and the required attachments in English through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System, preferably as a single PDF file.

The application should include

  • A motivation letter (max 2 pages) addressed to both Dr. Gounani and Prof. Laaksonen, describing why you are interested in this position, how you would contribute to this project and how you are qualified for this position. Also mention which project would interest you more.
  • A detailed CV (max 3 pages) with full details in education, completed qualifications, prior research/work experience, possible list of publications.
  • Language skills certificate (if available).
  • Copy or link to the online version of the MSc/licentiate thesis (if available), and contact information of 2 references (e.g.: previous supervisors, employers, or other references/recommendations).


The closing date for applications is 10th August 2024 (23:59 EEST). Applications will be reviewed already during the application period and Zoom interviews of shortlisted candidates will take place right after the deadline. 


Further information


Information related to admissions to doctoral studies

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Open position

Due Date:  10.8.2024
Unit:  Faculty of Pharmacy
Sub-unit:  Faculty of Pharmacy
ID:  3329

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