PhD Position in Fluorescence Microscopy

Catholic University of Leuven


The PhD is hosted by the Rocha lab at KU Leuven, which develops fluorescence microscopy tools and assays to address biologically relevant questions. The group works at the crossroad between biology, chemistry and nanotechnology. The main imaging modalities use are confocal, multi-photon, single molecule fluorescence (single particle tracking, super-resolution) and multi-plane wide field microscopy. In parallel, we work on the optimization of biomimetic matrices for 3D cell models and functionalization of nanoparticles.


The use of nanotechnology incancer therapy has attracted growing attention over the past decade. Many drugnanocarriers offering considerable advantages over conventional chemotherapyhave been developed. While some nanomedicines are already in use in the clinics(eg. Abraxane and Doxil), the clinical output is too low compared to thesubstantial research ongoing in this field. Promising results in vitro can often not be translated in vivo. This is linked to the in vitro testing of nanocarriers in 2Dcultures, which can hardly mimic the complex network of a 3D tumor. To form abridge between the in vitro and in vivo, it is crucial to test theperformance of drug nanocarriers in advanced 3D cell models.

The main goal of thisposition is to evaluate the uptake, inter- and intracellular fate ofnanoparticles in 3D cell models of different complexity. These models include multicellulartumor spheroids (self-assembled aggregates of cancer cells grown in amatrix-free environment) and cancer organoids, grown using cells from tumorbiopsies.

You will use advanced optical (fluorescence)microscopy to characterize the different 3D cell models, selectivity of theparticle-cell interactions, the cellular uptake, endosomal escape, andintracellular drug release. 



We are seeking highly motivated candidates that hold a master’s degreein chemistry, biochemistry or nanotechnology related subjects. Experience withoptical microscopes, nanoparticle functionalization or 3D cell culture is aplus. The candidate should be open to interdisciplinary science and collaborations. KU Leuven offers in this respect an ideal environment with a large number of science groups working on different (applied) subjects.



  • You will be part of a EuropeanInnovative Training Network (ITN), with several academic and industrial partners.
  • Possibility to work in a multidisciplinary environment in close collaboration with the groups of prof. Rocha and prof. Uji-i. 
  • A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
  • Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial direction. Besides opportunities offered by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (
  • A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is one of Europe’s oldest academic institutions and is situated in a medium-sized vibrant student town with a large international community.   


To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose (1) full CV – mandatory, (2) motivation letter – mandatory, (3) full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as their transcription to English if possible) – mandatory (when you haven’t finished your degree yet, just provide us with the partial list of already available credits and grades), (4) proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, ...) - if available, and (5) two reference letters - if available
Informal enquiries and applications can be submitted to Prof. Susana Rocha ( or Prof. Johan Hofkens (
You can apply for this job no later than February 15, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: February 15, 2020
  • Tags: Chemie
  • Download: file

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