Postdoctoral researcher: Broken Barriers – How to maintain skin health and avoid a defective barrier


Ref REK 2021/277

Malmö University

Malmö University is an innovative, urban and international institute of higher education, located in the centre of Malmö. We have around 1,800 employees and 24,000 students. Malmö University is organized into five faculties: Faculty of Health and Society, Culture and Society, Education and Society, Faculty of Odontology and Technology and Society.

The Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health and Society, offers a programme leading to a professional qualification, Biomedical Scientist (first cycle, 180 credits), and a Masters' programme, Biomedical Surface Science (second cycle, 120 credits), as well as first and second cycle freestanding courses. The Department negotiates the multifaceted intersection between biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, and technology and the interdisciplinary approach to research and education aims to further the theoretical and practical understanding of the complex subject matter. Drawing on the balance between pure and applied research, the Department has been successful in attracting funding from regional, national, and international research funding bodies.

The research at the faculty is also linked to the research center Biofilms - Research Center for Biointerfaces, which combines biomedical science with clinical and translational research in medical, dental, food and environmental application areas in close collaboration with regional industry.

About the position

The research activities will be conducted in a network of academic, industrial, and clinical partners within a newly funded project entitled Biobarriers - Health, Disorders and Healing. The general vision of the research project is to improve health and healing of biological barriers by modernizing clinical treatments and products based on molecular level knowledge. In particular, the aim of the open position is to investigate how knowledge of molecular and structural characteristics of skin, manipulated by formulations, can be translated into clinical treatments and industrial products for maintaining skin health and preventing deterioration and breaking of the skin barrier.  

The outermost layer of the skin organ is called the stratum corneum (SC) and is responsible for the skin barrier, which effectively restricts both inward and outward diffusion of most molecules and thus upholds the water balance and protects us from harmful substances entering the body. The SC is normally exposed to dry and cold climate of the external environment. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is produced spontaneously in the skin barrier. These molecules are known to be beneficial for dry skin and certain skin diseases, such as winter xerosis and atopic dermatitis. We have previously shown that addition of this kind of molecules to the skin alters the molecular mobility of the SC lipid and protein components by retaining the dynamical properties associated with a more hydrated SC membrane at dehydrating conditions. Thus, by retaining the fluidity of the SC components on a molecular level, at reduced hydration conditions, NMF molecules can potentially act to maintain a healthy, soft, and pliable skin barrier.

This hypothesis will be investigated in more detail within this research project by investigating a selection of scientifically and commercially relevant excipients and/or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The main goal is to clarify the relationship between: 

  1. the permeability behavior of topically applied excipients/APIs at specified concentrations and characterization of their concentrations in the SC and the basal layer where viable keratinocytes reside,
  2. the effect of excipients/APIs on the molecular properties of the SC components (e.g. molecular mobility and structural arrangements of keratin filaments and extracellular lipids), and
  3. the effect of excipients/APIs at relevant concentrations (as determined from permeability studies) on cultured keratinocytes.

This relationship is key for understanding what kind of mechanisms that are important for maintaining a healthy skin organ and how to avoid factors and events leading to a defective barrier. With increased understanding of this relationship, it will be possible to explore the beneficial effects of excipients and/or APIs in a scientifically robust manner.

Notably, the work is expected to include both in vitro and in vivo methodology where pig skin is used as in vitro model for human skin, while examination of human skin in vivo is conducted on healthy or diseased human subjects after granted ethical permission; documented writing and approval of ethical permissions is therefore a valued benefit for applicants. Further, considering that the project requires collaboration between academic, industrial, and clinical partners, it is expected that the applicant actively communicates and collaborate within this context; documented project management and leadership abilities are therefore valued.

Apart from carrying out research within these areas the applicant is expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of the instruments involved and to be active by supervising graduate and postgraduate students and fellow scientists in the techniques and participate in teaching at graduate and postgraduate levels. In addition, the applicant will be expected to take part in applications for external funding to support research activities.

Required Qualifications and Criteria for Assessment of Applicants

Candidates must have demonstrated scientific competence corresponding to a doctoral degree. The ideal candidate holds a Master's degree in chemistry, biochemistry or biophysics and has completed a doctoral education focusing on the skin barrier and/or topical or transdermal drug delivery. Hands-on experience in some of the following methods is highly valued: in vitro permeability studies with Franz cells or similar, characterization of the skin barrier in vivo (e.g. TEWL, corneometry, tape-stripping, electrochemical measurements, etc.), solution or solid-state NMR, small- and wide-angle X-ray diffraction/scattering, HPLC with spectrophotometry and/or mass spectroscopy detection. The candidate should also have the ability to work in a team and collaborate with people in complementary disciplines, in particular with researchers of cell biology and immunology. 

For more information contact

Sebastian Björklund, +46 (0)40 6657891,


You apply for this position via Malmö University's recruitment system by clicking on the "Apply" button. As an applicant, you are responsible for ensuring that your application is completed in accordance with the advertisement, and that it is provided to the University no later than January 23rd, 2022. The educational qualifications may be documented with guidance from Qualifications portfolio for lecturers/researchers at Malmö University. See also Appointment Rules at Malmö University. Books and any other documents, such as publications, that cannot be sent electronically should be sent in triplicate in an envelope marked with reference number REK2021/277 and posted to the HR Department, Malmö University, 205 06 Malmö. If the documents weigh more than 2 kg, they should be sent to the delivery address: HR Department, Malmö University, Matrosgatan 1, 211 18 Malmö, marked with reference number REK2021/277.

The application must include:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Copies of Doctoral degree certificate or other relevant certificates
  • A brief account of scientific, educational and other activities relevant to the position, including a description of how the applicant envisions their future research and teaching
  • List of scientific and educational publications
  • Copies of three most relevant publications


University is a workplace and higher education institution that is characterised by an open and inclusive approach, where gender equality and equal terms add value to our activities. Malmö University applies individual salary setting.

In our recruitment work, Malmö University has taken a stand regarding recruitment channels and marketing. We therefore decline all offers of advertising and recruitment assistance in connection with this advertisement.

Starting date

March 1st, 2022 or by agreement.

Union representatives

SACO-S: Ann-Mari Campbell,

Lärarförbundet: Carl-Erik Blomberg,

ST/OFR: Aje Carlbom


Welcome with your application!

Du ansöker senast 2022-01-23 genom att klicka på knappen nedan.