Doctoral student in Biomedical Science Focused on Bicontinuous cubic liquid crystals as potential matrices for non-invasive topical sampling of endogenous biomarker.


Ref REK 2022/176

About 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. Our research and education are characterised by the role we believe a university should play in an open society — to contribute to sustainability and equality in a scientifically grounded way with external partners and stakeholders. Identifying and addressing the challenges of the future are of highest priority. Our researchers and students work collaboratively to create, share and spread knowledge in order to understand, explain and develop society — both locally and globally.



The Department of Biomedical Science 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 develop the theoretical and practical understanding of the complex subject matter. Drawing on the balance between basic and applied research, the Department has been successful in attracting funding from regional, national, and international research funding bodies. In addition, in the pursuit of possible applications, several industry funded contract research projects are currently running at the Department.

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. 

Work duties

Those appointed to doctoral studentships shall primarily devote themselves to their studies. Those appointed to doctoral studentships may, however, work to a limited extent with educational tasks, research, artistic research and administration, however, duties of this kind may not comprise more than 20 per cent of a full-time post (Chapter 5, Section 2 of the Higher Education Ordinance).

The core question for the overall project is “How to achieve topical quantification of low molecular weight endogenous compounds for monitoring skin-disorder progression and healing?” A limiting factor in the development of non-invasive methods for detection of skin disorders is the restricted access to skin disease biomarkers. Biopsies are used today because the diagnostic decision is based on analysis of high molecular weight (HMW) biomarkers, e.g., cytokines or cell surface receptors. Since HMW biomarkers do not leak to the skin surface, these biomarkers cannot be used for non-invasive detection. However, skin barrier allows diffusion of low molecular weight (LMW) compounds (< 500 Da). Thus, we hypothesize that it is feasible to achieve robust non-invasive or minimally invasive monitoring of skin disorders by monitoring LMW biomarkers. Particularly, we aim to develop non-invasive or minimally invasive monitoring of LMW biomarkers of inflammation and cancer.

The main goal for this specific PhD-project is to further explore and develop the potential of using bicontinuous cubic liquid crystals as matrices for non-invasive topical sampling of endogeneous biomarkers. The large interfacial area, comprised by these specific liquid crystals, separating their interconnected polar and apolar domains allow them to accommodate various types of solutes of hydrophilic, amphiphilic, or lipophilic nature. More specifically the research questions envisioned comprise i) effects of electrostatics on biomarker extraction and partitioning from skin, as well as its effects on lipid phase behavior in general, ii) alternative strategies to polymerize lipid-based liquid crystals to tune their cosmetic properties, and how such measures affect their phase behavior and response to changes in the ambient (like water uptake and swelling), iii) recovery of biomarkers absorbed by the patch and their accurate analysis, iv) clinical proof of concept on healthy test persons, and ultimately on skin cancer patients.

Candidates must have a background in chemistry or pharmacy with a good understanding in thermodynamics. Experience from working with biological material, as well as in design and physicochemical characterization of lipid-based pharmaceutical formulations is advantageous. Special considerations will be given to previous hands-on experience in more than one of the following methods: microscopic techniques (e.g. PLOM, TPM, CLSM, TEM, SEM), X-ray diffraction and nanotomography, thermal analysis (ITC, TGA, DSC, ISC), in vitro drug release methodology (type Franz, USP Dissolutest). Documented excellent level of English (understanding, speaking and writing) is essential. The candidate is expected to present the results in form of manuscripts, and should also have the ability to work in a team and collaborate with people in complementary disciplines. Apart from carrying out research within the mentioned areas, the applicant is expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of relevant instruments and participate in teaching.



In order to be admitted to third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet the general and specific entry requirements of the subject in question. Moreover, the applicant must be deemed capable of assimilating the education.

General entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes (HEO Chapter 7 Section 39) have those who:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

Specific entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes have those who:

  • comprise at least 90 ECTS, of which 30 ECTS should be at second cycle level, in a subject which is of relevance for the research domain in question or which in some other way involve broadly equivalent knowledge. 

Assessment criteria

This is a multidisciplinary project. Therefore, the ideal candidate has a background in either molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry or related disciplines and a strong willingness to perform research in areas where these disciplines overlap. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) are necessary. Hands-on experience in the following techniques and topics is a strong merit: research related to the skin organ, cell cultures and biochemistry assays, neutron/x-ray scattering, NMR, LC/MS lipidomics, plasmonic sensing, confocal Raman microscopy.

In addition to formal competence, University employees must possess the personal capacities necessary to perform the duties of the position well and to represent the University in the best possible way. The successful candidate should have the ability to work in a team and collaborate with people in complementary disciplines.

Selection criteria

Selection among applicants who meet the general and specific entry requirements shall be made with regard to their capacity to assimilate the education (HEO Chapter 7 Section 41). 

Further information

Prof. Johan Engblom, +46 (0) 706087525,

For general questions regarding employment at Malmö university, contact HR-specialist

Ewa-Marie Dahlgren, 040-665 79 52,

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.


You may 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 September 10th, 2022. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the University can read what is written in the application. If the application is not written in Swedish, English or any of the Nordic languages, the applicant is responsible for the application and its appendices being translated.

The application must include:

  • Completed application form for admission to Research Education 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Diplomas, transcript of records and other certificates relevant for the position
  • A brief research plan presenting the focus of research and a thesis concept, and how this relates to the specific post (max 4 pages). The research plan must contain an overall purpose, questions that the project intends to answer, an account of the methodological approach, a description of material collection and type of research material and an account of the theoretical framework
  • Independent work at advanced level (including master thesis or equivalent).



Preparation of admission to postgraduate education and employment as a doctoral student take place in parallel. Only those who are or have been admitted to third-cycle courses and study programmes at a higher education may be appointed to doctoral studentships (Chapter 5, Section 3 of the Higher Education Ordinance).

The doctoral studentship is a fixed-term position comprising four years of full-time studies, in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 5 Section 7.

Malmö 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 salary setting for doctoral students in accordance with a local agreement on salary setting for doctoral students.


Start date

As soon as possible 

Union representatives

Désirée Anvir, SACO                        

Carl-Erik Blomberg OFR/Lärarförbundet

Naser Eftekgarian, OFR                  



We are looking forward to receiving your application!


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