PhD student position in chemistry: Biomimetic virus receptors for antiviral research and future pandemic preparedness


Ref REK 2021/255

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.


Faculty and Department

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.


About the project

Based on a unique supramolecular chemistry concept and advanced cell models, this project will address both fundamental and applied aspects of virus infections. A virus' ability to adhere to and enter a cell is essential for its reproduction and a critical factor affecting disease severity. Viruses often attach first to carbohydrates followed by strong interactions with one secondary or tertiary receptor. The sum of the multivalent interactions leads to very strong binding but, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, this key step in the infection is still poorly understood as is the importance of receptor motility. Cellembrane dynamics are most often studied on membrane-model surfaces made of lipids. These are often unstable, difficult to work with and can be difficult to manufacture. A chemical concept to mimic the cell's membrane so-called rSAMs (reversible self-assembled monolayers) and smartly designed cell models can resolve these problems. rSAMs mimic the dynamic aspects of cellular membranes and receptors that virus particles attach to but are stable and easy to manufacture (see Yeung, S.-Y. et al. ACS Central Science, 2017. 3, 1198-1207). In this project we will develop and use these models to try answer basic questions related to SARS-CoV-2 infection biology while using their unique properties to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions.

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR, project number: VR-MH- 2021-02118) and is led by Malmö University. Other partners are Linköping University the Departments of Clinical Virology and Physical Chemistry at Lund University, the Skåne University Hospital and two companies, Diagonal Pharma AB and ArgusEye AB.


What difference will this make?  We believe that the impact of this project on clinical practice can be significant. A fast and sensitive method for detecting different virus variants in respiratory fluids are of utmost importance for the clinical management of patients with respiratory infections. Equally important in a longer perspective is to develop strategies for broad-based antiviral treatments. Generally antiviral drugs based on multivalent action, as opposed to a monovalent drug or antibodies, function in a more holistic way and treat a wide range of viral infectious diseases. rSAM nanoparticles are made from readily available building blocks and can, in contrast to antibodies, be quickly optimized for strong virus binding.


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).


PhD-student position in Biomedical science

The PhD student will be admitted to a PhD education at Malmö University. The PhD education will run for four years on 100% working time. The research topic is "Biomedical Science" and the Faculty offers a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Science. Provisions on appointment as a PhD student are laid out in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 5. When making the appointment, under Chapter 5, Section 5 of the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, consideration must be given to the student's ability to benefit from studies.

In order to be considered for admission as a doctoral student, the applicant must meet the general and specific entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes and be considered in other respects to have the ability required to benefit from the course or study programme. The higher education institution may permit an exemption from the general entry requirements for an individual applicant, if there are special grounds. Ordinance (2010: 1064).


General entry requirements:

  1. a second-cycle higher education degree
  2. completed course requirements of at least 240 higher education credits, of which at least 60 higher education credits are second-cycle, or having in some other way, nationally or internationally, acquired equivalent knowledge.

Specific entry requirements:

  1. 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.



Basis of assessment

The successful candidate will have a masters’ degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, preferably organic, medicinal or analytical chemistry. Experimental laboratory experience is required and candidates with interdisciplinary experience directly related to the research topic of the position outlined above, notably supramolecular chemistry, biomimetic chemistry, assay technologies and biosensing will be given preference.

When making the appointment (HF Chapter 5, § 5), consideration must be given to the student’s ability to benefit from doctoral studies.


Further information

Börje Sellergren, Professor in Biomedical Technology. Phone: +46 40 665 7810, Mail:
For general questions regarding employment at Malmö university, contact HR-specialist Jill Moberger +46 (0)40 6657840, E-mail:

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 February 14, 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:

  1. A brief summary of scientific, teaching and other qualifications relevant to the position, together with a motivation for applying to this PhD-student position
  2. Signed CV
  3. Attested copies of certificates
  4. List of scientific publications
  5. Copy of a master/magister degree thesis or equivalent.
  6. References (at least two: names, titles, contact information positions/relation)



The post is full-time and for a limited period, 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.


Start date

March 1st, 2022 or upon agreement


Union representatives

SACO-S: Desirée Annvir,
Lärarförbundet: Carl-Erik Blomberg, 
ST/OFR: Aje Carlbom


We are looking forward to receiving your application!


You apply no later than 14/02/2022 by clicking the apply button.