Doctoral student in Mucin mediated Aqueous Biological Lubrication


Ref REK 2222/6

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.


About the position

The main goal of the PhD project is to investigate the mechanisms underlying aqueous biological lubrication, with a specific focus on that mediated by mucin layers.

Biological surfaces in relative motion are commonly occurring in nature and, just as any other man-made device, they need to be lubricated in order to achieve an optimal and long-lasting performance. Living organisms have developed lubricants with properties that surpass those currently used for lubricating man-made devices. In the search for key components of biological lubricants, mucins, which represent the major macromolecule comprising mucus gels, seem to be a cornerstone. The extraordinary lubrication performance of mucin layers has been related to their high hydration capability. Specifically, it has been hypothesized that mucin-based lubrication could be mediated by a hydration/solvent layer that forms around the exposed mucins. However, no conclusive experimental prove is available and other mechanisms might be involved. In fact, there is no consensus on the mechanisms underlying mucin mediated lubrication.

This gap in knowledge will be addressed in this project by means of a multidisciplinary approach. MUC5B mucins will be isolated from saliva and initially the relationship between their hydration and lubrication properties will be investigated by means of surface techniques e.g., QCM-D and AFM. This will be followed by investigations using a sample environment for neutron scattering studies that we have recently developed ( The applicant will participate in further technological developments of this prototype that will provide further insight into the relationship between the structural, hydration and lubrication properties of mucin films. The project will continue by using a similar approach to investigate gradually de-glycosylated mucin films in order to understand how the different glycan groups contribute to the structure, hydration and lubrication of these films.

This project is a collaboration between Malmö University (Sweden), the Technical University of Cartagena (Spain) and the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL, France). While the applicant will be primarily based in Malmö (Sweden), the project will require research/visits or stays at our partners facilities.

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.


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

This is a multidisciplinary project. Therefore, the ideal candidate has a background in either physics, biophysics, 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: atomic force microscopy (AFM), neutron/x-ray scattering, prototyping of scientific instruments and biochemistry techniques for protein purification and analysis. Hands-on experience in glycoproteins/mucins and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) is also highly valued.

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.


For more information contact

Dr. Javier Sotres, +46 (0) 406657926,
For general questions regarding employment at Malmö university, contact HR-specialist Jill Moberger +46 (0)40 6657840,

Malmö University kindly but firmly declines direct contact with recruiting and staffing agencies, as well as job advertising sellers.


Instructions to Applicants

You apply through Malmo Universities' recruitment system by clicking the button "apply/ansok". As applicant, it is your own responsibility that the application is complete with all the documentation requested in the advertised position. Your application must be submitted to Malmö University no later than February 11th, 2022.


The application should contain the following:

  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 list of qualifications (CV)
  3. Attested copies of certificates
  4. List of potential scientific publications
  5. Copy of a master/magister degree thesis or equivalent.
  6. References (at least two; names, titles, contact information positions/relation)


Planned starting date.

As soon as possible

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 11/02/2022 by clicking the apply button.