PhD candidate in Organic Chemistry and Photophysics University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science – Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences Netherlands

PhD candidate in Organic Chemistry and Photophysics

Faculty of Science – Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences


Publication date
7 March 2018

Level of education
Master's degree

Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month

Closing date
15 April 2018

38 hours per week

Vacancy number


The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavor & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organized into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.


The Molecular Photonics group is headed by prof. A.M. Brouwer and prof. W.J. Buma and is part of the university’s Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry. The group operates in close collaboration with research institutions and industry.


The development of active compounds that can efficiently fight microbial infections and cancer are of utmost importance for food security and human health, two main challenges for Europe. Tetrapyrrolic photosensitizers (PS) are good candidates to meet these expectations. The photo-excitable molecules induce cell death via the formation of oxygen reactive species (ROS) and present very low toxicity in the absence of light. They are already used in photodynamic therapy (PDT) for cancer or skin disease treatments or in photo-antimicrobial-chemo-therapy (PACT). Unfortunately, the research and training are still largely fragmented in this field in Europe. Some scientific barriers have to be overcome to increase their efficacy, e.g. improvement of the excitation pathways, ROS production, specific cell targeting, Gram (-) bactericidal effect and prevention and/or eradication of biofilms.


That is why the European Joint Doctorate project POLYTHEA aims at developing an integrated and multidisciplinary approach of PDT through the implementation of 10 PhD research projects. The POLYTHEA consortium proposes to develop (i) new tetrapyrrolic PS for various types of PDT including anti -cancer, anti-bacterial, anti- inflammatory and immune-activating applications, improving their photophysical and biological properties; (ii) innovative bio-inspired drug carriers or supports.


In parallel, a joint doctorate structure gathering 5 countries will be created and a multidisciplinary and inter-sectorial training program will be implemented through network events and secondments to non-academic partners. It will provide a common background on PDT to the early stage researchers (ESR) and make them more valuable employees, effective at problem solving. Practical applications should come out of this project such as first aid and bandages, new skin/anti- tumor treatments, self-sterilizing surfaces for food industry or prosthetic devices.


The Innovative Training Network POLYTHEA – Design and photo-optimization of photosensitizer for Human health and food security applications or 'how light can save lives' invites applications for a total of 10 PhD fellowships with international focus to be funded by the Marie -Sklodowska Curie actions as part of the H2020 Programme of the European Commission, as also specified on the Euraxess site.


POLYTHEA is a consortium of high profile universities and SMEs in France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Switzerland.


Project description

One main issue of the POLYTHEA project is to develop photosensitizing dyes which can be used in a modular fashion for a variety of biomedical applications within the consortium. There are multiple advantages in using NIR light for activating photo-physical processes relevant for photodynamic therapies. Thus, this project will focus on the development of new systems that can be excited by NIR light, using for example organic up-converters or triplet formation by charge recombination, in order to produce reactive oxygen species. This project is divided into two parts:

  1. Synthesis of photosensitizers with targeted photophysical properties;

  2. Evaluation of these targeted photophysical properties.


The PhD candidate should be a creative thinker that likes challenging projects. The PhD candidate should preferably have a formation and experience in organic synthesis and organic compounds characterization, and/or formation and experience in photo-physical studies.



  • Degree in Chemistry, Biology, Spectroscopy, Photophysics, Photochemistry;

  • recognized and high quality master’s degree or a 4 year bachelor degree program in the above research fields or other related subjects.


EU regulations for the PhD candidates:

  • persons, at the time of employment by the host university, are in the first four years (or full -time equivalent) of their research career and not in possession of a doctoral degree. Research experience is calculated from the date the person obtained a degree, which formally entitled them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained, or in the country in which the training is provided;

  • mobility criteria: PhD students are required to undertake transnational mobility (from one country to the other) when taking up the position. Research will be undertaken in 2 different universities and secondments and practical rotations will be required. At the time of employment by the home university, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (employment, studies) in this country for more than 12 months in the last 3 years. Short stays or vacations are not taken into account;

  • applicants must demonstrate that their ability in both written and spoken English is sufficiently advanced for them to fully benefit from the network training. Recognized English certificates (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, CLES...) must be submitted along with the application;

  • applicants must work exclusively for the project and can’t be hired or registered in another degree during the duration of their contract;

  • the ability to collaborate and adapt in an international team is required and candidates must possess good communication skills in oral and written English. Recognized English certificates (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, CLES...) must be submitted along with the application.


Further information


For further information, please contact one of the two PhD supervisors:

  • Dr René Williams, University of Amsterdam

  • Dr. Stéphanie Leroy-Lhez , University of Limoges




Positions are available starting from 1 September 2018, and we will recruit until all positions have been filled.
The candidate will be appointed full-time at the University of Amsterdam  on a temporary base for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,222 in the first year to € 2,840 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.


Job application


Applications for the position at the University of Amsterdam (ESR 3) may only be submitted through the official POLYTHEA website of the coordinator of the project.


Applications must include all requested items as specified in the general job description. All these items should be uploaded onto the POLYTHEA site.


The selection process commences immediately. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview during a Selection School in Coimbra (Portugal), between 18 and 22 June 2018. #LI-DNP

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