PhD position in Supramolecular Chemistry
Université Libre de Bruxelles at the Engineering of Molecular NanoSystems Laboratory

Job Summary

The Engineering of Molecular NanoSystems laboratory ( of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) offers a doctoral fellowship (4 years) for a highly motivated chemist to explore the transmembrane transport of phosphorylated compounds by synthetic anion transporters.


This fellowship is offered in the context of a project for excellent research funded by the European Research Council (ERC) aimed at the development of molecular transmembrane transporters for phosphorylated biomolecules.

In biology, lipid bilayer membranes function as impermeable barriers for ionic and hydrophilic species, which can only cross the membrane with the aid of dedicated membrane proteins. Synthetic organic compounds can also be used to transport ions of interest across membranes. They need to bind the ion in order to extract it from the aqueous phase into the bilayer, to then move across the membrane and to release the ion on the other side. The development of such mobile ion carriers is of interest for biochemical research and pharmaceutical or biotechnological applications. The aim of the project is to develop synthetic anion receptors that are able to transport phosphates and nucleotides across membranes.

Job description

The successful applicant will join the transmembrane transport team of Dr. Hennie Valkenier in the Engineering of Molecular NanoSystems laboratory, which addresses different aspects of the project described above. This PhD project will focus in particular on the development of new assays to study transmembrane transport of phosphates, using large unilamellar vesicles as membrane model systems. These assays will then be applied to study the transport performance of the anion receptors synthesised in our laboratory.

The PhD student will join the Technology and Engineering Sciences doctoral training school of the ULB. Participation in events from the national thematic doctoral school on Molecular, Supramolecular and Functional Chemistry (EDT-CHIM) and in national and international conferences will be part of the training program.  The ULB also offers a wide variety of courses on transferable skills, specifically targeting PhD students. More information can be found on:



The net amount of the fellowship will be ~€2000/month.

  • EU Citizens and citizens from countries that have a bilateral social security agreement with Belgium: social security coverage including medical insurance, unemployment benefit, retirement pension, maternity leave and child benefit.
  • Non-EU Citizens from countries that have no bilateral social security agreement with Belgium: social security coverage including medical insurance, maternity leave child benefit.
  • Insurance against accidents in the workplace.
  • Tax exemption.
  • Low-cost private hospitalization insurance.
  • On-site services at the ULB: medical , university hospital, sports , subsidized restaurants, cultural , crèche, activities for children…
  • No full fees for the PhD training program, only €32/year registration fees.

English and French are the languages spoken in the laboratory but all results will be disseminated in English (seminars, written reports, and articles).


Eligibility criteria

  • A Master degree in Chemistry or a closely related field
  • The fellowship cannot be awarded to a person who, before their doctorate, worked as an assistant at the University for more than 365 days in total.

Selection process

Applications should be sent by email to (with as subject: Application PhD – ORGANITRA, your name) and should include:

  • a cover letter to Dr. Hennie Valkenier, motivating the application and considering the listed requirements
  • a CV
  • a summary of the master thesis (in English, maximum 2 pages)
  • contact details of two persons who can provide a reference

The selection procedure will start once applications from competitive candidates have been received. Skype interviews will take place in November/December 2019, for the candidate to start at the beginning of 2020.


Offer Requirements

    Chemistry: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent



  • Experience with Physical Organic Chemistry, especially NMR spectroscopy and optical spectroscopy
  • Experience in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • Familiar with the concepts of Supramolecular Chemistry
  • An excellent Master thesis
  • Highly motivated
  • Keen to learn
  • Team worker
  • Able to analyse problems and think critically
  • Creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent communication skills in English


Specific Requirements

Hands-on experience with Supramolecular Chemistry, advanced NMR spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and with lipid bilayer membranes will be beneficial.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Physicaloxy


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