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Postdoctoral position in biological physics

Department of Physics at Chalmers - home of the Graphene Flagship
Stimulated by major needs and challenges in science and a sustainable society, the ambition of the department of Physics is to foster a creative environment for academic research, learning and outreach. We provide a competitive advantage by linking our top-level international and interdisciplinary academic performance in the areas of material science, nanotechnology and energy research with world-leading industrial R&D&I projects.

We address a wide array of experimental, computational, methodological and theoretical challenges, from fundamental physics research, through the development of new materials such as graphene to direct industrial projects generating new inventions. We have a strong learning commitment on all levels from undergraduate to PhD studies where physics meet engineering. We are situated in a stimulating and creative environment with newly renovated facilities. The department is the major part of Gothenburg Physics Centre – a collaboration between five departments at Chalmers and Gothenburg University.

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Information about the project 
The aim of this research project is to determine the internal structure of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) for drug delivery, mainly si RNA and mRNA theraputics. Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) have evolved into smart multifunctional carriers for drug delivery, most notably in the thriving field of siRNA and mRNA therapeutics. Characterization of LNP bulk and in particular surface structure is of major importance to understand their interactions and therapeutic function. However, a structural determination of complex lipid-based nanoparticles with entrapped RNA and other biomacromolecules is challenging due to their size, intrinsic disorder, hierarchical structure at different length scales, low lipid-RNA contrast and fast dynamics. Standard analysis using approximate analytical scattering functions fail to unravel important details like phase separated surface domains, the structure of the interior bulk phase and the conformation of the encapsulated RNA macromolecules. Therefore, the main aim of this Postdoctoral project is to combine small-angle neutron and x-ray scattering (SANS and SAXS) experiments at large-scale facilities with the development of new novel Monte Carlo based data analysis tools to obtain new knowledge on the structure of LNPs, not possible with present experimental and modelling strategies. This will establish not only basic understanding of structures but allow for rational design of new delivery vehicles for e.g. RNA with unsurpassed performance.

The position is funded by the Swedish-German Röntgen Ångström Cluster MEDISOFT.

Major responsibilities
The successful candidate will work on this research topic in a relatively large research team, with participants from Lund University, Uppsala University, MAX-IV and ESS and the German partners at Ludwig Maximillians University, Munich; MPI for Biophysics Frankfurt and Jülich Center for Neutron Scattering at MLZ, Garching. The main responsibility of the candidate will be to develop a Monte Carlo based modelling tool to produce structural models of the LNPs in quantitative agreement with the available SANS and SAXS data. The candidate will also participate in the SANS and SAXS experiments.

Position summary
Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of two years (1+1, the extension to 2 years is decided after 8 months). The exact salary depends on the qualifications of the successful candidate.

To qualify for the position of postdoc, you must have a doctoral degree in physics, chemistry or related fields. The degree should generally not be older than three years. Excellent language skills in English are required. Chalmers offers Swedish courses.

Specific qualifications of particular importance for the project are:
a) Previous experience of using different scattering techniques (particularly SANS and SAXS) and analysing the resulting data.
(b) Previous experience of computational modelling of structure and dynamics, by e.g. Monte Carlo or molecular dynamics (MD) based simulations.
(c) Previous experience of software developments, particularly Monte Carlo or MD based simulation tools.

Chalmers continuously strives to be an attractive employer. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Our offer to you
Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the dynamic city of Gothenburg. 
Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Application deadline: 22 February, 2019


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