PhD Position: The Use of Biodegradable Nanocarriers for Targeted Delivery in the Preterm Lung KU Leuven Department of Imaging & Pathology Belgium



The research group of Dr. Manshian focuses on the development and validation of theranostic agents, where therapeutic and diagnostic applications are being studied simultaneously. The research group has a strong interest in the validation of novel therapeutic approaches in small animal models using non-invasive imaging methods. The research focuses on the in-vivo and in-vitro assessment of nanoparticles, with the main aim of unraveling bio-nano interactions to optimize their use for medical applications. The group has ample experience in evaluation of bio-nano interactions, focusing on (1) screening and mechanistic studies of nanoparticles with cultured cells and (2) in-vivo assessment of particle-tissue interactions in experimental models. Since his appointment at KU Leuven, Prof. Toelen has been establishing his research in the area of neonatal pulmonary disease. His research has resulted in a novel preterm rabbit pup model for studies into hyperoxia induced lung injury. To date, the model has been successfully employed to test 4 clinically relevant drugs (caffeine, omeprazole, rosiglitazone and statins). He and his research team endeavour to use these findings to move into clinical testing. Accordingly, the main focus of this research project will lie in the use of nanocarriers for drug delivery to the lung and in-vitro and in-vivo imaging modalities for the follow up studies.



The overall aim of the present project lies in the use of nanocarriers for the delivery of steroids to the preterm lung in a rabbit pup bronchopulmonary dysplasia model.  The system is based on cellular hitchhiking of polymer nanocarriers and microbubbles.

In order to achieve this overall aim, the present project is divided into different sub-objectives:


Involvement in the development of steroid loaded polymer nanocarriers and microbubbles for optimal delivery (this is a supportive role in the preparation of nanocarrieres which will be performed in conjunction with expert collaborators in the field).

In-vitro toxicity screening in various human and animal cell lines.

Use of microscopy systems for the imaging of cells.

In-vivo evaluation of biodistribution, clearance and targeting in a murine and preterm rabbit model using in-vivo imaging modalities such as optical imaging and fluorine MRI.

Preparation of hisitological samples, RT-PCR, ELISA, etc.



Candidates must have a master degree in the field of bio-engineering, biomedical sciences, medicine, or equivalent.

The candidate has excellent communication skills in written and spoken English.

He/she is highly motivated to work in a multidisciplinary research team, as well as independently, has an open communication style and has a problem-solving attitude.

He/she is willing to be involved in animal experiments and willing to stay abroad (6 months research stay in the USA, Harvard University).



  • The candidate will have access to state-of-the-art technologies and a rich training environment.
  • We offer a fully funded PhD position. Initial contract is for 1 year and will be extended to full 4 years following the candidate's successful first year evaluation assessment.



For more information please contact Dr. Bella Manshian at

You can apply for this job no later than January 30, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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