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Evaluating the suitability of novel colon-specific in vitro models to investigate drug disposition, metabolism and safety in medium to high-throughput setting hos KU Leuven

Utløper om 13 dager

The work will be performed at Janssen Pharmaceutica (Beerse, Belgium) in the Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) department, under the direct supervision of Dr. Stephanie Kourula and the supervision of Prof. Patrick Augustijns (KU Leuven). Janssen R&D, a member of Johnson & Johnsons Family of Companies, is recruiting for a Phd Student, for the Department of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK), located in Beerse, Belgium. At the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, what matters most is helping people live full and healthy lives. We focus on treating, curing and preventing some of the most devastating and complex diseases of our time. And we pursue the most promising science, wherever it might be found. Janssen Research & Development, discovers and develops innovative medical solutions to address important unmet medical needs in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and global public health. We are Janssen. Our mission drives us. Our patients inspire us. We collaborate with the world for the health of everyone in it. Thriving on a diverse company culture, celebrating the uniqueness of our employees and committed to inclusion. Proud to be an equal opportunity employer. KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the "Times Higher Education" ranking, and ranks #7 (top in Europe) in the "World’s Most Innovative Universities" ranking elaborated by Reuters. KU Leuven offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad range of training courses for PhD students, and full social and medical insurance.


  • The Department of Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) within Janssen is looking for a bright and enthusiastic PhD student interested in advancing her/his scientific career within a highly collaborative and cutting-edge research environment. The PhD student (early stage researcher, ESR) will be funded under the Horizon 2020/MSCA ITN Programme of the European Commission through the Innovation Training Network “COLOTAN”(Grant Agreement No 956851).
  • The successful candidate will be responsible for leading a new translational research project aimed to characterize novel models of the lower intestinal tract to eventually improve colon targeting of compounds.
  • The overarching goal of this 3-year project is to identify and characterize colon-specific in vitro models which enhance our mechanistic understanding how the colon and its environment plays a key role in drug disposition, safety and efficacy of novel therapeutic approaches.
  • Some expected deliverables are: 1) Identifying challenges and opportunities of each model; 2) Identifying models which allow in vitro to in vivo extrapolation of colonic drug disposition and safety; 3) A comparative data set of 2 – 3 novel colon-specific in vitro models addressing drug disposition, metabolism and toxicity; 4) Gaining deeper understanding of the interplay between the colonic epithelium and microbiome and how it affects drug disposition and safety.

Primary responsibilities of the applicant will include

  • Ability to independently determine study design, execution, data analysis and interpretation of in vitro studies. A strong interest in practical in vitro studies and a keen interest in troubleshooting will be vital to ensure successful completion of the project.
  • Basic theoretical knowledge and practical experience of culturing cell lines and primary cells, cell-based assays, drug transporter and enzymology assays.
  • The applicant displays a high degree of scientific curiosity and creativity required to tackle complex investigational hypotheses. A keen interest to acquire in-depth knowledge of literature is crucial for a successful project.
  • Ability to manage multiple divergent research lines without losing track of project timelines and project status. Good interpersonal skills are required to maintain efficient interactions with internal and external collaborators.
  • Experience in Pharmacokinetics is a plus. The applicant should be willing to gather in depth-knowledge of in vitro methodologies in (pre-) clinical drug development. Experience with analytical techniques (LC-MS/MS) is considered a plus as well.
  • Knowledge of the physiology of the digestive system is a plus.
  • Excellent organizational skills and knowledge of the English language is required (oral/written)


  • Applicants should possess a university degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Sciences or equivalent that qualifies them for doctoral studies
  • Strong Scientific interest with capability to perform independent research


The project is funded by a European Union H2020-MSCA-ITN grant.
It covers competitive salary, lab and conference expenses towards the completion of a PhD degree at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of KU Leuven.

We offer a fulltime PhD position for 2 years, extendable to 3 years after initial positive evaluation.


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