PhD fellowship in Drug Delivery: Overcoming the skin barrier using a multiple prodrugs approach

Department of Pharmacy

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND)

University of Copenhagen

The Department of Pharmacy is offering a three-year PhD fellowship in drug delivery to skin. The PhD fellowship is financed by the LEO Foundation as part of the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery (LFCCDD) to which the project is affiliated. The successful applicant will be a member of the Pharmaceutical Physical Chemistry group and will have the opportunities for cross-disciplinary research in collaboration with the other sections of the Center as well as external collaborators.

The fellowship is available from 1st of September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project description

Topical application is a minimally invasive, attractive route of drug administration. Unfortunately, the skin constitutes a formidable barrier to drug delivery, limiting the number of substances that can be delivered. Via improved understanding of the interplay between the physical chemical forces governing membrane transport, we aim to expand the number of drugs that can be delivered effectively to the skin. We take a physical chemical approach to improving skin transport exploring a novel multiple prodrug approach. We will focus on the thermodynamic activity of the drug, prodrugs (chemical derivatives of diclofenac), and the vehicles applied, which is the driving force for transport. Basic physical chemistry dictates that the transport of a molecule is unaffected by the presence of other molecules. This opens for simultaneous administration of multiple prodrugs for increasing the “operational” thermodynamic activity and, hence, driving force of drug transport. However, high prodrug concentrations will affect solvent thermodynamic activity. Hence, the concept provides a tool for separating molecular, solvent, and membrane effects on transport. The prodrug approach will be explored via transport studies over artificial membranes and human skin pursuing conditions allowing delineation of solvent, membrane interactions, and supersaturation effects. Incorporation of multiple molecules/prodrugs in a delivery vehicle for application to skin represents a new approach, which may be exploited, e.g., in treatment of pain and inflammation or actinic keratosis.

Principal supervisor
Professor Jesper Østergaard, Department of Pharmacy, e-mail:, direct phone: +45 3533 6138

Place of employment

The place of employment is at the Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions and a dynamic and international research environment. The mission of Department of Pharmacy is to advance the pharmaceutical sciences by performing drug-related research and research-based teaching in topics including pharmaceutical technology and formulation, drug delivery, advanced drug analysis, and clinical and social pharmacy.

Information about the Department can be found at

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences are to:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Participate in the undergraduate teaching of students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Participate in national and international conferences and scientific meetings
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your research project

Required qualifications
As an applicant you must have:

  • Obtained a relevant  Master’s degree prior to the starting date
  • Fluency in English and excellent communication skills
  • The ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment

As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

Preferred qualifications
We are looking for a highly motivated individual with a background in pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, chemical engineering, or similar. Experience in drug delivery system design and preparation, and/or characterization using a variety of analytical techniques will be preferred. The candidate must be able to work independently, but shall also interact with a multidisciplinary project group involved in many aspects of studying and evaluating drug delivery. Extensive training in the relevant disciplines will be provided.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant work experience
  • Publications
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities and achievements
  • Language skills
  • The successful applicant is also required to be enterprising and to possess good interpersonal skills

Terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project to the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.

The PhD student is expected to be affiliated to the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around DKK 27,800 (approx. 3,700 EUR) (taxable) plus pension (October 2021 level).


For further information, applicants may contact the principal supervisor Jesper Østergaard, e-mail:, direct phone: +45 3533 6138 or PhD coordinator Marianne W. Jørgensen, e-mail:, direct phone: +45 3533 6449.

General information about PhD studies at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

For more information on working and living in Denmark visit (International staff mobility) and

Application procedure

Your application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking “Apply now” below and must include the following documents in PDF format:

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • Diploma and transcripts of records: Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish (including grade transcripts for bachelor´s and master´s degrees). If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do. Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Other information to consider: References and recommendations (if possible)

The application deadline is 1st of June 2022, 23.59 pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The University of Copenhagen wish to reflect the diversity of society and encourage all qualified candidates to apply regardless of personal background.

The further process

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews are expected to be held in the end of June.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-06-2022
Employment start: 01-09-2022
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Pharmacy
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