PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Miniaturizing science while maximizing impact: microfluidics for improved production of targeted drug treatments
Currently in the spotlight as a vital component to the packaging of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, lipid-based vesicles play a key role in effectively protecting and transporting mRNA to cells. Liposomes represent self-assembled lipid-based drug vesicles that are a versatile nanomedicine delivery platform. The foremost challenges in the development of liposomes for drug delivery lie in controlling their nominal size and size distribution, encapsulation efficiency, and functionalized ratio, as these factors wield considerable influence over pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution, and drug clearance.
Microfluidic technology has garnered substantial attention in both synthesizing and purifying micron and sub-micron sized liposomes. It offers the advantage of producing a monodisperse suspension of particles of controlled size, facilitating the removal of unencapsulated drugs, and enabling the separation of functional liposomes from unfunctional ones within continuous microfluidic flow systems. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge to produce liposomes in uniform sizes of a particular dimension with a narrow size distribution. Additionally, the precise separation of particles with subtle size (submicron) differences, specifically distinguishing drug loaded liposomes from unloaded ones, functional liposomes from unfunctional ones, is still poorly understood.
The objective of this project is to develop a high-throughput microfluidic system for the production of liposomes based on continuous flow. To accomplish this objective, we will employ microfluidics with both active and passive approaches, conduct comprehensive numerical simulations, optimization techniques, high-resolution 3D fabrication, and controlled experiments. At the conclusion of this project, we will arrive to gain a fundamental understanding of the aforementioned issues and ultimately refine the optimal design of the microfluidic device.
This exceptional opportunity offers students the chance to do research in a dynamic, innovative team specializing in microfluidics for life science applications. The student will have the opportunity to acquire extensive expertise across various application domains in the stimulating and interdisciplinary atmosphere at IMEC, providing valuable insights into the industry. We expect that the students will allocate 50% of their time to modeling and numerical simulation tasks, 40% to experimental activities included device microfabrication and testing, and 10% to literature review and publication-related activities. Prospective candidates should possess a background in Engineering or Physics, and preferably, prior experience in applying numerical methods to the field of fluid mechanics.
Required background: Engineering Science or Physics
Type of work: 50% modeling/simulation, 40% experimental, 10% literature
Supervisor: Liesbet Lagae
Daily advisor: Guiquan Wang
The reference code for this position is 2024-129. Mention this reference code on your application form.