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Postdoctoral Researcher in physical and colloidal chemistry with focus on molecular aspects of the skin barrier

Malmo

Ref REK 2022/332

About Malmö University

Malmö University is an innovative, urban and international institute of higher education, located in the centre of Malmö. We have around 1,800 employees and 24,000 students. Our research and education are characterised by the role we believe a university should play in an open society — to contribute to sustainability and equality in a scientifically grounded way with external partners and stakeholders. Identifying and addressing the challenges of the future are of highest priority. Our researchers and students work collaboratively to create, share and spread knowledge in order to understand, explain and develop society — both locally and globally.

Department

The Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health and Society, offers a program leading to a professional qualification, Biomedical Scientist (first cycle, 180 credits), and a Masters’ program, Biomedical Surface Science (second cycle, 120 credits), as well as first and second cycle freestanding courses. The Department negotiates the multifaceted intersection between biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, and technology and the interdisciplinary approach to research and education aims to further the theoretical and practical understanding of the complex subject matter. Drawing on the balance between pure and applied research, the Department has been successful in attracting funding from regional, national, and international research funding bodies.

The research at the faculty is also linked to the research center Biofilms – Research Center for Biointerfaces, which combines biomedical science with clinical and translational research in medical, dental, food and environmental application areas in close collaboration with regional industry.

Work duties

We are offering at least one position as postdoctoral researcher

The research activities will be conducted in a network of academic, industrial, and clinical partners within a newly funded project entitled Biobarriers – Health, Disorders and Healing. The general vision of the research project is to improve health and healing of biological barriers by modernizing clinical treatments and products based on molecular level knowledge. In particular, the aim of this project is to investigate how molecular and biophysical aspects of the skin barrier are influenced by excipients and/or formulations. Based on this knowledge, the candidate should be able to relate obtained findings to clinical treatments and industrial products aiming at improving skin health and/or preventing defects and disorders of the skin barrier.   

The outermost layer of the skin organ is called the stratum corneum (SC) and is responsible for the skin barrier, which effectively restricts both inward and outward diffusion of most molecules and thus upholds the water balance and protects us from harmful substances entering the body. The SC is normally exposed to dry and cold climate of the external environment. Therefore, it is not surprising that the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is produced spontaneously in the skin barrier. These molecules are known to be beneficial for dry skin and certain skin diseases, such as winter xerosis and atopic dermatitis, and therefore used in commercial skin care products. We have previously shown that addition of this kind of molecules to the skin alters the molecular mobility of the SC lipid and protein components by retaining the dynamical properties associated with a more hydrated SC membrane at dehydrating conditions. Thus, by retaining the fluidity of the SC components on a molecular level, at reduced hydration conditions, NMF molecules can potentially act to maintain a healthy, soft, and pliable skin barrier.

This hypothesis will be investigated in more detail by investigating a selection of scientifically and commercially relevant excipients and/or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The main goal is to clarify the relationship between: 

  1. the permeability behavior of topically applied excipients/APIs at specified concentrations and characterization of their concentrations in the SC, and
  2. the effect of excipients/APIs on the molecular/biophysical properties of the SC components (e.g., molecular mobility and structural arrangements of keratin filaments and extracellular lipids).

The foreseen knowledge obtained in this project is important for understanding what kind of mechanisms that are important for maintaining an intact skin barrier and how to avoid factors leading to a defective barrier. With increased understanding, it will be possible to explore the beneficial effects of excipients and/or APIs in a scientifically robust manner. 

The work is expected to include both in vitro and in vivo methodology where pig or human skin is used as in vitro models, while examination of human skin in vivo is conducted on healthy or diseased human subjects after granted ethical permission. Documented writing and approval of ethical permissions is therefore a valued benefit for applicants. Further, considering that the project requires collaboration between academic, industrial, and clinical partners, it is expected that the applicant actively communicates and collaborate within this context. Documented project management and leadership abilities are therefore valued. 

Apart from carrying out research within this project, the applicant is expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of the instruments involved and to be active by supervising graduate and postgraduate students and fellow scientists in the techniques and participate in teaching at graduate and postgraduate levels. In addition, the applicant will be expected to take part in applications for external funding to support research activities. 

Qualifications

Candidates must have demonstrated scientific competence corresponding to a doctoral degree. The ideal candidate holds a master’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, or chemical engineering, and has completed a doctoral education focusing on the skin barrier and/or topical or transdermal drug delivery. Hands-on experience in some of the following methods is highly valued: in vitro permeability studies with Franz cells or similar, characterization of the skin barrier in vivo (e.g., TEWL, corneometry, tape-stripping, electrochemical measurements, etc.), solution or solid-state NMR, small- and wide-angle X-ray diffraction/scattering, HPLC with spectrophotometry and/or mass spectroscopy detection, electrochemical measurements and sensing. The candidate should also have the ability to work in a team and collaborate with people in complementary disciplines, both from academia and industry. In particular, the candidate will be responsible for organizing and lead monthly meetings with academic and industrial collaboration partners.

Assessment criteria

Accordning to the Appointment Rules at Malmö University, the assessment crieteria for a position as Postdoctor are:

  • The quality and focus of the doctoral thesis
  • Research activities within fields relevant to the appointment in question
  • Documented ability to independently conduct research of a sufficient standard
  • Reflective presentation of their own pedagogical outlook and practices
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate and collaborate with actors in other parts of society with a connection to education and research

Further information

Sebastian Björklund, +46 (0)40 6657891, Sebastian.Bjorklund@mau.se

Application

You may apply for this position via Malmö University’s recruitment system by clicking on the “Apply” button. As an applicant, you are responsible for ensuring that your application is completed in accordance with the advertisement, and that it is provided to the University no later than 2023-02-20. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the University can read what is written in the application. If the application is not written in Swedish, English or any of the Nordic languages, the applicant is responsible for the application and its appendices being translated. 

Recruitment is ongoing, so we strongly suggest you apply as soon as possible.

The qualifications should be documented with guidance from Qualifications portfolio for lecturers/researchers at Malmö University. 

See also Appointment Rules at Malmö University.

The application must include:

  1. Cover letter with a motivation for applying to this position
  2. A brief summary of scientific, teaching (e.g., developed teaching materials), and other qualifications relevant to the position
  3. Attested copies of certificates
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  5. List of scientific publications and a written text specifying the applicant’s role in each publication
  6. Copy of doctoral dissertation or equivalent
  7. Copies of three of your most relevant scientific publications
  8. At least two references with names, titles/positions, relation to you, and contact information.

Miscellaneous

This is a full-time, fixed-term employment of one-year position.

The position can be prolonged beyond the first year. At Malmö University, individual salary negotiations apply.

The period of employment is determined in accordance with the agreement “Avtal om tidsbegränsad anställning som postdoktor” (“Agreement on fixed-term employment as a post-doctoral fellow”) between Swedish Agency for Government Employers, SACO-S, OFR/S and SEKO, dated 4 September 2008.

Malmö University is a workplace and higher education institution that is characterised by an open and inclusive approach, where gender equality and equal terms add value to our activities.

Malmö University applies individual salary setting.

Start date

Starting as soon as possible 

Union representatives

SACO-S: Ann-Mari Campbell, ann-mari.campbell@mau.se

Lärarförbundet: Peter Persson, peter.persson@mau.se

OFR/S (ST): Naser Eftekharian, naser.eftekharian@mau.se

We are looking forward to receiving your application!

You apply no later than 20/02/2023 by clicking the apply button.

Read the job description at the university homepage

Apply

Post expires on Monday February 20th, 2023