Several PhD candidates in “targeted membrane fusion using a supramolecular approach” at the Faculty of Science, Leiden Institute of Chemistry. Several PhD positions are available in the research team of Dr. Alexander Kros working on membrane fusion. The project – funded by a NWO-VICI grant – is aimed to design a biomimetic model system able to induce for the first time in-vivo membrane fusion and study its mechanism.

Introduction: Fusion of lipid bilayers in cells facilitates the active transport of chemicals. Inspired by SNARE-mediated fusion, we are developing a model system able to in-vivo induce fusion. The model system consists of a complementary pair of lipidated peptides able to form a heterodimeric coiled coil motif at the membrane interface similar to natural fusion proteins. The mechanism of membrane fusion will be studied using biophysical techniques, with an emphasis on peptide-peptide and peptide-lipid interactions.

Furthermore, membrane fusion between liposomes and live cells will be studied using optimized model systems. Here, it will be a major challenge to achieve efficient and targeted liposome transport directly into the cytoplasm of cells, circumventing endocytotic pathways. The ultimate goal of this project is to achieve targeted in-vivo fusion of liposomes in zebrafish controlled by the biomimetic model system. Future applications are foreseen in drug delivery and membrane engineering. For this exciting interdisciplinary research project we collaborate with renowned experts in peptide chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, biology and biophysics.

Vacancy number: 15-297

Requirements / Selection criteria

• A recent MSc degree in Chemistry, Life Sciences, or Biology (or equivalent);
• Ability to perform research independently;
• Ability to collaborate with other disciplines;
• Good communication skills;
• Good proficiency in the English language (both oral and written);
• Preferably experience in one or more of the following areas: peptide chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, cell culture, zebrafish, drug delivery;
• Excellent grades and references.

Organisation / Institution

The Faculty of Science teaches more than 2,600 students in the context of 8 bachelor’s and 11 master’s programmes. Working at the Faculty of Science means being part of an exciting, dynamic scientific environment which sets high standards for its students, staff and support staff alike. The Faculty is known for its friendly and team-spirited atmosphere, which promotes mutual exchange of knowledge. For more information, see

The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. Our environment and quality of life is largely determined by chemistry, therefore research at the forefront of molecular and the life sciences is of utmost importance for our future. For example, the next generation of solar cells or batteries, and the improvement of existing as well as the development of new drugs rely on smart chemical solutions. Knowledge of catalysis, synthesis and biological processes on molecular scale will enable us to discover novel processes and products that range from new materials to pharmaceuticals.

The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

Terms and conditions

The successful applicant will be offered a full-time (1.0 fte) position, initially for a period of 12 months, with latest starting date January 2016. Usually (after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility and if progress is satisfactory) the appointment will be extended by a further three years. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis and will be under the terms of the CAO (collective labor agreement) of Dutch Universities.


The gross monthly salary is set at € 2.125,- in the first year, increasing to € 2.717,- gross per month in year four. An appointment with Leiden University includes a contributory pension scheme and other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax concession.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Further information

Enquiries can be made to Dr. Alexander Kros: Information about the Leiden Institute of Chemistry can be found at, and about Leiden University at

How to Applications

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Ms. Michelle van der Haar, Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number (15-297):
• Letter of motivation;
• Your resume (incl. transcripts of grades and a list of publications);
• Names and contact information of at least two references.

Deadline: Only applications received before November 1st, 2015 can be considered.