ESR position 4 – Umeå University

Monolithic MIPs for protein and peptide biomarkers

Host Institute

Department of Chemistry, Umeå University

Host Country


Start date

During the period November 1, 2016 – February 28, 2017.

The candidate will be employed at the Department of Chemistry, Umeå University  and will be enrolled in the PhD program of the department with Prof. Knut Irgum as the main supervisor.

Project description

A major challenge in the war against cancer is to find ways to diagnose and treat the disease at an early stage where the cancer is still curable. This calls for sensitive and effective diagnostic tools that can sense the cellular state early in the process.  In this project you will develop monolithic capture materials targeting protein post translational modifications (PTMs: phosphorylation and glycosylation) and peptide biomarkers.  Among the more than 300 different types of PTMs only a handful have been extensively investigated at the proteome level. This is largely due to the lack of efficient affinity-based enrichment techniques causing several of the modifications to escape detection.

In this project you will make use of polymer grafting procedures to develop monolithic separation media in online formats with molecularly imprinted polymeric (MIP) surface layers, designed to show specific affinity for the target structures. You will join the separation materials group at the department where your responsibility will be to prepare porous monolithic substrates in the capillary column format by a variety of techniques including surface modification by polymer grafting, in order to produce materials with selective sorption properties suitable for trapping of peptide biomarkers or proteins carrying the above-mentioned PTMs at high efficiency. Among your tasks will also be to carry out initial quality control tests of the synthesized materials in house. The polymers will thereafter be passed on to academic and industrial partners with expertise in proteomics who will use them as plastic antibodies for PTM specific capture and detection.  We expect your work to result in unique affinity tools filling a gap in modification specific proteomics.

The project will include secondments that will allow you to work with and oversee the implementation of the materials and to gain insight into academic and industrial work environments. The foreseen secondments (each of 1-2 month duration) are to Lund University (SE) for training in microanalytical techniques, Biotage, Lund (SE) for training in industrial preparation of synthetic antibodies, Linnæus University, Kalmar (Sweden) and Pavia University (Italy) for theoretical modeling and characterization, and University of Oslo for training in utilization of trapping of translationally modified proteins and peptides in µLC-MS.

Apart from carrying out research within these areas the applicant is expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of instruments and other routine tasks of the group as well as to supervise students at the BSc or MSc level and will have the opportunity to take part in teaching.  The candidate will be enrolled in the 4 year PhD-program at the Department of Chemistry and will be expected to complete a PhD including completion of local academic and network wide training requirements. The research topic is “Analytical Chemistry” and the Faculty examines Doctors of Philosophy.

Group description

The separation materials group at Umeå university has been active for quarter of a century developing separation materials for analytical and preparative chromatography. Areas where we are active is in synthesis of polymeric monolithic separation entities and in surface modification of these and of silica with a variety of technologies including click chemistry and controlled graft polymerization. Materials developed in our group are used as benchmarks in hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC), and we have a long experience in entrepreneurial activities related to analytical chemistry. Molecular imprinting is an area where we have been active for nearly fifteen years, where our specialty is establishment of molecular recognition by graft polymerization on porous monolithic substrates. The activities are carried out in the Department of Chemistry, which has more than 200 employees covering all traditional chemistry areas and chemical technology. The department is in turn part of the Chemical Biology Center, where molecular sciences ranging from physics to biology are cooperating closely.

Institute description

Umeå University is located a dynamic city with 120,000 inhabitants in the Northern part of Sweden where more than 4,200 employees are dedicated to creative learning environments for more than 31,000 students. The university offers a wide variety of courses and programs, world leading research, and excellent opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

Our ideal candidate and formal requirements

The successful candidate will have a masters’ degree (or equivalent) in chemistry or chemical technology, preferably focused on organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, or analytical chemistry. Documented experience in experimental laboratory work is required and candidates with skills that are directly related to the research topic of the position outlined above will be given preference. Selection of applicants who meet the formal requirements is made based on the ability to benefit from the training. Specific for the EC Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN program, is that candidates are not eligible for a training position in a country where they have had residence for twelve months or more during three years prior to hiring.

Working conditions and benefits

The candidate will become an employee of the Department of Chemistry and receive a competitive monthly gross salary in accordance with the EC Marie Sklodowska-Curie rules. The contract period will last for 4 years.


For more information on this position, contact the hiring party: Prof. Knut Irgum

Phone +46-(0)90-7865997

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