The research area of Drug Innovation is best described by the multidisciplinary collaboration of chemists, biologists, pharmacists, and biomedical and clinical scientists, in order to translate scientific hypotheses to products for care, cure and prevention of diseases. Within the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), we want to perform ground breaking, exploratory research in areas which are the supports of drug innovation: disease targets, bio-active molecules, drug targeting and action and evaluation. This will ultimately lead to the molecules, methods, concepts and approaches, which are so indispensable for the successful outcome of drug development in the pharmaceutical industry and medicines used in society.
Profile of prospective PhD candidates
The PhD programme is open to candidates having a Dutch or equivalent foreign MSc in Life Sciences (e.g. Pharmaceutical, Chemical or Biomedical Sciences). Depending on the research project the PhD student is entering, he/she should have the required theoretical and lab-skill background. PhD candidates should be team-players with good communication skills, should have a high degree of achievement drive and initiative and should have a good knowledge of English (both writing and speaking).
Mission of the training programme
The core task of UIPS is training effective, flexible and creative pharmaceutical scientists, who can create or quickly follow the trends in this field. UIPS wants to train specialists, with a firm understanding of the entire field of drug development.
The focus in drug development is shifting from small molecule blockbusters to the high hanging fruit of peptides, proteins, nucleotides and even more advanced medical products like (stem) cells. UIPS has been focusing on these high hanging fruits for 20 years. These bioinspired products offer major scientific challenges for translation. For example, the key success factor for gene therapy and exon skipping (at Uniqure and Prosensa/GSK) is successful delivery to cells. UIPS wants to train a new generation of excellent researchers, who can face this challenge of use-inspired fundamental research on bioinspired therapeutic solutions.
Areas of research at the Utrecht University
The research projects of the PhD students are focused on interdisciplinary research in the field of innovation and usage of drugs, biologicals and diagnostics. The underlying philosophy is a cyclic approach of starting with the disease; applying top chemistry to bring active molecules into a sequence of molecular and cellular characterization; developing delivery options; administering the drug within a clinical setting and to the population; and finally looping back real life experiences with medicines again into the discovery and development process. The scientific research centers on gene function and structure-function relationships of peptides and proteins with an emphasis on the development of new innovative concepts for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of important diseases (e.g. central nervous system, immune and infectious diseases). Translational research is, in this context, of vital importance to bring concepts from a molecular level to human use.