Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
In our research group in the Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles, we design smart stimuli-responsive (nano)-materials that can be applied as diagnostic tools or as controlled drug delivery systems aiming to improve the management of infected wounds. Our group is focused on: i) Developing novel fluorescent-based detection approaches. For this purpose, we synthesized nanomaterials whose fluorescent signal changes in response to the presence of bacteria, exploiting the so-called 'indirect method'. ii) Achieving temporal and spatial controlled drug release systems through stimuli-responsive materials. In this case, we synthesize nanoparticles that are degraded upon specific stimuli (e.g. pH, enzymatic activity, light) leading to a controlled release of the loaded drugs.
Project Background and description
Project Background: Wound healing is a complex process in which a cascade of physiological events takes place to restore injured skin to its full functionality. The presence of bacteria in the wound impairs the healing process leading to persistent inflammatory lesions, chronic wounds, and, worst-case scenario to sepsis. Due to the often inappropriate wound management and the increased number of multidrug-resistance strains, infected wounds represent a concerning burden for global health, with high costs due to the required long hospitalization. It is therefore imperative to develop alternative highly efficient treatments and improve wound management. Empa will start a large research project aiming at the design of a precision, self-care integrated system to completely understand, simulate, and monitor skin wound evolution, with the ultimate aim to treat and even prevent chronic wounds. We will couple an in vitro analytical, omics-based plat-form to self-care wearables for spatiotemporal wound monitoring and patient-specific, timely wound treatment.
Project description: In this project, we will continue the research described above. We will design novel nanomaterials to achieve fluorescent-based indirect approaches to detect bacteria and to achieve stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems. For this purpose, we will mainly exploit the advantage offered by silica nanoparticles, such as biocompatibility, easy functionalization, and versatile formulation that allow obtaining nanoparticles that can respond to different stimuli (e.g. enzymes, temperature, pH, light). The detection and stimuli-responsive release will be evaluated by enzymatic and kinetic analytical experiments mimicking physiological conditions.
The candidate should have a strong background in Chemistry or Nanomaterials Science. We are looking for a highly motivated person capable of working in a multidisciplinary environment, driven by scientific curiosity, and open to learning new topics. The Ph.D. candidate needs to be proficient in spoken and written English and have a Master's degree.S/he will participate in writing scientific publications and presenting data at national and international scientific conferences.
Previous experience in one or more of the following topics is required: nanomaterial synthesis and characterization, surface functionalization chemistries, spectrophotometric analysis, analysis of releases kinetics, and biological assay.
The work will be carried out at Empa St. Gallen under the supervision of Dr. Giorgia Giovannini. The PhD student will be affiliated at ETH Zürich (Prof. René Rossi).
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Personalleiterin Empa St. Gallen / Head Human Resources Empa St. Gallen