PhD Position in Mechanistic in Silico Modelling of Colonic Drug Absorption

Catholic University of Leuven Department in Pharmaceutical Technology and Development

The work will be performed at AstraZeneca (Sweden), under the direct supervision of Dr. Christer Tannergren and the supervision of Prof. Patrick Augustijns (KULeuven). AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Technology and Development (PT&D) in Gothenburg, Sweden is the organization, which turns brilliant science into actual medicines that help millions of people. We work across the entire value chain, designing and delivering active ingredients, formulations and devices for new medicines and providing expert technical support to all AstraZeneca’s commercial drug substances and products to ensure we successfully supply medicines to patients. In Oral Product Department, a department in Pharmaceutical Technology and Development, we focus on the design and development of commercial products and processes, contribute to new product introductions and continuous improvement of launched products. We work across several therapy and disease areas developing a wide range of oral and parenteral products including, e.g., immediate release and controlled release oral dosage forms of small molecules as well as delivery systems for new modalities and synthetic biomolecules. KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the "Times Higher Education" ranking, and ranks #7 (top in Europe) in the "World’s Most Innovative Universities" ranking elaborated by Reuters. KU Leuven offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad range of training courses for PhD students, and full social and medical insurance.


Limited colon absorption is a key factor why controlled release formulation development may fail. In addition, it has been recognized by regulatory agencies that in silico prediction of colon absorption is a gap in the current Biopharmaceutics modelling & simulation capability to predict the in vivo performance of controlled release products.

The overall objective of this project is to develop a new mechanistic in silico model for colonic drug absorption. The in silico model development and validation work will be performed using the AstraZeneca inhouse developed PBBM/PBPK tool GI-SIM, but work may also be performed in commercially available softwares like GastroPlus. This will provide a versatile platform for testing a variety of hypotheses leading to a novel predictive model. Factors that will be considered are colonic dissolution, quantitate solubility data in different biorelevant media including simulated colonic fluids, binding of drugs to components in the colon (e.g. fibers, bacteria), drug degradation by bacteria, distribution and transit effects caused by convection induced by intestinal motility. A unique database with human regional absorption data and an established input parameter dataset from AstraZeneca will allow validation of the new model. The improved understanding generated in the other Colotan ESRs will also provide unique input for the model development. The successful candidate will join a Product Development Modelling & Simulation Team throughout the project as well as being part of the Global Biopharmaceutics community within AstraZeneca to ensure all the necessary support is provided.


  • Profile: Master degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Sciences
  • Research experience: Master thesis work and/or experience in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences
  • Communication skills: Ability to work both independently and in a team, direct communication style. Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory.


The project is funded by a European Union H2020-MSCA-ITN grant. 

It covers competitive salary, lab and conference expenses towards the completion of a PhD degree at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of KU Leuven.

We offer a fulltime PhD position for 2 years,extendable to 3 years after initial positive evaluation.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Patrick Augustijns, tel.: +32 16 33 03 01, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than November 30, 2020 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: November 30, 2020
  • Tags: Farmaceutische en Farmacologische Wetenschappen