Novo Nordisk Foundation PhD student in Downstream Processing for Extraction and Purification of Biochemicals produced by Bacterial Cell Factories

Monday 25 Apr 22

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If you are an ambitious chemical or biochemical engineer who would like to develop your career on a solid basis of knowledge of unit operations for separation and purification of novel bioproducts with high interest at industrial level, this position funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation is the perfect one to fulfill your dreams and ambitions.

Biomanufacturing is one of the fastest growing fields and a driver for the transition from a fossil-based to a circular bio-based economy and a sustainable future. If you would like to become an expert in this strategically important interdisciplinary field and contribute to the green transition, we have an opportunity for you.

The departments of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (CfB) at the Technical University of Denmark offer a position as a PhD student in the field of downstream processing of biologically-produced compounds. The project will address the question of how to develop efficient extraction and purification of new molecules produced by cell factories, covering the whole spectrum from process design to scale-relevant production and purification. This position will be hosted at the Center for Process and Systems Engineering in close collaboration with the Systems Environmental Microbiology laboratory at CfB working with separation and purification unit operations, particularly solid-liquid extraction, at lab and pilot plant scale. This PhD project is part of the PhD Program of the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing (FBM) Initiative at DTU where we educate true biomanufacturing experts with interdisciplinary competences in cell factory-engineering and process engineering with a strong focus on industrial applications.

The FBM Initiative is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and under this initiative, scientists from DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Bioengineering, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability work together to engineer new or optimized production hosts or processes and solve the interdisciplinary challenges of large-scale bioproduction. The FBM Initiative’s research infrastructure includes a well-equipped fermentation core with an automation and high-throughput micro-fermentation unit, a pre-pilot plant and a pilot plant. Located in the Copenhagen area, one of the world's strongest biotech hubs, DTU’s FBM Initiative offers a unique and internationally leading education and research environment with exceptional conditions for biotech career starters.

This is one of 7 PhD student positions available on the FBM PhD program this year. The expected starting date is 1st of July 2022.

Responsibilities and qualifications
Your overall focus will be to strengthen the department’s competences within the field of downstream processing, with special focus on the development of novel or improved solid-liquid extraction strategies for separation or purification of intracellular products after fermentation. You will work with nearby colleagues, and with both academic and industrial partners in Denmark as well as abroad.

Your primary tasks will be to:

  • Explore and develop new methods or strategies for solid-liquid extraction and separation of commercial products contained in bacterial cells after fermentation at different scales.
  • Design process for high-yield recovery of biocompounds in a green and sustainable fashion.
  • Operate pilot plant equipment and optimize conditions towards recovery and purification of the targeted compounds
  • Teach and supervise B.Sc. and M.Sc. student projects.

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) on Chemical or Biochemical Engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. The candidate must have previous experience in downstream processing or handling of unit operations, preferably extraction, and preferably at lab and pilot plant scale. Previous experience with handling bio-based compounds and/or purification protocols will be also positively assessed.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.  

The applications will be assessed based on the qualifications, academic and personal skills of the candidates.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.   

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Manuel Pinelo (

You can read more about the Department of Chemical Engineering at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark. Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 20 May 2022 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. Applications sent via email will not be considered. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale

Incomplete applications will not be considered. You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

At the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering it is our main objective to meet today’s industrial challenges and create value through education, innovation and research. DTU Chemical Engineering’s main activities lie within the areas of product design, process design and production in the chemical, biotechnological, pharmaceutical, food technological and energy technological industries. 

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 13,400 students and 5,800 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.