PhD project: Development and preclinical evaluation of innovative NANOBODY®-based radioprobes for imaging and targeted radionuclide therapy

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


July 11, 2021


PhD project: Development and preclinical evaluation of innovative

NANOBODY®-based radioprobes for imaging and targeted radionuclide therapy

(ref. BAP-2021-446)

Last modification : Monday, June 7, 2021

The work will be performed in the laboratory for Radiopharmaceutical Research under the direct supervision of Prof. G. Bormans and Prof. F. Cleeren (www. and in the facilities of Ablynx (www. The lab of radiopharmaceutical research is equipped with all the necessary state-of-the-art equipment for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. For the pre-clinical validation of novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiotracers in small animals, dedicated imaging instrumentation can be accessed at the Molecular Small Animal Imaging Centre (MoSAIC, https: // Novel radiopharmaceuticals are translated to the clinic in direct collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (NMMI) unit of the University Hospital (UZ) Leuven. 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. https://

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Ablynx, a Sanofi company, is engaged in the development of NANOBODY® proteins, proprietary therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments, which combine the advantages of conventional antibody drugs with some of the features of small-molecule drugs. NANOBODY® proteins have potential uses in the treatment of a range of serious and life-threatening human diseases.

The laboratory for Radiopharmaceutical Research, together with Ablynx, will submit a Baekeland PhD project (Vlaio) based on the development and preclinical evaluation of innovative NANOBODY®-based radioprobes. We are currently looking for a motivated PhD student to embark on a 4-year PhD project. The candidate will be involved in the project application process and is expected to defend the project for the Vlaio review board (October- November, 2021). The project will involve, but is not limited to, organic synthesis, various analytical techniques (NMR, HPLC, HRMS, …), radiochemistry with diagnostic and therapeutic radionuclides, in vitro cell work and biological assays, in vivo imaging studies in small animals, therapeutic efficacy studies in tumor models. The work will be partially conducted in Ablynx and in the laboratory for Radiopharmaceutical Research.

  • Master degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Master of Science in Bioengineering, Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, Master of Science in Biochemistry, or equivalent. Students in their final master year can also apply.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment
  • Ability to write clear scientific reports and disseminate results
  • Good oral, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Appetite for innovation and transforming research results into industrial applications
  • You will engage yourself with enthusiasm and perseverance to a four-year research project
  • You are ambitious, dynamic, flexible and take an open attitude towards problems and evolutions
  • Offer

    We offer a fulltime PhD position for 1 year, extendable to 4 years after initial positive evaluation. You will have to apply for a Baekeland mandate (including evaluation stage) which will be supported by both the laboratory for Radiopharmaceutical Research and Ablynx.

    Training in safe handling of radioactive compounds and small animal handling is provided.


    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Frederik Cleeren, tel.: +32 16 37 72 37, mail:

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at