STI- PhD position – Optofluidic NanoBiosensors for Cancer Research

The position

The BIOnanophotonic Systems (BIOS) Laboratory at the Institute of Bioengineering of EPFL Switzerland (led by Prof. Hatice Altug) has an open PhD position to collaborate in a Swiss National Science Foundation Sinergia project with University of Lausanne (Department of Immunobiology) and Lausanne University Hospital (Head and Neck Surgery Division and AGORA Cancer Research Center).

We are looking for a talented & motivated PhD student to work on the development of cutting-edge nanobiosensors and bioimaging systems for cancer research from understanding of lymph node metastases biology to personalized treatment strategies. Strategies will include engineering nanophotonic substrates for improved sensing performance, setting up multifunctional optical microscopy and spectroscopy systems, on-chip integration of microfluidic parts for organoid/cell analysis and biomolecule detection, establishing microarray technologies for high throughput screening experiments, handling/ characterization of biological samples (including cells),  optimization of surface functionalization protocols for operation in complex biological matrix, using advanced image/data analysis and demonstration of newly developed platforms for diagnostic applications. Some of the main tasks include preparing a research plan, nano/microfabrication of optimized device components (nanophotonic chips & microfluidics), reconfiguring optical set-ups, optimizing bioassays, characterizing/handling biological samples, performing optical/biological experiments, analyzing optical/biological data, reporting and disseminating research outcome.

Candidate profile:

The successful candidate is expected to hold a BSc or MSc degree in Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Material Science, Biophysics, Biophotonics or a closely related discipline with outstanding academic record (indicated by grades at BS/MS courses) and involvement in research (e.g. publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals & conferences).  In addition, the following qualifications are desired:

  • Hands-on experimental experience in optical microscopy, spectroscopy and optical/electronic instrumentation, & performing optical characterization.
  • Hands-on experimental experience with biosensors (not limited to optical).
  • Hand-on experience with microfluidics, BioMEMS, micro-total analysis systems and design principles (fluid analysis) for biomedical/clinical applications.
  • Experience in surface functionalization chemistry and bioassay development.
  • Experience with biological sample handling and characterization (e.g. cells, organoids, biomolecules). 
  • Experience in cleanroom with micro/nanofabrication techniques.
  • Experience in programming user interfaces for devices/instrumentation, set-up automation, data extraction (e.g., Python, Matlab, LabVIEW).
  • Experience in data analysis using signal processing tools (also AI, DNN).
  • Fluent in English (both written and spoken) and excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Independent, self-driven, creative, solution-oriented, open-minded, flexible and team-player.
  • Ability to collaborate with a wide range of interdisciplinary partners (e.g. engineers, physicists, biologists, medical doctors), well-organized, eager to learn, and able to take responsibility and define priorities quickly.

 We offer:

  • Opportunity to work on multidisciplinary and cutting-edge projects using nanophotonics, spectroscopy and lab-on-chip systems for bioanalytical and biomedical applications.
  • Opportunity to access state-of-the-art research facilities and laboratory resources.
  • Opportunity to collaborate with world-leading cancer research groups and medical doctors through a multidisciplinary consortium funded by Swiss National Science Foundation Sinergia grant.
  • EPFL is an international and top ranking engineering university. It offers a young, stimulating, dynamic, interdisciplinary, international and friendly working environment, a broad range of scientific training and networking events and hosts a vibrant entrepreneurial community.
  • EPFL is an equal-opportunity employer. Candidates will be recruited based on merit.

The selected PhD student would need to enroll in an EPFL doctoral school. Minimum 4-year BS degree is necessary for acceptance by EPFL Doctoral School. Doctoral school information and
employment conditions at EPFL are described in:


Nanophotonics, optical nanobiosensors and bioimaging systems, lab-on-a-chip systems, microarrays, microTAS, biological samples, diagnostics, cancer research

 Group website: – Group leader: Prof. Hatice ALTUG

Representative papers from BIOS: 

1- Real-time monitoring of single-cell secretion with a high-throughput nanoplasmonic microarray. Liu et al. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 113955 (2022).

2- Imaging-based spectrometer-less optofluidic biosensors based on dielectric metasurfaces for detecting extracellular vesicles. Jahani et al. Nature Communications. Vol. 12, No.3246 (2021).

3- Rapid and Digital Detection of Inflammatory Biomarkers Enabled by a Novel Portable Nanoplasmonic Imager. Belushkin et al. Small. Vol. 16, No.1906108 (2020).

Relevant review paper:

Advances and Applications of Nanohotonic Biosensors. Altug et al. Nature Nanotechnology. Vol. 17, p.5-16 (2022).

Start date:

As soon as possible


Please send your application with the subject line « 2023 PhD Position» to [email protected] in a single pdf file containing following information: cover letter, CV, transcript, list of publications, and contact details of at least three referees.