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Materials design for better formulations (FABIANU16SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr L Fábián
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The pharmaceutical industry is finding it ever more difficult to bring new treatments to market or develop products that are unaffordable for many patients. One of the reasons behind these problems is that many new drug candidates, while showing promising biological activity, display physical characteristics that make developing them into efficient formulations very difficult. Common issues include low solubility, hygroscopicity, chemical or physical instability and poor mechanical properties. Multi-component solids, such as salts and cocrystals allow changing these properties without modifying the active compound. (Co-crystals are crystals containing more than one compound.) However, finding suitable partners that crystallise together with a particular drug and produce the desired properties is not straightforward. Currently, trial-and-error is the most common procedure, which is both expensive and time consuming.

The aim of this PhD project is to develop rational design strategies for both the formation and the properties of these new drug forms. You will prepare/analyse systematic series of multi-component crystals and identify how their key properties (e.g., dissolution rate, stability) depend on the constituent molecules and their interactions. Our group combines a wide range of experimental methods to prepare and characterise multi-component solids with computational tools to explain and ultimately predict their properties. Through the project you will learn the fundamentals of supramolecular chemistry and crystal engineering. You will acquire knowledge of an extensive range of methods (e.g., X-ray crystallography, thermal analysis, electron microscopy, data-mining, DFT calculations) and will be able to choose some to develop deeper, specialist skills.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) S. Karki, T. Friscic, L. Fabian, P. R. Laity, G. M. Day, W. Jones, Adv. Mater. 2009, 21, 3905-3909.
ii) P. T. A. Galek, L. Fabian, F. H. Allen, CrystEngComm 2010, 12, 2091-2099.
iii) L. Fabian, N. Hamill, K. S. Eccles, H. A. Moynihan, A. R. Maguire, L. McCausland, S. E. Lawrence, Cryst. Growth Des. 2011, 11, 3522-3528.
iv) R. Thakuria, A. Delori, W. Jones, M. P. Lipert, L. Roy, N. Rodriguez-Hornedo, Int. J. Pharm. 2013, 453, 101-125.
v) I. Sarcevica, L. Orola, K. P. Nartowski, Y. Z. Khimyak, A. N. Round, L. Fabian, Mol. Pharmaceutics, 2015, 12, 2981-2992.

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