PhD Access to Medicine

PhD Access to Medicine

Published Deadline Location
21 Jun yesterday Leiden

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Job description

Do you want to be part of a dynamic international team working on cross-disciplinary legal research to improve children’s access to medicine in Africa?

The Child Law & Health Law Department of the Institute for Private Law at Leiden Law School invite applications for a Doctorate in Law (PhD):

The Child’s Right to Access Medicine under International Human Rights Law: Responding to antimicrobial resistance - PhD Candidate, 1.0 FTE
Vacancy Number: 14930

This project explores a right to access medicine for children under international law. It interrogates the scope and content of a legal obligation to ensure access to safe, effective and quality-assured medicine formulated to children’s unique physiological and developmental needs. This project is linked to the broader global health challenge of antimicrobial resistance, focusing on children’s right to access antimicrobials in the context of treating and preventing drug-resistant childhood infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Scientific background
Children are not little adults. They are a diverse patient group, ranging from preterm neonates to post-pubescent adolescents. Children do not metabolize medicines in the same way as adults due to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic differences in their physiology. The absence of child-friendly medicine and/or appropriate paediatric dosage guidelines can result in sub-optimal treatment or low-treatment adherence, which in some cases can lead to premature death in children.

Part of the complexity lies in the ethical and practical challenges surrounding paediatric clinical research, and the costs associated with developing and bringing to market paediatric formulations once drugs are approved for use in adults. Since 2007, the WHO has issued a List of Essential Medicines specific to Children and in the last decade, innovative private/public partnerships have emerged, such as the Global Accelerator for Paediatric Formulation (GAP-f) to support the development of child-friendly medicines.

However, despite these developments, there remains significant lag time in the development and approval of child-friendly medicines, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In the case of neonates, it can take up to 20 years for a new drug to be tested and approved for use in neonates, leaving pediatricians the daunting task of assessing the risks and benefits of prescribing these drugs off-label.

The emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa and the rest of the world imposes a further urgency on the issue of child-friendly medicine. In 2019, there were an estimated 4.95 million deaths associated with drug-resistant bacterial infections worldwide. In Africa, deaths attributable to drug-resistant bacterial infections have surpassed deaths from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. If left unchecked, antimicrobial resistance could be responsible for as many as 10 million deaths a year by 2050, costing the global economy upwards of trillions of dollars annually.

Research objectives
This project seeks to answer the following questions:

1) Is there a right to child-friendly medicine under international law?
2) What is the content and scope of states’ legal obligations to ensure access to child-friendly medicine? What obligations do non-State actors hold (such as pharmaceutical companies or private donors) in ensuring access to child-friendly medicine?
3) What avenues are available to access justice and effective remedy for a violation of a right to child-friendly medicine?

The outcomes of this project will feed into the wider global health discourse on antimicrobial resistance, drawing attention to the impact of AMR on child-populations in low- and middle-income countries. It also explores broader avenues for children’s access to justice in the context of global health, looking at national human rights institutions and strategic litigation, particularly within Africa.

Supervision of the project will be undertaken by Professor Ann Skelton, Chair of Children’s Rights in a Sustainable World, Dr Katrien Klep and Dr Sheila Varadan. The PhD-researcher will also benefit from the support and training offered through the graduate school and PhD Dean’s office.

Key Responsibilities
  • Completion of a PhD thesis (through a series of publications) within four years
  • Presentation of research at workshops and international conferences
  • Participation in internal and external department activities and meetings, including co-organising workshops and conferences
  • Publication of articles (related to and in addition to the PhD) in peer-reviewed academic journals
  • Teaching and/or supervision of students in the Advanced LLM students in the Child Law and Health law department (to a maximum 10% (0.1FTE) of appointment).

Your profile
  • Post-graduate degree in law with good academic standing; preference will be given to applicants with an undergraduate degree in law (J.D/LL.B);
  • Demonstrated excellence in legal research and writing (e.g. scholarly legal publications, high standing in Master of Laws dissertation and/or significant experience in legal practice);
  • Excellent command of English (native speaker or professional fluency) – knowledge of French and/or Dutch will be an asset;
  • Demonstrated aptitude in public speaking and interpersonal communication;
  • Keen interest in global health and/or health sciences;
  • Highly motivated and self-driven with strong organizational skills;
  • Enthusiastic about working in a dynamic and international team.

The PhD candidate will be based at the Institute for Private Law and supervised by researchers within the Child Law and Health Law Department. The PhD candidate will also work with researchers from the Africa Studies Centre Leiden and be part of the Leiden University Network for Global Health in Africa (LUNHA).

All departments have an outstanding reputation and extensive networks in their fields. Professor Ann Skelton is a world-leading expert on children’s rights and currently the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. This position is just one of the examples of how Leiden University fosters interdisciplinarity within its faculty to perform groundbreaking research on law and new technologies. Moreover, a good work-life balance will be important to ensure there is flexibility to combine work with other responsibilities.

Our faculty
With over 6500 students and 650 members of staff, Leiden Law School is one of the largest faculties in The Netherlands. Yet, in all its diversity, it is still known for its ability to provide education on a small scale. The Faculty focuses on multi-faceted and high-level teaching and research, both nationally and internationally. It does so by working with talented people and stimulating and supporting them in their professional and personal ambitions. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in an inspiring scientific environment.

We offer
The position is full-time for one year initially. After receiving a positive evaluation on the progress of the PhD, and personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended for a further three years. The salary range is from € 2770 to € 3539 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). As a result of the current Collective Labour Agreement negotiations the salary will very likely be increased considerably in the near future.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses, we have set up a dual career programme and visa support for dependents is provided. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at:

Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

We welcome and encourage applicants from Africa.

Enquiries specific to this opportunity can be made to Assistant Professor Sheila Varadan at

Information about Leiden Law School can be found at and about Leiden University at

Information on the advanced research qualification and research programmes of the Graduate School of Legal Studies can be found on:

Applications for this vacancy can only be made through our applications portal.

Applications must be submitted in English and should include the following:
  • Cover Letter (maximum one (1) page)
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae (up to five (5) pages)
  • Sample of Written Work (e.g. published article or submitted LLM thesis)
  • Official copies of transcripts from all post-secondary studies (issued from institution in PDF form)
  • Name and contact information (email address and phone number) of three references (at least one academic and one recent professional reference).

Applications should be submitted no later than 15 July 2024 via the blue button in the applications portal. Please quote the vacancy number in your application. All requested documents should be sent in PDF format.

Short-listed candidate will be contacted for an interview during the third week of August 2024.

Acquisition following this advertisement is not appreciated


Leiden University


  • PhD
  • Law
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14930



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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