Researcher in focus: Julia Parlow aims to map biologic's path from injection to absorption

“The project's close ties and relevance to the industry was what first drew my attention to SweDeliver,“ states Julia Parlow, PhD student at Uppsala University, who is currently developing a method to study the factors affecting the transport of biologics from subcutaneous injection site to absorption site.

(Image removed) Julia Parlow with fellow SweDeliver PhD student Marcus Wanselius

Numerous biologics – among them insulin and vaccines – are often injected into fatty tissue under the skin. But the method holds a number of challenges, in particular the difficulty to predict how the drug formulation will behave during the transport to its intended target. In an ongoing project at SweDeliver, Julia Parlow, PhD student at the Department of Medicinal chemistry, is developing an in vitro method to enable predictions of the expected absorption in the body.

“In early 2023, we will publish a first article showing that FRAP, an advanced microscopy technique, is applicable to study the diffusion of peptides containing at least 20 amino acids in a gel with similar properties to human tissue. In our upcoming project, we will use this technology to study model substances with systematically varied properties in the same gel, before moving on to analysing regular drug molecules.”

(Image removed) Julia Parlow, PhD Student, SweDeliver

Julia Parlow was recruited in autumn 2018 as a PhD student to Uppsala University's research environment in Pharmaceutical physical chemistry. The position opened the doors to national competence center SweDeliver and, furthermore, its far-reaching network within the pharmaceutical industry of Northern Europe. A context that is providing Julia access to supervision at both the Faculty of Pharmacy and Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S, the international pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Switzerland.

“Every other week, I have joint meetings with Professor Per Hansson and Helen Sjögren, Senior principal scientist at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, and to receive their complementary perspectives on my research really adds substantial value. In fact, it was the project's close ties and relevance to the industry that first drew my attention to SweDeliver. Throughout the process, my interest has continued to grow, and today I can clearly envision my professional future at a pharmaceutical company.”

Julia's involvement in SweDeliver has also given her important experience from the competence center's mentoring program. Throughout 2022, she is interacting with Cecilie Madsen – who in June was recruited by Lundbeck from Janssen Pharmaceuticals – and Julia highlights, among other things, the support she is receiving on work processes and presentation techniques, but also her visit in Copenhagen including the opportunity to meet people in Cecilie Madsen's professional network.

“What I appreciate the most about SweDeliver is the ability to create collaboration within the platform. After the pandemic restrictions eased, it has become obvious how much arenas like our Spring Retreat and Autumn Summit add to our work as PhD Students. The many opportunities to engage in and discuss the projects of other junior researchers already form the basis for several spontaneous group efforts, and precisely this team spirit that has come characterise the entire center is a contributing factor to why I want to try my luck in industry after completing my dissertation.”


  • SweDeliver’s research in parenteral drug delivery focuses on the development of new formulations and improved delivery systems for subcutaneous drug administration.
  • This research draws on the strong scientific expertise on self-aggregation and molecular interactions within the pharmaceutical physical chemistry group at Uppsala University.



(Image removed) Julia Parlow, PhD Student
Department of Medicinal chemistry

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt