Cardiff University EPSRC PhD Studentship in Dentistry and Engineering: Nanoengineered stem-cell microcapsules for regenerative healthcare (PhD Studentship)
Reference Number: R719
Key Studentship Information
Project Title: Nanoengineered stem-cell microcapsules for regenerative healthcare
Project Description: This interdisciplinary project proposal seeks to explore the use of microfluidic chips (imagine planar capillaries the width of a hair) fabricated from fluoropolymers (like Teflon) using our world unique SRIF 157nm laser facility (deep ultraviolet light) to create monodisperse (extremely similar) membrane- boundedmicrocapsules (small spheres less than the width of a human hair) which incorporate stem-cells, in a secure chemical microenvironment, within which their differentiation can be controlled. The microcapsules will also incorporate growth factors, nutrients and an internal scaffold structure. The microencapsulation processes researched will enable a generic healthcare treatment for use in regenerative medicine, such as spinal-chord injury. This new strategic, critical-mass alliance will generate an interdisciplinary individual with a rare combination of tranferable skills, high-impact journals publications, new intellectual property, and lead to one or more major joint research grant applications to EPSRC/MRC/TSB by the applicants.
Standing of research group: The published and patented, inter- and multi-disciplinary research of Professor Barrow has originated diverse multidisciplinary inventions in (i) miniaturised instrumentation, (ii) chemicals microseparations, and (iii) microcapsule manufacturing, that in turn, respectively spawned three companies, including MSTB Ltd., Protasis Corporation and Q-CHIP Ltd. This entrepreneurial scholarship was recognised by the TSB who invited Pr. Barrow to establish (metaFAB) a key convergence technology node of the UK open-access MicroNanoTechnology Network. DENTL is in the top 5 (RAE) UK Dental Schools, has been recently refurbished throughout (laboratories and equpiment, including the construction of a new research floor) and has won numerous international awards and prizes. Pr. Song is the holder of a prestigious ERC Fellowship grant. Pr. Barrow has made an application to the ERC for an Advanced grant, on which Pr. Song is also a named collaborator. Pr. Stephens has a number of patent filings relating to his stem cell work.
Specific research training benefits: The PhD student will benefit from the diverse and state of the art facilities for laser microfabrication, cell-culture, biochemistry, microfluidic design and modelling, courses in LabVIEW virtual instrument design and COMSOL microfluidics modelling, and various short courses in regenerative medicine offered by the Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER) partners. This will result in an extremely well-rounded, interdisciplinary and highly employable individual.
Range of research environment exposures: These include the (1) Applied Microfluidics Laboratory (design, modelling, measurement) (2) Cardiff SRIF Xtreme Laser Facility with 157nm and femtosecond lasers for microfabrication (3) Nikon-Thermofisher Metrology Suite (interferometry, confocal microscopy) (4) Imaging suite (confocal laser scanning time lapse microscopy) (5) Human cell culture/manipulation suite.
Opportunities for collaboration with external partners and placements: Since 2006 Pr. Barrow has undertaken 56 audited contracts for other universities and companies through the activities of metaFAB within the UK TSB MicronanoTechnology Network. This work has been on the use of laser micromachining and microfluidic structures, many for biotechnology applications. His postgraduate students are usually participants in meetings concerned with such projects, and this gives rise to a beneficial diversity of networking and scientific/technical interactions. Also, the company (Q-CHIP Ltd.), which he founded in 2003 frequently takes interns and sponsors research students. Q-CHIP currently has a call out for “Technology Star Interns” at Cardiff University, which fits well within the brief of our proposal here. Pr. Song is a holder of a prestigious ERC Starting Grant on stem cells with partners in the Institute of Biochemistry, University of Muenster (Germany), IMBA - Austria Academy of Sciences (Austria) and the University of Liverpool (UK) with whom collaborative exchanges and placements are envisaged. Pr. Stephens is PI on a cross-discipline (Dentistry, Medicine, Biosciences, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Social Sciences)/cross-University EPSRC grant.
Likely popularity of the project area: The rare combination of microfluidics, micromachining, stem cell science and regenerative medicine provides a very lively and progressive research experience, for which such an interdisciplinary opportunity is highly sought after. The candidate will acquire many transferable skills in best chemical/biological laboratory practice, computer-aided-design and modelling and prototype engineering of, effectively, desktop factories, which will contribute to their CPD portfolio. We already have interest from prospective research students through our involvement with CITER, but would also cast a wider net through advertising this prestigious post to capture the best possible high-ranking candidate.
This Project is joint funded by the EPSRC and the Schools of Engineering and Dentistry at Cardiff University.
For Home and EU students, the studentship will cover Home tuition fees at the Home fee rate, and a tax free annual stipend of £13,590 in 2012-13.
Number of Awards: 1
Academic Criteria: Applicants should hold or expect to gain an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (2.1 or 1st class honours) and/or an appropriate Masters level qualification.
Residency: The studentship is open to: UK students; EU students who have been resident in the UK for three years at the course start date; other candidates who can demonstrate a connection to the UK, usually through residency. Other EU applications may be eligible for a fees-only award.
How to Apply
Applications can be made on our Online Application Service.
PLEASE ENSURE YOU QUOTE THE STUDENTSHIP REFERENCE DBBSPS-DTG-2011 ON YOUR APPLICATION. (For online applications, please put reference in the “Prospective Supervisor” section).
Application Deadline: Open until position is filled.
For further Information please contact:
Professor David Barrow, Barrow@cardiff.ac.uk
Professor Bing Song, SongB3@Cardiff.ac.uk
Professor Phil Stephens, StephensP@cf.ac.uk