PhD Studentship: Bioengineering Cartilage Explants: A Multidisciplinary
Joint PhD studentship between School of Engineering Sciences and School of Medicine
A PhD studentship is available in the Bioengineering research group, School of Engineering Sciences (SES), and Bone and Joint research group, School of Medicine (SoM), which fully covers University tuition fees (at EU/UK level**) and provides a tax-free bursary of £13,600 per year, rising annually (each October) in line with the UK Government (EPSRC) recommended rate, for a 3-year duration. **EU/UK fees £3500 p.a., Overseas fee 15,500 p.a. (figures to be confirmed, and subject to annual increase).
There is NO additional funding available for overseas fees. We regret it will not be possible to consider your application unless you can provide funding from other sources to pay the fees difference (£12,000 for 2010/11).
Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine has emerged as a promising multidisciplinary field, encompassing biology, medicine, engineering, chemistry and other related fields, for the repair, replacement and regeneration of aged/ diseased tissues/ organs. Cartilage is a realistic target for tissue engineering as it is avascular, aneural and comprises of a single cell type, the chondrocyte. Our previous work on cartilage tissue engineering highlighted the need to address issues relating to scale-up, optimal cell viability and chondrogenic differentiation, generation of hyaline versus fibrous cartilage and mechanical competency, in order to generate 3-D hyaline cartilaginous constructs with clinical efficacy. This project aims to bioengineer 3-D hyaline cartilaginous explants by application of multidisciplinary approaches, encompassing skeletal stem cell and molecular biology, chemical manipulation of cells, computational modelling and mechanical testing to determine efficacy of the explants as neo-cartilage grafts. Human bone marrow-derived adult skeletal stem cells, human articular chondrocytes and the ATDC5 cell line (positive control) will be utilised to generate large-scale 3-D cell aggregates using a biotin-avidin cell aggregation strategy. Chondrogenic differentiation will be stimulated by culturing the 3-D aggregates in defined medium in rotating vessel bioreactors. Computational modelling will be applied to predict complex relationships between cell density, diffusion distance, cell viability and differentiation within the 3-D constructs, and the information from the mathematical models utilised to generate cartilaginous explants, with optimal cell viability and chondrogenic differentiation, in vitro as part of the iterative process. The role of hypoxia in development of hyaline cartilage phenotype will be explored further by analysing the functions of hypoxia-inducible factors and microRNA species utilising molecular biology approaches, histology and immunohistochemistry. Finally, mechanical properties (stiffness, resilience) of these explants will be quantitated to determine their potential long-term performance and clinical utility as neo-cartilage grafts. This research is therefore designed to deliver a strong translational/ clinical innovation outcome.
The School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton has an international reputation for research excellence. In the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise, the School (in collaboration with the Institute of Sound & Vibration Research) ranked second in the total number of Unit 28 academics whose research was deemed world leading or internationally excellent.
The School is a diverse community which is committed to creating an inclusive working and learning environment in which all individuals are equally treated and valued, and can achieve their potential. The School considers all studentship applications in relation to academic criteria and regardless of the individual's race, nationality, gender, or belief.
Entry requirements: Candidates will have a first class or upper second class degree (or its equivalent) in relevant disciplines,
Biology (preferably Stem Cell biology) or Engineering Sciences (preferably Bioengineering)
The successful candidate will work with a group of highly motivated, first class research students in the areas of Skeletal stem cell and molecular biology, Computational modelling and Mechanical Engineering
Commencing 1 October 2010
Closing date for applications: A rolling deadline applies.
If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Rahul S. Tare, Bioengineering and Bone & Joint Research Group Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0) 2380 777222 (Extn. 3293)
How to apply: An on-line application form (or hard copy version) with guidance notes can be accessed here: http://www.soton.ac.uk/ses/courses/pg/pgapply.html
Please read the notes carefully before applying. Applications will only be considered on receipt of a completed application form.
You can attach your supporting documents to the on-line application. If you are unable to do this, please send by email to Julia Zimbler email@example.com (or send by fax or post if you are unable to send them electronically):
Julia Zimbler, Postgraduate Admissions, Graduate School Office, School of Engineering Sciences, Room 4009, Lanchester Building, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK.
Fax: +44 (0) 2380 59 5167.
Please ensure you include a personal statement in your application, stating why you particularly want to do a PhD, why you think you are suited to a research degree and what particularly attracts you to this project.
Please also visit www.soton.ac.uk/ses for further information about the School and its research activities.
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