Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
De Montfort University Featured PhD Programmes

3D bioprinted microtissues to develop patient-specific non-animal technologies (NAT) in cancer drug development (Ref: NC3Rs21/HLS/APP/PAL)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr D Pal  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Newcastle United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Cancer Biology Cell Biology Genetics Molecular Biology

About the Project

This cross-institutional NC3Rs project will provide multidisciplinary training including but not limited to stem cells, cancer research and the 3Rs (Dr. D. Pal, Northumbria University, Principal Supervisor), bioengineering (Professor Kenny Dalgarno, Newcastle University) and AWERB/3Rs (Dr. Helen Blair, Newcastle University). The project at academia-industry interface will further include a training component with our industrial partner Alcyomics Ltd. The successful candidate will be trained in GLP and industrial standard practices which are relevant for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. This doctoral programme will further benefit from the lab’s extensive international collaborations with Newcastle University, UCL, University of Glasgow, The PMC, The Netherlands and the Wyss Institute at Harvard and links with local, national and international hospitals.

Improved strategies to reduce side effects and avoid treatment failure are urgently needed in leukaemia treatment. Cancer drug development has the highest “drug attrition” rates, highlighting the need for preclinical models with improved clinical translatability. Our scientific aim is to develop a scalable patient-specific microtissue platform towards identification of new treatments towards future Phase I trials. Importantly, the 3Rs aim of this project is to replace animals in preclinical testing of anti-cancer medicines.

We have developed synthetic bone marrow cells(bm) from human iPSC. These cells support the ex vivo growth of patient-leukaemia cells whilst retaining chief cancer cell properties so they behave similarly to how they would have behaved in the patient’s body. In this project we will develop an automated 3D bioprinting approach to micro-engineer and subsequently characterise patient derived leukaemia microtissue models. Developing an automation-based approach will ensure scalability while optimisation of GLP compliant protocols will ensure that we overcome existing barriers to the uptake of our platform. Furthermore, our platform will provide proof-of-concept preclinical models for application to other solid tumours to replace even larger number of animals in cancer research.

For further details please see:

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      They should have a strong academic background in the biological sciences or biomedical engineering and a desire to pursue research in line with that of the research group. 


For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 


Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons (please elaborate your research skills as well as include soft/interpersonal skills) you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. NC3Rs21/…) will not be considered. 

Start Date: 1st October 2021

Interviews: June 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. 


For informal enquiries, please contact Dr. Deepali Pal ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22, this is £15,609 pa) and full Home Fees.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


1. Pal D, Blair HJ, et al. Long-term in vitro maintenance of clonal abundance and leukaemia-initiating potential in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Leukaemia 2016, 30, 1691-1700. Impact factor =12; citations = 32. F1000 prime recommendation obtained.
2. Martinez-Soria N.…Pal D…., Heidenreich O. The Oncogenic Transcription Factor RUNX1/ETO Corrupts Cell Cycle Regulation to Drive Leukemic Transformation. Cancer Cell 2018, 34(4), 626-642.e8.. Impact factor = 23.5. Citations = 12
3. Pal D*, Moad M*, et al. A novel model of urinary tract differentiation, tissue regeneration, and disease: Reprogramming human prostate and bladder cells into induced pluripotent stem cells. European Urology 2013, 64(5), 753-761. Impact factor = 17, citations = 60
4. Pal D, et al. Dormancy Stems the Tide of Chemotherapy. Cancer Cell 2016, 30(6), 825-826.
5. da Conceicao Ribeiro, R.; Pal, D.; et al Reactive jet impingement bioprinting of high cell density gels for bone microtissue fabrication. Biofabrication 2018, 11 (1), 015014. Impact factor = 7.5
6. Ribeiro, R. D. C.; Pal, D.; et al. Temporary Single-Cell Coating for Bioprocessing with a Cationic Polymer. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2017, 9 (15), 12967-12974. Impact factor = 8.5
Please also see:
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.