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Biomimetic titanium scaffolds using rapid prototyping

Project Description

This PhD focuses on the development of biomimetically inspired scaffolds, structurally and biomechanically optimised for healthy bone regeneration and produced from titanium alloys using additive manufacturing.

Traumatic long bone defects represent a real clinical challenge for orthopaedic surgeons. Whilst bony tissue exhibits an impressive ability for self-repair, defects above a so-called ‘critical size’ require invasive surgical procedures in order to reconstitute the structural integrity of the bone. This proves particularly problematic in load-bearing sites where metallic plates and screws are often required for fixation. Despite all recent advances, surgical results are not fully successful and this is associated with significant socio-economic burden.

A highly porous structure is required to not only act as a space filler, but to provide biological cues in order to encourage infiltration of the patients own cells, the creation of a vascular network and the ultimate regeneration of bony tissue. In load-bearing applications there is an additional biomechanical consideration, the ideal scaffold would have sufficient strength and toughness to undergo physiological loading, but a stiffness low enough so as to not shield the surrounding bone from loading and thus potentially cause bone resorption.

Titanium alloys are commonplace in joint replacements and spinal fusion, but a titanium bone graft scaffold for load-bearing application has not seen any sort of clinical application. There is however a great deal of potential in the combination of titanium alloys and rapid prototyping for optimised scaffold structures and thus a significant body of on-going research. Rapid prototyping can allow for mimicking of the bones own structure as well as a patient-specific implant approach and ultimately enhanced bone generation and a more favourable patient outcome.

Taking inspiration from the native structure of long bone, the biomechanical environment of the load bearing bone will be key. Computational analysis will be considered at all stages from investigation of loading environment to optimisation of scaffold design for both biomechanics and cell infiltration. Micro-computed tomography will allow for imaging under physiologically relevant loading. The project will explore the potential of rapid prototyping for optimised bone implant design, using the state of the art facilities at the Centre for Custom Medical Devices, University of Birmingham.

Entry requirements

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

English language requirements may apply


Project Specific :
Application Specific :

How to apply

To apply refer to

Eligibility: UK/EU (Residency Requirements for EU in accordance with UKRI)

Funding Notes

3.5 Year funding:
RCUK Rate Stipend
*Competitive Funding*


• 1. Ghouse, S., et al. The design and in vivo testing of a locally stiffness-matched porous scaffold, Applied Materials Today,
(2019) 15, 377-388,
• 2. Roffi, A., et al., The Role of Three-Dimensional Scaffolds in Treating Long Bone Defects: Evidence from Preclinical and Clinical Literature-A Systematic Review. BioMed research international, 2017. 2017: p. 8074178-8074178.
• 3. Van der Stok, J., et al., Selective laser melting-produced porous titanium scaffolds regenerate bone in critical size cortical bone defects. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 2013. 31(5): p. 792-799.
• 4. Li, G., et al., In vitro and in vivo study of additive manufactured porous Ti6Al4V scaffolds for repairing bone defects. Scientific Reports, 2016. 6: p. 34072.
• 5. Wang, S., et al., Pore functionally graded Ti6Al4V scaffolds for bone tissue engineering application. Materials & Design, 2019: p. 107643.

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