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University of Portsmouth Featured PhD Programmes
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BITE Well - Biomimetic Innovative Technologies for dental Enamel Wellbeing

Faculty of Medicine and Health

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Prof Maisoon Al-Jawad No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Leeds United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Biophysics Nursing & Health Physical Chemistry

About the Project

Untreated tooth decay is the world’s most common disease, with a prevalence of 35.8% in Western Europe with direct treatment currently costing the UK 2 billion pounds a year within the NHS alone.

Have you ever considered that it might be possible to stop tooth decay (dental caries) before the damage to your tooth becomes irreversible? And have you ever wondered how the naturally complex structure of dental enamel could be restored, including the hierarchical structure and mechanical function when it has been affected by early caries?

An effective answer to the first question has long been desired in clinical dentistry. The second question is often overlooked, since it is a challenging scientific problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach between physics, chemistry, engineering and dental sciences. However, addressing the link between multiscale structure and the functionality of biological hard tissues is the key to unlocking optimal clinical solutions to restore tissue health.

Project Objectives

Develop synchrotron techniques to expand the application of novel Self-assembling peptide (SAP)technology for controlled biomimetic remineralisation of dental enamel.

Optimise the control of guided crystal (re)growth, orientation and alignment, and recover mechanical function of early-stage “decayed” dental enamel to expedite the clinical translation of this disruptive technology.

Understand and control these novel guided (re)mineralisation methods using detailed, robust, reproducible, and in situ characterisation of crystallographic, nanostructural and mechanical properties.


In order to understand multiscale structural and mechanical changes that occur in enamel during SAP-guided remineralisation of enamel subsurface lesions, the right candidate will have the opportunity to use combined synchrotron X-ray diffraction and tomography on the DIAD beamline. Additionally, have exposure to cutting edge technologies in hard tissue engineering while being placed in two world class facilities

Project Impact

This PhD will allow us to assess the mineral ‘quality’ in relation to natural enamel tissue to optimise SAP treatment protocols. Additionally, in situ remineralisation measurements in (simulated) oral environments will provide a deeper understanding of the mechanism of remineralisation by the biometric scaffolds formed by the current molecular motif, and will aid the design and optimisation of new, potentially more effective motifs currently under development.

About the DLS-Leeds Partnership

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds in partnership with Diamond Light Source, a major UK science facility, and the project will involve up to 50% of your time spent at the synchrotron, pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the DIAD beamline at Diamond. 


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject. This project would suit a student with a background in physics, engineering, chemistry or biomedical sciences.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests fare:

• British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0

• TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship applicants should complete an online Faculty Scholarship Application form and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree certificates and transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) to the Faculty Graduate School [Email Address Removed] If you are not a UK fee rate payer please also include evidence that you are able to fund the difference in academic fees between the Home and International fee rate as appropriate.

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to complete the online Scholarship Reference Form on your behalf and send directly to [Email Address Removed] by no later than Friday 9 April 2021.

If you have already applied for other scholarships using the Faculty Scholarship Application form for this academic session you do not need to complete this form again. Instead you should email [Email Address Removed] to inform us you would like to be considered for this scholarship project.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to [Email Address Removed]

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Funding Notes

This PhD scholarship opportunity is funded by Diamond Light Source. The scholarship includes an enhanced annual tax-free stipend of £17,488 in year one (reviewed annually), renewable for up to 4 years, subject to satisfactory progress. It will also cover academic fees at the UK fee rate and a travel and conference budget.
Non-UK applicants are welcome to apply for this award, and will need to demonstrate at the time of submitting their application that they are able to self fund the difference in academic fees.
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