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Design of 3D printed microfluidic systems with engineered hydrogels for organ-on-chip applications

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

A studentship in the design of 3D printed microfluidic systems with engineered hydrogels for organ-on-chip applications is available in the group of Prof J. Gautrot. The research will focus on the development of novel 3D printed microfluidic systems that incorporate synthetic extra cellular matrix hydrogels with controlled physical (mechanical properties, porosity) and biochemical (cell-matrix adhesion, cell-mediated degradation, matrix remodelling) properties. This new toolkit of materials and patterning platforms will enable the design of organ-on-chip systems that can mimic cancer cell migration and metastasis.

Drug efficacy and toxicity testing require the development of novel in vitro tissue models. Organ-on-chips have recently been developed and have highlighted exciting opportunities for the development of improved models for drug efficacy and toxicity testing, and the study of cell and tissue biology. Advantages of tissue-on-a-chip models include: 1, formation of complex architectures; 2, capture of tissue functions; 3, ease of imaging (live) as tissues are already “mounted” on a thin glass coverslip; 4, the study of tissue homeostasis and pathology in a human context (ideal compromise between classic in vitro models and animal models); 5, simple recovery of liquids from the microfluidic channels in real time (e.g. for the monitoring of metabolites).

This project will develop microfluidic systems using 3D printable biomaterials developed in the Gautrot lab. The structure of the resulting platforms will be characterised using SEM and confocal microscopy. The impact of microfluidic channel geometry and hydrogel biomechanical properties on cancer migration will be investigated using immunostaining, confocal microscopy, western blotting and qPCR. This project will be integrated with other projects in the Gautrot lab, focusing on the development of biomaterials and biomimetic hydrogels as instructive microenvironment for stem cells (

Our research group has a strong track-record in the field of materials science: their design and synthesis, application as smart materials and biomaterials, microfabrication and study of cell interactions (see Biomaterials 2010, 2012, Nature Materials 2012, Nature Cell Biology 2010 and Integrative Biology 2013, Nano Letters 2014 and 2018, Acta Biomaterialia 2016 and ACS Nano 2018). The successful candidate will join our multidisciplinary team and build a strong expertise in the fields of materials chemistry, structural, physical and mechanical characterisation, microfabrication and processing.

Please contact Prof. Gautrot to confirm eligibility and to discuss the project.
Supervisor: Prof Julien Gautrot,

QMUL Research Studentship Details
• Available to Home/EU applicants only (see: for details).
• Full Time programme only.
• Applicant required to start in late September 2020.
• The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to 36 months (Currently set as £17,009 in
• The minimum entry requirement is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Chemistry, Materials Science,
Biomedical Engineering or equivalent.
• If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score
of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).

Application Method:
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the PhD Biomedical Materials programme (Full Time, Semester 1 2020-21 start):

Further Guidance:

Please include a reference to ‘2020 SEMS ERC JG’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.

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