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Designing biomimetic neural materials for scalable 3D cell


   lifETIME Centre for Doctoral Training

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Apply now for 1st October start

Supervisor: Dr Eric Hill - https://research.aston.ac.uk/en/persons/eric-hill

Company: Qkine - https://qkine.com/

Developing therapies and prevention strategies to tackle neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, requires an understanding of the brain cells that are affected. Whilst extensive informative research has been conducted over the past decades using animal models, there remains a significant gap in knowledge surrounding the mechanisms underlying brain cell dysfunction. Recently, there has been a scientific revolution in the field of stem cell-derived neurons, whereby patient's skin cells can be turned into brain cells in the lab. Bringing the biological methods together with advances in materials, artificial brain cell circuits can be produced to mimic the structure of brain tissues. Whilst stem cells provide scientists with the many different cell types as building blocks to fabricate human neuronal systems, engineering approaches need to be adopted to present these with the necessary three-dimensional complexity of human brain tissue. This project will develop a 3D biomaterial scaffold to display multiple neuro-developmental signaling factors to mimic brain architecture development.

Benefits of joining our programme

The benefit of this programme is that we have partners from industry (Pharma, contract research organisations, small enterprises), the NHS, regulation and charity organisations who will work with our students. This CDT is based at the Universities of Glasgow, Birmingham, Aston and Galway, as partners we work collaboratively to create a national cohort of new talent to drive this sector. This cohort will support each other throughout their professional careers working to bring better health to the UK and beyond.

Students who join this programme will find homes in dynamic labs in the host universities and have the opportunity for travel around the UK / Ireland and the rest of the world. If you want to perform exciting science, become a leader in the field, develop a network of like-minded talent and thus grow the UK drug discovery sector, then you should apply for this programme.

More information about the lifETIME programme is available here.

More information about the projects is available here.

Funding and eligibility

Fully funded studentships are available at the UK home rate for this project:

  • UK Home studentship – To be eligible for a fully funded UK home studentship you must be a UK national resident in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar for the last three years. Candidates with settled status (having lived in the UK for five years) and pre-settled status (having lived in the UK/EEA/Gibraltar/Switzerland for a minimum of three years) are eligible for funding. Candidates with indefinite leave to remain or enter are also eligible for funding.
  • International studentship – We do not have any international funding available for this project. 

All applicants must have or expect to obtain a first-class degree (2.1 or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline; Physical Sciences, Engineering, or other relevant disciplines.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

lifETIME have placed EDI at the heart of its activities offering part-time studentships, childcare support for conference attendance, flexible working for careers as well as prompting work-life balance. We now offer EDI funding to support applications from widening participation backgrounds providing an additional funding of £2k p.a.


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