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Developing 3D printed models of childhood and adult brain tumours

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Nick Leslie
    Dr Ferry Melchels
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Medical Research Scotland
PhD Studentship Award

This project is one of 11 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland (http://www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk) to be delivered jointly by the named University and Company. The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and commercial training needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Developing 3D printed models of childhood and adult brain tumours" to be delivered by the Heriot-Watt University [Supervisors: Dr Nick Leslie and Dr Ferry Melchels (both Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering)] and Renishaw PLC (www.renishaw.com) [Company supervisor: Dr Marcus Ardron].

To study brain tumours and particularly to test drugs to treat them, researchers have developed several types of “brain tumours in a laboratory”. These include genetically modified mice and brain tumour cells taken from patients and grown either in dishes in incubators or implanted into mice. However, these options all have problems and expensive failures of drugs in clinical trials would be avoided if these laboratory models gave results that were better at predicting success in patients. Research has provided ways to work with patient-derived brain tumour cells, but simply grown on their own in plastic dishes they behave very differently than they do in a real tumour. Using new methods we have recently developed, this project is to 3D print cells from aggressive adult and childhood brain cancers mixed with other cell types common in and around these tumours, so that they behave the way they do in the patient. The project will develop this technology and test whether these 3D printed tumour constructs really give drug testing data with much closer results to human disease than current simpler alternatives. It aims to deliver new technology and methods to study brain cancers and accelerate the provision of new drugs to patients.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Nick Leslie:
[Email Address Removed]


Candidates must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK undergraduate Honours Life Science or Bioengineering degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK.

Applicants should send a CV, the contact details of 2 academic references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Dr Nick Leslie:
[Email Address Removed]

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 2-3 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in September 2017.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £17,500, increasing to £18,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.



Tabriz et al, 2015, Biofabrication, Vol 7, No. 4, 045012

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