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Developing streamlined approaches to assessing the systemic and hepatic effects of nanomaterials (EPS2020/08)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Integrated approaches to testing and assessment (IATAs) are under development to assess the hazards of nanomaterials via ingestion, inhalation and dermal application. This project will complement the existing IATAs by developing a streamlined approach to assessing the hazards of nanomaterials that enter blood.

Nanomaterials are particles with at least one dimension below 100 nm. They are used in a wide variety of commercial and consumer products due to the interesting properties that materials exhibit at the nano-scale. For example, nano-gold is red or purple, reactive, absorbs infrared light and can be used to image and kill cancer cells in the human body. Due to the diversity of nano-enabled products (e.g. medicines, cosmetics, paints, papers, coatings, clothing, electronics) it is important to assess their potential risks to human health. This project will contribute to the co-ordinated European research and regulatory efforts to establish robust Frameworks to support the risk assessment of nanomaterials.

This project will contribute to the development of Integrated Approach to Testing and Assessment (IATA) (OECD 2017) for the assessment of nanomaterial hazard. IATAs are structured as a series of questions which guide the gathering of information and experimental testing required to allow an evidence based decision to be made on the hazard of substances. This evidence includes existing information (e.g. from peer reviewed literature, reports and databases), modelling (i.e. in silico approaches) and testing (fate, behaviour, exposure, toxicokinetics and/or hazard). The purpose of the IATA is to streamline the hazard testing so that the user is guided to use the most appropriate models and to generate useable data for hazard and risk assessment. We anticipate that these IATAs will, in the future, feed into European and International guidance documents used by regulators.

We already have IATAs under development that assess the hazard of nanomaterials following exposure via inhalation, ingestion and dermal application. We have a draft IATA developed for injected nanomaterials, but this requires further work. This project will develop the systemic IATA which is relevant for injected nanomaterials, but also for nanomaterials that are able to translocate to blood following inhalation, ingestion or dermal application. The project will contribute to the identification of the most appropriate methodologies to include within the IATA, testing the suitability of these models where needed, generating data to justify their inclusion and to test the reliability of the IATA. It is anticipated that this work will then lead to the development and assessment of IATAs for implantation of nanomaterials into different body locations.

Please note that the Project will include a combination of desk-based and laboratory work.

The proposed project will complement three on-going European projects, GRACIOUS (coordinated by Vicki Stone), PATROLS and BIORIMA.

GRACIOUS is generating a framework to support scientists, regulators and industry to streamline the hazard and risk assessment of nanomaterials. This is achieved by placing the nanomaterials into logical groups described by a scientific hypothesis. This hypothesis is then tested using a tailored IATA.

PATROLS is generating 3D multi-cellular models of different organs, including the lung, intestine and liver. The 3D models are designed primarily for nanomaterial hazard testing, and will form part of the IATAs of GRACIOUS.

BIORIMA is developing an integrated risk assessment frameworks for nanomaterials used in medical and dental applications. The BIORIMA framework will use the IATAs of GRACIOUS to guide and streamline the testing required to assess the hazard of these nanomaterials.

Finally, the student will work closely with Heriot-Watt University colleagues (Dr Helinor Johnston and Dr David Brown), collaborators from GRACIOUS (Dr Agnes Omen, RIVM, The Netherlands) and from BIORIMA (Adriele Prina Mello, TCD, Dublin).

Requirements

All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). Some of our scholarships are only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC. Some scholarships are available for exceptional overseas candidates

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online - https://hwacuk.elluciancrmrecruit.com/Admissions/Pages/Login.aspx

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Bio-engineering and Bio-sciences PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be £15k and full fees will be paid for 3 years.

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