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  Development and assessment of technology enabling the robust and reproducible construction of human bioengineered tissues and their transportation


   Department of Biosciences

  ,  Sunday, June 30, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Bioengineered tissues constructed in the laboratory are valuable tools as part of basic research, drug discovery, and safety assessment. Models incorporating human cells, provide useful surrogates of human tissues, avoiding the use of animals. The use and benefits of such micro-physiological systems is becoming more widely recognised and increasingly more widespread, however, there remains a lack of consistency and robustness, inadequate characterisation, and limited accessibility. Moreover, many such systems often poorly represent the anatomy and physiology of their native counterparts, limiting their usefulness and value.

In our laboratory we have developed unique technologies to enable the bioengineering of human tissue models. The production and application of human full thickness skin equivalents is a good example of where we have achieved an advanced and superior tissue construct. This involves the design and manufacture of bespoke equipment to support the optimal construction of our models, avoiding the constraints of existing culture-ware. The design of these systems involves reference to the end point analyses and tests, some of which are performed in the clinic using instrumentation to assess native tissue performance (e.g. trans-epidermal water loss).

In this project, the student will undertake interdisciplinary research at the biophysical science interface to continue the development and application of new devices to support the optimal growth and differentiation of human tissue constructs that are maintained inside and outside of the laboratory. This will involve use of CAD and 3D printing and prototyping approaches leading to sophisticated design of bespoke equipment. Design will be driven by the needs of the differentiating tissues and their long-term viability and sterility in vitro, as well as compatibility with interacting with the tissue and evaluating the impact of test compounds (e.g. topically applied cosmetics) or interventions such as physical and chemical insults (e.g. wound models, exposure to irritants, pollution, UV radiation). The development of this technology will require extensive optimisation and detailed validation, involving advanced cell culture techniques, understanding of cell biology and tissue differentiation, and cell and molecular analysis. As part of this iterative optimisation process, biological function will feed back into design concepts, leading to a suite of bespoke devices and protocols, maximising the performance and use of the tissue models. A primary focus of this work will be the development of approaches to understand and resolve the constraints and limitations of transporting live human skin tissue constructs between laboratories. The student will ascertain how tissue viability and sterility is maintained, and performance impacted as consequence of carriage outside the laboratory environment. Technological solutions enabling successful transfer of viable and fully functional human bioengineered models will greatly enhance accessibility of such systems to users interested their application.

The student will receive training in advanced cell culture and the bioengineering of human skin tissue; cell and molecular biological analytical techniques; advanced light microscopic imaging; immunostaining; histology; and gain knowledge and understanding of human skin cell biology. They will have excellent practical skills and will apply their knowledge and expertise to this hands-on project. Notably, the student will establish an understanding of skin cell biology, tissue growth and maintenance, and viability of skin equivalents. There will be regular interaction and opportunity to work with the industrial partner, Reprocell Europe Limited.

How to Apply

To apply for this studentship, applicants should submit their application using the online system: https://studyatdurham.microsoftcrmportals.com/en-US/. Please select PhD in Biological Sciences: Course Code C1A001.

Applications will be processed as they are received until the position is filled.

For informal discussion or further information on the position, interested candidates should contact Professor Stefan Przyborski () before submitting their application.

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

The studentship is open for home students and tuition fees will only be covered at the UK level. The studentship if fully funded for 4 years and includes stipend (in line with UKRI rates) and bench fees. This is an industry linked studentship, the project is in partnership with Reprocell Europe Limited, and will involve regular interaction with staff in the company.


Register your interest for this project


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