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Development of a model oesophagus for drug testing

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Ghag
    Dr H Batchelor
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The oesophagus is the organ that links the mouth to the stomach. It is often described as a simple collapsible tube and is often overlooked in pharmaceutical research as rapid transit is assumed. However, there is a need to assess transit through the oesophagus and to design dosage forms to optimise transit depending on their functionality.

Electrospinning offers a method to manufacture a flexible structure that can mimic the oesophageal wall and simulate the oesophageal environment. The technique can be adapted in order to produce structures of various architectures, as well as the introduction of patterning. The surfaces of structures can be functionalised further in order to mimic the physiological environment. The method allows for the fabrication of intricate structures which show promise in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Project outline and aims:
This project will explore the design and manufacture of an electrospun material that mimics the oesophagus. Ideally this material will replicate the anatomical dimensions and surface properties of the oesophagus. The oesophagus is reported to be 25cm in length with an internal diameter of 2cm when relaxed, increasing to 3cm whilst swallowing a bolus of food. The elasticity of the oesophageal wall has previously been reported. The surface properties of the oesophagus also need to be replicated where possible to mimic the unstirred water layer that is 30-95µm thick. Structures will be manufactured and their elasticity, tensile strength and porosity will be evaluated to produce a material with characteristics required to mimic the oesophagus. Once a suitable structure has been identified that can mimic oesophageal tissue this will be used to assess dosage forms in two ways; 1. Measure the retention of bioadhesive materials as oesophageal bandages to protect from gastric reflux, and 2. Measure the transit time and speed of coated tablets.

The research is part of a multidisciplinary project between the School of Chemical Engineering and the School of Pharmacy. The candidate will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and be part of a thriving research environment.

Funding Notes

We are looking to recruit an excellent graduate from a relevant discipline (i.e. Biomaterials, Tissue engineering, Materials Science, Pharmacy or closely related) who has a strong interest in research. For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Anita Ghag ([Email Address Removed]). Due to funding restrictions this project is only open to UK/EU applicants.
Formal applications can be made at

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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