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Development of Advanced Integrated Device Technology for Rapid and Portable Detection of Foodborne Pathogens


School of Chemical Engineering

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Dr P G. Oppenheimer No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

We are looking for a highly motivated, bright and enthusiastic candidate to conduct research leading to the award of a PhD degree in the field of Biochemical Engineering. The successful candidate will join the Advanced Nano-Materials, Structures and Applications (ANMSA) Group, one of the leading academic groups in the field of development of novel micro and nano-structures, miniaturised diagnostic technologies and complementary optical processes. Further information can be found on the group’s website: www.anmsa.com.

The project offers an exciting opportunity to develop a novel, portable micro-engineered device technology, based on integrated surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) optofluidics, for low-cost, sensitive, rapid detection of food pathogens. Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria pose a massive risk to human health; WHO estimates that 2.2 million deaths per annum are caused by foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases worldwide, and in the UK one million people are estimated to suffer from foodborne disease each year, costing the economy £2 billion per annum. Detection of pathogens in food is essential to ensure that the food we eat is safe. Detection methods must be: Rapid – so that food can be processed and shipped quickly; Cheap – to reduce overall food cost; Sensitive – to detect the small numbers of bacteria that could cause disease; High throughput – allowing testing of multiple food samples; and Simple – ideally requiring minimal human intervention. Lab-on-a-chip optofluidic SERS sensing platforms will be developed and validated for Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria detection at the point-of-interest. This research project is of an interdisciplinary nature and lies at the interface of biochemical engineering, bionanotechnology, molecular microbiology and physics. The project will focus on aspects of designing and engineering new technology for specific low-cost, sensitive and rapid detection through development of novel micro bio-nano platforms. These aspects require a high level of literacy and numeracy, coupled with an ability to develop new techniques and use of unfamiliar equipment. These skills will make the graduate highly employable after the PhD.

The position offers an exciting opportunity to apply novel optical processes with translational applications in Biotechnology, with support from biomedical researchers. The candidate should be qualified to an upper first class honours degree (high 1:1) in an appropriate branch of Engineering (e.g., Materials, Chemical, Biomedical), Exact Science (e.g., Bioscience, Physics, Chemistry) or related fields, strong supportive references and additional academic achievements (e.g., placements, research work, papers or presentations). MIBTP is a BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership between the University of Warwick, the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, Aston University and Harper Adams University. The studentship is funded, covering maintenance, College and University fees and continuation of funding is subject to annual performance review.

Applications comprising a detailed CV, cover letter, the names and addresses of two referees (and any supporting transcripts, if available) should be sent by email to Dr P. G. Oppenheimer: [Email Address Removed] who would also welcome informal enquiries. The successful applicant will be required subsequently to submit a standard application to the University.

Funding Notes

MIBTP is a BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership between the University of Warwick, the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, Aston University and Harper Adams University. More details are available at https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/mibtp/. The studentship is funded, covering maintenance, College and University fees (UK/EU Only) and continuation of funding is subject to annual performance review.


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