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  Enhancing PMMA Bone Cement Performance and Biocompatibility using Metal-Organic Frameworks


   School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Marta Roldo and Professor Paul Cox.

The work on this project will:

  • Focus on the development of novel composite bone cements.
  • Provide the candidate with opportunities to develop skills in wet and computational chemistry.
  • Explore biomaterials, biocompatibility and antimicrobial activity.
  • Offer the opportunity to work in an international multidisciplinary team including researchers from Spain and Brazil. 

Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is the most commonly employed bone cement; its applications include screws, prostheses, bone cavities filling, and vertebroplasty. Vertebroplasty is a procedure used in the repair of osteoporotic vertebral fractures, of which 750,000 occur every year in the US only. The clinically used formulation of PMMA cement comes as a two-component system: a powder, formed of pre-polymerised beads of controlled size, that is mixed with the liquid monomer (methyl methacrylate, MMA) to give an injectable slurry that polymerises in situ. Currently available PMMA bone cement formulas present some drawbacks as they are not bioactive, do not integrate with bone satisfactorily, do not match the stiffness of bone, generate a highly exothermic reaction that can induce surrounding tissue necrosis, and the MMA monomer can cause acute toxicity. Moreover, PMMA use can be associated with infections. Researchers have attempted to address some of the limitations of PMMA including bioactive materials such as hydroxyapatite or bioactive glass, hydrogel-forming polymers, or plasticizers. However, no new material has so far reached the clinic, as modifications have generally resulted in a lower mechanical competence of the materials limiting their application in load-bearing regions. In this project we aim to use metal-organic frameworks as novel fillers and hypothesise they will:

1. Support osseointegration. 

2. Reduce toxicity.

3. Enhance antimicrobial activity by controlled release of antibiotics and metal ions. 

4. Modulate mechanical behaviour.

This project will allow the PhD candidate to acquire skills in synthetic and analytical chemistry, mechanical characterisation and bioactivity/biocompatibility of biomaterials. The project will also involve aspects of molecular modelling, investigation of the antimicrobial properties of the materials developed and cytocompatibility studies. The PhD candidate will acquire a wide range of skills important in the field of biomaterials development and testing.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Bench fees of £8,000 p/a also apply for this particular project. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry Requirements

General Admissions

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in biomedical sciences, immunology, microbiology or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Marta Roldo () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code:PHBM5311024


Chemistry (6) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).
Bench fees
Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Bench fees of £8,000 p/a also apply for this particular project. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Register your interest for this project


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