EPSRC DTP Studentship: Optimisation of a biodegradable microneedle array
Microneedles are devices that use micron sized needles to deliver drugs across biological barriers, such as the skin, in a simple to use and pain free manner. Microneedles can be manufactured using a range of materials. Biodegradable polymers, loaded with the desired drug, have been used to provide sustained delivery of medications including contraceptives. Designing functional biodegradable microneedles requires careful design and optimisation of needle geometry, the material properties of the polymer and the method of application. There are several other related considerations including the method of manufacture.
This interdisciplinary project between the Schools of Engineering and Pharmacy will use advanced computational modelling techniques and experimental testing to optimise the design of a biodegradable microneedle array. Computational modelling will include developing methods to model needle insertion. This is a complex and challenging element of computational modelling, and as such new approaches may be developed, incorporating fundamental research alongside medical device development. Experimental techniques will be used to validate computational modelling results.
Within the first 12 months the successful candidate will conduct a thorough literature review, develop simple computational models and gain experience within the field of optical strain measurement techniques and experimental mechanics. The 2nd year will focus on creating a more advanced model incorporating needle insertion to optimise the microneedle array and validation on phantom skins, and the 3rd year will focus on experimental testing in human skin to validate the modelling work. The candidate is expected to complete the PhD within 3.5 years.
The successful applicant will join a cross disciplinary team, working between the Schools of Engineering and Pharmacy at Cardiff University. The team have an established track record within the area of microneedles including journal publications and related funding of $3.5M from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to develop a six month duration microneedle contraceptive patch. By joining Cardiff University, the successful applicant will help to build on successful REF 2014 results, where Cardiff came top 5 in the UK for research excellence. Furthermore, the applicant will receive training in computational modelling and experimental skin testing techniques and have access to training courses as part of the doctoral training academy. The successful applicant will be embedded within the Tribology and Applied Mechanics research group. The whole group meets fortnightly to present research and discuss ideas, whilst those engineers and pharmacists working on the BMGF project also meet fortnightly to facilitate multi-disciplinary working.
Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/engineering ) including;
• an upload of your CV
• a personal statement/covering letter
• two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school)
• Current academic transcripts
Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), with a start date of October 2020.
In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, reference RP-DTP-2020
Start Date: October 2020.
3.5 years Full Time
This studentship is open to Home or EU students who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship. Other EU students may also be eligible for a limited number of full awards
Tuition fees at the home/EU rate (£4,407 in 2020/21) and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates (£15,285 stipend for academic year 2020/21), plus support for travel/conferences/consumables.
Please contact Dr Rhys Pullin ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Hayley Wyatt ([Email Address Removed]) to informally discuss this opportunity