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Exosome-based diagnostic device for early cancer detection

   Department of Chemical Engineering

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  Dr Sandhya Moise, Dr H Leese  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Bath United Kingdom Bioinformatics Biomedical Engineering Cancer Biology Cell Biology Chemical Engineering Nanotechnology Materials Science Physical Chemistry

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project commencing in January 2022.

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for ‘Home’ fee status. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the rules governing fee status have changed and, therefore, candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. Please see the Funding Eligibility section below for more information.


Project team: Dr Sandhya Moise, Dr Hannah Leese

Informal queries should be directed to Dr Sandhya Moise - [Email Address Removed]


Early detection significantly increases survival rate in cancer patients. For patients with ovarian cancer diagnosed at stage 3 or higher, their 5-year survival rate is below 30%. If detected at stage 1, this increases to > 90%. However, early detection of ovarian cancer is challenging due to lack of unique symptoms of disease onset dictating a clear need for a screening test.

This project will develop a device for the early detection of ovarian cancer. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are spherical structures secreted by all cells in the body including cancer cells. They play a key role in cell-to-cell communication and are linked to the onset and progression of different types of cancers. Recent research show promise of using EVs secreted by ovarian cancer cells as a marker for the early detection of the disease. This is possible as the EVs carry signatures specific to the parent cancer cells. However, due to their small size and broad size distribution (10-150 nm) there are challenges involved in their rapid isolation and profiling.

By bringing together advances in the field of microfluidics, membranes and EV biology, the project will develop a diagnostic chip with high sensitivity and low noise for early ovarian cancer detection. The specific aim of this research project is to optimize the device design for efficiently capturing and detecting levels of ovarian cancerderived EV from laboratory as well as patient blood samples. In addition, we will characterize the EV populations to link their biological characteristics to ovarian cancer progression.

This doctoral project has a strong multidisciplinary nature and the candidate should have an interest in Microfluidics, cell and cancer biology. They will gain training in a variety of topics and technologies including aseptic mammalian (cancer) cell-culture, molecular and cell biology techniques, microfluidic device fabrication, membrane fabrication. Hands-on training will be provided as appropriate to the project.

The successful applicant will be a part of the University of Bath’s Centre for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) and the Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices (C3Bio). The project is also in close collaborations with the Royal United Hospital, Bath and Loughborough University.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or equivalent degree from a non-UK top-tier University) (for URSA/EPSRC)


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Expected start date: 17 January 2022


Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for a studentship, you must qualify as a ‘Home’ student. The UK Government has not yet published the relevant Fee Regulations for courses commencing in 2021/22; however, our current understanding is that the main categories of students likely to qualify for ‘Home’ fees are (subject to confirmation by the UK Government):

·        UK nationals (meeting residency requirement*)

·        Irish nationals resident in the UK/Ireland since at least September 2018

·        EU/EEA applicants with settled or pre-settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (meeting residency requirement*)

·        Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK (meeting residency requirement*)

*Residency requirement: in most cases applicants must have lived in the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland continuously since September 2018.

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.

Up-to-date information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage and on the UKCISA website

Funding Notes

A studentship includes ‘Home’ tuition fees, a stipend (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum) for up to 3.5 years.
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