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  High-throughput biomaterials discovery


   Department of Chemistry

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Polymer biomaterials have revolutionised a range of areas from drug delivery, to antimicrobials, to cellular cryopreservation. There are 1000’s of possible monomer combinations, molecular weights and architectures to be explored, and even small differences can dramatically change their properties. This creates the challenge of how can all these structures be screened to ‘fish’ for new properties?

We have previously deployed high-throughout photo-chemical RAFT polymerization to identified new co-polymers for antimicrobial (Chemistry: A European Journal., 2018, 24, 13758 ) and cell cryopreservation (ACS MacroLetters, 2020, 9, 290). We recently discovered the first ever polymer material to control phage-infection in bacteria, as an example: Journal of The American Chemical Society, 2023, 145

This PhD will use modern controlled radical, and ring-opening, polymerization methods to obtain chemically diverse polymer libraries. This will be conducted directly within micro-well plates, which is the standard format for downstream high-throughput property testing. You will make use of liquid handling robots, and if required 3D print your own components, to digitise the process. Whilst there is not a single-target area for these libraries, we aim to use these to i) alter microbial factory phenotypes for speciality chemical production; ii) identify new ice-binding domains; iii) new cryoprotectants and many more. The role is mainly synthetic polymer chemistry, but the candidate will have the change to learn new skills in analytical chemistry, biomaterials and potentially cell/bacterial culture. 

Polymer biomaterials have revolutionised a range of areas from drug delivery, to antimicrobials, to cellular cryopreservation. There are 1000’s of possible monomer combinations, molecular weights and architectures to be explored, and even small differences can dramatically change their properties. This creates the challenge of how can all these structures be screened to ‘fish’ for new properties?

We have previously deployed high-throughout photo-chemical RAFT polymerization to identified new co-polymers for antimicrobial (Chemistry: A European Journal., 2018, 24, 13758 ) and cell cryopreservation (ACS MacroLetters, 2020, 9, 290). We recently discovered the first ever polymer material to control phage-infection in bacteria, as an example: Journal of The American Chemical Society, 2023, 145

This PhD will use modern controlled radical, and ring-opening, polymerization methods to obtain chemically diverse polymer libraries. This will be conducted directly within micro-well plates, which is the standard format for downstream high-throughput property testing. You will make use of liquid handling robots, and if required 3D print your own components, to digitise the process. Whilst there is not a single-target area for these libraries, we aim to use these to i) alter microbial factory phenotypes for speciality chemical production; ii) identify new ice-binding domains; iii) new cryoprotectants and many more. The role is mainly synthetic polymer chemistry, but the candidate will have the change to learn new skills in analytical chemistry, biomaterials and potentially cell/bacterial culture.

The GibsonGroup is moving to Manchester in Autumn 2023 and is based in brand new laboratories in the Department of Chemistry, and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. The group has dedicated facilities for organic/polymer synthesis, as well as cell culture, microbiology and advanced imaging (confocal microscopy), allowing a truly multidisciplinary approach to tackle globally important problems.

Read more here https://gibsongroupresearch.com

You must contact the main supervisor to discuss the application before you apply. The email address Professor Gibson is

Eligibility

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree or international equivalent, in a relevant science or engineering discipline or a first degree with an additional UK Masters degree (or international equivalent).

The duration of the PhD is 3.5 years and the proposed start date is 1st October 2023. Applicants may wish to start on 18th September to attend the Welcome Week.

How to apply 

To be considered for this project you’ll need to complete a formal application through our online application portal.

When applying, you’ll need to specify the full name of this project, the name of your supervisor, how you’re planning on funding your research, details of your previous study, and names and contact details of two referees.

Your application will not be processed without all of the required documents submitted at the time of application, and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

If you have any questions about making an application, please contact our admissions team by emailing .

Funding

At Manchester we offer a range of scholarships, studentships and awards at university, faculty and department level, to support both UK and overseas postgraduate researchers.

For more information, visit our funding page or search our funding database for specific scholarships, studentships and awards you may be eligible for.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact.

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder).

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

The 3.5 year degree is fully funded for UK applicants and covers the home fees and stipend for overseas applicants. The funding is from The Department of Chemistry and Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.
For more information, visit our funding page or search our funding database for specific scholarships, studentships and awards you may be eligible for, or contact Prof Gibson for further advice.

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