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Injectable and heart-adhesive shape-memory patch for the delivery of cardiac cells

   National Heart and Lung Institute

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  Prof Molly Stevens, Prof C Terracciano  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentship starting in October 2022 at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) in partnership with the Bioengineering Department at Imperial College.

Students will join a well-established doctoral training program with bespoke teaching activities, seminars, mentors and workshops.

The Cardiovascular Sections of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, are located within the Main Campus at South Kensington, the Brompton Campus and Hammersmith/White City Campus. Bioengineering is also located at Main Campus at South Kensington and at White City. Students will have the opportunity to work in state of the art facilities within a highly developed research environment where our ambition is to translate research findings to help those with cardiovascular diseases. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

Project summary

The BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentships typically comprises a 1-year MRes in Biomedical Research, followed by a 3-year PhD. During the MRes year, students undertake two laboratory projects which will prepare them for the PhD.

The project will be performed jointly between the Department of Bioengineering, under the supervision of Prof. Molly Stevens (The Stevens Group), located in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the South Kensington Campus; and the supervision of Prof. Cesare Terracciano, based in the National Heart and Lung Institute, Hammersmith Campus at Imperial College London. The overall project focuses on the study of an injectable and adhesive shape-memory patch for minimally invasive delivery of cardiomyocytes surrogates and their progenitors. This aims to replace the conventional implantation of cardiac patches via open-chest surgery, a major surgical procedure, highly associated to local and systemic adverse effects that may disturb the proper recovery of the injured heart and the patient. The MRes has been organized into two projects focused on the synthesis of biologically responsive polymers and the development of an injectable memory-shape patch that can recover its shape and adhere to the heart tissue. The PhD project will focus on the study of the implantation, biological integration and performance of the cardiac patch ex vivo and in myocardial infarct (MI) pre-clinical models. The quality of our training programme relies in the support, interdisciplinary expertise, resources and infrastructure available in The Stevens Group, Prof. Terracciano Group and the BHF - Centre for Research Excellence, that include state-of-the-art cell culture labs, imaging cores, fabrication facilities and unique characterization tools. 

Applicant Requirements

Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements.

Due to de multidisciplinary nature of the project, no specific degree is required but applicant is expected to have solid understanding in polymer chemistry, fabrication of biomaterials and basic experience in cell-based work and biomechanics. Laboratory training and experience on any of these areas is highly desirable but not essential. Students will be trained in polymer synthesis, scaffold fabrication techniques and cutting-edge techniques for chemical and mechanical characterization. Students will also learn to perform cell-based assays, electrophysiology and relevant techniques. The student is expected to develop independence and proactivity, but also foster critical thinking via scientific discussion, use of literature and experimental planning. Student will improve science communication skills through presentations and data reporting, but also participate in conferences and workshops to encourage collaboration, networking and peer validation.

How to Apply

To apply, please email Jaya Rajamanie ([Email Address Removed]) with the following documents.

  • Your CV
  • The names and addresses of at least two academic referees.
  • A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in the project and ensure that you specify your degree classification for your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Selected candidates will get a tour of the relevant campus. Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.

Closing date for all applications: 20th February 2022

Interviews will be held online at the end of March.

Funding Notes

Studentships will cover tuition fees (at the Home/EU rate) and a tax-free stipend starting from £22,278 per annum for a total of 4 years. Students will join a well established doctoral training program with bespoke teaching activities, seminars, mentors and workshops. In addition, there is a consumable allowance £4000 per student for the MRes year (plus the additional in-course £2500 per MRes project) for both BHF, Endowment and Department funded studentships and £10,000 (BHF funded studentship) and £5000 (Department studentship) per PhD year. A travel fund of £1000 in total per student will be provided.
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