School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering invites applications for a self-funded PhD project that aims to address the challenges of Osteoarthritis (OA) through developing advanced photocurable cartilage-mimicking biomaterials.
Summary of the Project
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease of individual joints typically due to wear and tear of articular cartilage (the rubber-like padding that protects the ends of bones at the joints), eventually leading to total cartilage loss and hindering physical mobility. In the United Kingdom, approximately 8.75 million individuals suffer from OA which places a significant burden on patients, healthcare systems (i.e. the NHS), and the UK economy. In adults, injured or worn cartilage has little capacity for self-healing, largely due to its avascular nature and the low intrinsic density of chondrocytes (cells present in the joints), responsible for the synthesis of cartilage components (i.e. collagen, hyaluronic acid). If left untreated, OA usually develops.
Unfortunately, current surgical options for cartilage repair are often highly invasive, associated with high costs, and are not recommended for patients with small defects or who have had previous surgery. Tissue engineering has presented an ideal strategy to regenerate cartilage by offering a scaffolding for chondrocytes to proliferate and acting as a depot for biological factors required by cells. However, a highly invasive implantation process and inadequate integration with adjacent cartilage tissue have rendered current scaffolding materials less viable for widespread clinical applications, compared to other therapies.
This project aims to address the above challenges by developing advanced photocurable cartilage-mimicking biomaterials that not only provide a mechanically stable substrate for chondrocytes to proliferate but also robustly adhere to neighbouring tissues. Furthermore, they exert biostimulatory effects, encouraging cellular deposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM). This new platform is a precisely designed hydrogel easily adapted to arthroscopic surgery, as opposed to open surgery, and can fill irregularly shaped cartilage defects, as opposed to current prefabricated implants.
Fabrication of tissue engineering scaffolds: To synthesize and functionalize biomaterials tailored for cartilage tissue engineering and integrate innovative approaches in cell culture, controlled release of bioactive agents, and in vitro /ex-vivo tissue models.
Data collection and analysis: To conduct experiments, perform data collection, and analyse experimental results using advanced statistical methods and data visualization tools.
Collaborative research: To collaborate with multidisciplinary teams, including engineers, biologists, and clinicians to integrate expertise and enhance research outcomes.
Literature Review: To stay up to date with the most recent advancements in biomaterials, micro-biofabrication, and treatment methods in the context of cartilage regeneration and actively contribute to the dissemination of knowledge through scholarly publications and presentations within the scientific community.
Project Management: Effectively manage research projects, ensuring deadlines are met and milestones are achieved in a well-organised manner; Actively participate in training other researchers in the lab.
For informal enquires related to this project, please contact Dr. Pooya Davoodi by email: [Email Address Removed]
Full applications MUST be sent to: [Email Address Removed]
Please include in your application package:
Cover letter (max. 1 page), citing your research interests and motivation for this project
CV (with publication lists)
Two recommendation letters with contact information
Important note: This is a Self-Funded PhD position