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Investigating the effect of ‘vaping’ flavouring fluids on human lung cells and fresh water crustaceans

School of Applied Sciences

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Dr S Vass , Dr S Rueckert No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The use of electronic cigarettes or ‘vaping’ devices has dramatically increased in recent years. The number of users in the UK was estimated to be 3.2 million in 2018 (ASH, 2018). However, there is little scientific evidence surrounding the potential toxicity of vaping fluids and associated flavourings.
This MSc by Research project will investigate the toxicity of vaping fluids on human lung epithelial cells and the fresh water crustacean– Daphnia magna.
The successful candidate will gain experience in both human cell culture and working with an aquatic model system. They will be given training in a variety of molecular biology techniques including; RNA extraction, cDNA systhesis, end–point and real time PCR, Western blotting, immunofluorescent staining and confocal microscopy.
It is anticipated that this project will provide data for future funding applications and may be used to ascertain product safety margins.
For more information, follow the link provided to Edinburgh Napier University’s research degrees application process and scroll down to the ‘Masters by Research’ (MRes) section. Here you will find out more information about the programme of study, and the application process. The school to apply to is Applied Sciences.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Biological/Biomedical Sciences with a good fundamental knowledge of research methods appropriate for cell biology and behavioural analysis.

English Language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes
Experience of fundamental lab skills including; using equipment, data handling, microscopy, observing and recording.
Competent in research skills, lab maths, data analysis, and problem solving
Knowledge of cell culture, PCR, Western blotting
Good written and oral communication skills
Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project.
Good time management

Desirable attributes
The prospective candidate should have a strong desire to undertake a lab-based research project combining cell biology with a live aquatic model system. There will be opportunities to present your research at seminars and a post-graduate research conference, therefore public speaking and familiarity with presenting your work is desirable. Training and regular research progress meetings will occur for the duration on the MRes, however, due to the teaching commitments of the supervisory team, the candidate should have the ability to work autonomously.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded postion, although there is access to lab consuambles.


Lerner CA, Sundar IK, Yao H, Gerloff J, Ossip DJ, McIntosh S, et al. (2015) Vapors Produced by Electronic Cigarettes and E-Juices with Flavorings Induce Toxicity, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response in Lung Epithelial Cells and in Mouse Lung. PLoS ONE 10(2):e0116732.

Tierney PA, Karpinski CD, Brown JE, Luo W, Pankow JF. Flavour chemicals in electronic cigarette fluids. Tobacco control. 2016;25(E1):e10–e5. pmid:25877377
Jonczyk E. and Gilron G., 2005. Acute and chronic toxicity testing with Daphnia sp. In: Blaise C. and Férard J.-F. (eds.) Small-scale Toxicity Testing for freshwater Environments. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 337–394.
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