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MASTERS BY RESEARCH PROJECT Bioengineering platelets for Blood Transfusions


Project Description

Start 23 September 2019

This MSc by Research is a laboratory-based project which offers the exciting opportunity to spend 1 year in one of our State-of-the-Art laboratories (plus 1 year thesis writing) at the University of Bristol and experience life as a researcher. You will be working with one of our cutting-edge research groups where you will learn new skills and techniques, including experimental design and implementation, data analysis and scientific writing.

Platelets are essential elements of the blood responsible for primary haemostasis. It is clear, however, that their role is much wider than just this, playing a critical element in aspects of angiogenesis, wound healing, tissue regeneration, tumour growth and metastasis and inflammation. Their loss or dysfunction can therefore impact in a variety of pathophysiological conditions. In humans, a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) can result from either increased loss (destruction or traumatic) or decreased generation of platelets. In either case therapeutic strategies need to include mechanisms to increase the generation of platelets in the body, and/or to administer exogenous platelets by transfusion. Our current lack of understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of platelet generation are a significant hindrance to achieving these therapeutic strategies efficiently. We have recently made significant progress challenging the current understanding of platelet production from their precursor cells, megakaryocytes, in vivo however, using state-of-the-art intravital microscopy and electron microscopy (http://www.life-science-alliance.org/content/1/2/e201800061).

Additionally, we have made a breakthrough in generating platelets in vitro in a novel microfluidic system. This already produces significant numbers of functional platelets from their precursor megakaryocytes, which is extremely encouraging. A significant bioengineering challenge lies ahead now to optimize the features of this flow system to enhance the numbers and functionality of the platelets that are produced. The work will involve a significant amount of detailed live cell fluorescence microscopy, electron microscopy, some cellular biochemistry and flow channel engineering. The project will use both human and mouse-derived stem cells, engineered to generate megakaryocytes as precursors for platelet production.

The value of the study will be to uncover novel determinants of platelet production in humans, which will provide insight into the causes of thrombocytopaenia and pave the way for efficient generation of platelets in vitro for blood transfusion purposes. These are major goals for the whole field at present and would make a major advance in our understanding of fundamental mechanisms, but also provide a significant step on the way to clinical transfusion of bioengineered platelets.

Please visit the UOB/faculty of Life Sciences/ School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience/ postgraduate studies website for the complete list of available MSc by Research projects.

Funding Notes

This is a one-year, self-funded Masters (MSc) by research. Fees are £4300 (UK/EU Fee) and bench costs are £5000. Applicants should have (or expect to receive) the equivalent of a First or Upper second-class honours degree in a biomedical discipline.

When applying please select the Faculty of Life Sciences, MSc by Research, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Bristol in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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