Microneedle delivery systems for minimally-invasive patient diagnosis/monitoring

   School of Pharmacy

  Prof Ryan Donnelly  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

In this project, a novel type of integrated system will be investigated that will by-pass the skin barrier. On its surface will be multiple microscopic needles that pierce the skin without causing any pain – the sensation is said to feel like a cat’s tongue or sharkskin. These microneedles will make tiny holes in the skin, and allow continuous outward movement of components of the skin interstitial fluid.  

As interstitial fluid concentrations often accurately reflect free concentrations of drugs and endogenous substances in blood plasma, the technology developed will allow frequent routine monitoring of patients. Accordingly, drug- and endogenous substance-associated adverse events and complications arising from blood sampling will be prevented, to the benefit of patients Worldwide. Ultimately, health-related-quality-of-life will be enhanced through improved disease control, rapid detection of dangerously high or low levels (eg drugs with narrow therapeutic windows, glucose in diabetes or phenylalanine in phenylketonuria), facile monitoring of adherence to prescribed regimens (eg treatment of tuberculosis in the Developing World) and detection of illicit substances in addicts or vehicle drivers. Bedside diagnosis of disease without time-consuming blood sampling will also be possible – Important in emergency and critical care situations. Preterm neonates, in particular, are likely to derive great benefit from the marked increase in monitoring frequency permitted. 

This project focuses on design, preparation, physicochemical characterisation and in vivo evaluation of sophisticated integrated systems based on novel microneedle arrays for minimally-invasive patient monitoring. The benefits to patients of the technology developed during this studentship will be profound. The student will work at the cutting edge of developments in a world-leading Research Group, with members from 16 different countries, thus greatly enhancing their skillset and ultimate employability. 

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to shortlist for interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high academic attainment to date. 

Postgraduate Research applicants must have applied to Queen’s, via the Direct Applications Portal. 





This interdisciplinary project will provide training in a range of analytical methods, design and assessment of novel delivery systems and biological models for assessment of the potential clinical efficacy of formulations. Furthermore, student training will take place within a highly active international research culture. In addition to laboratory based-skills, the student will also undergo training in research methodology and statistics and will have opportunities to develop both verbal and written communication skills. The student will publish their research in journal articles and present at both national and international conferences. The student will also have the opportunity to actively participate in a range of outreach activities in the community and gain teaching experience on our undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

Enhanced patient care and quality of life, economic development for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. The student’s CV will be enhanced through training with a leading international Group 

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Medicine (26)


Microneedles, antibodies, advanced therapeutics, drug delivery, pharmaceutical formulation

Register your interest for this project