New strategies to cryopreserve cell-based therapies

   Department of Chemistry

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

In the past decade, cell-based therapies have emerged to transform the treatment of disease, particularly cancer. Whilst potent, these therapies are challenging to deliver in practise as must be stored frozen (cryopreserved). Current cryopreservation strategies do not give 100 % cell recovery after thawing, and make use of organic solvents such as DMSO, or glycerol, which are often transfused with the cells.

The GibsonGroup has pioneered innovative cryopreservation technology, including the development of polymers which mimic ‘antifreeze proteins’. See our review: Nature Reviews Chemistry, 2022, 6, 579

Our aim is to re-think how cells are stored, using a unique combination of chemistry, biophysics and cryobiology, to make therapies safer, cheaper and easier to use.

This PhD will explore an exciting question of ‘can we cryopreserve cells with NO organic solvents’. This is a long standing cryobiological problem with few adequate solutions, which are scalable enough to be used. The successful candidate will use a range of emerging tools from our laboratory to aid the cellular uptake of potent cryoprotectants, which currently fail due to their low membrane permeability, as well as targeting specific apoptotic (programmed cell death) pathways. This will include using our high-content microscopy platform to allow screening.

This project will be predominantly cell-biology based, but will be part of a larger team of chemists and microbiologist working on this problem, as part of our €2M ERC grant.

The GibsonGroup is moving to Manchester in Autumn 2023 and is based in brand new laboratories in the Department of Chemistry, and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. The group has dedicated facilities for organic/polymer synthesis, as well as cell culture, microbiology. We also have advanced imaging (confocal microscopy), flow cytometry and custom-built cryo-microscopes allowing a truly multidisciplinary approach to tackle globally important problems.

Read more here

You must contact the main supervisor to discuss the application before you apply. The email address Professor Gibson is

The duration of the PhD IS 3.5 year and the start date is any time from 1st October 2023.


Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2.1 honours degree or a master’s in a relevant science or engineering related discipline.

If you have any questions about making an application, please contact our admissions team by emailing .

How to apply:

You will need to submit an online application through our website here:

When you apply, you will be asked to upload the following supporting documents: 

• Final Transcript and certificates of all awarded university level qualifications

• Interim Transcript of any university level qualifications in progress

• CV

• You will be asked to supply contact details for two referees on the application form (please make sure that the contact email you provide is an official university/ work email address as we may need to verify the reference)

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

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

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year PhD is fully funded by ERC (tuition fees and stipend).

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Chemistry?

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

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