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  Peptide-based nanoparticles for brain targeted gene delivery

   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr Emma McErlean  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Gene therapy has the potential to provide therapeutic benefit to millions of people with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Delivery into the brain is hampered by the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which limits the efficacy of both conventional and novel therapies at the target site. Therefore, innovative delivery strategies are required and nanoparticles (NPs) are at the forefront of future solutions. This project will focus on engineering of peptide-based NPs to efficiently deliver therapeutic agents to the brain, overcoming the restrictive properties of the BBB.

Right from the start the PhD student will be involved in academic research designed to have translational/clinical application. This dual approach spans:

1) Research Skills: the academic supervisors will ensure excellent training in nanoparticle formulation, systematic physical characterisation, in vitro cell and molecular biology techniques and potentially in vivo skills.

2) Record keeping & monitoring: Monthly meetings with the student will take place with electronic records. Students must also complete a 3-month initial review and annual progress review to proceed to years 2 & 3. The annual progress review involves written work, presentation and/or mini viva. However, at each of these meetings, the primary supervisor will also be present ensuring that the maximal training benefit can be derived from these processes.

3) Additionally, there will be opportunities to present at academic meetings, building professional networks, personal development on courses for animal licenses, advanced statistics, skills which are all relevant to subsequent employment opportunities.

Impact activities include but are not restricted to presenting the research to academic and industry peers through scientific conferences and students from different disciplines through the Graduate School. The student will also engage with patients, clinicians and key stake holders through a series of webinars/focus groups to understand how they can feed and shape the research plan. Other impact activities relate to commercialisation though IP protection processes, competitor analysis and engagement with clinical collaborators.

Home applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

1st or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline.

International applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

IELTS (or equivalent) of 7.0, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a master’s degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants should apply through the University's Direct Application Portal:

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12) Medicine (26)
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 About the Project