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PhD in Engineering: Development of devices for organs-on-a-chip

Project Description

The School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting 3/3.5-year PhD project entitled ‘Development of devices for organ-on-a-chip’ within the Division of Biomedical Engineering under the supervision of Prof Nikolaj Gadegaard.

There is great demand for better and more accurate models to test new drugs as well as repurposing existing drugs. Currently, new drugs need to undergo animal testing prior to clinical trials. This is associated with ethical concerns as well as inaccuracies from the different animal models due to significant differences in the physiology between animals and humans. With the rapid development of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) it has opened up for new opportunities in the availability of organ specific cells which are not readily available as primary cells, e.g. liver, cardiac, pancreas etc. Moreover from a pharmaceutical perspective, drug development of rare deceases is difficult due to the availability of donors. However, through preprogramming of adult cells and genetic editing using CRISPR/CAS it is now possible to develop tissue equivalents from such patients.

You will be working with world leading facilities at the cutting edge of micro- and nanomanufacturing to create microfluidic devices designed to for organ-on-a-chip. Such devices have the ability to revolutionise the development of new drug discoveries individual patients as well as development of drugs for rare deceases. The project will cover the entire workflow from design and fabrication through to device testing. The project is part of a large Centre for Excellence based at Oslo University with partners at Imperial College London too.

Design and modeling
You will design microfluidic devices for organ-on-a-chip applications using the relevant CAD software. The different designs will be modeled using finite element models (COMSOL) to understand flow patterns, gas distribution (CO2 and O2), small molecule concentrations, etc.

Manufacturing of injection moulded devices
The devices will be manufacturing using both 3D printing and more traditional microfabrication techniques. The Gadegaard group has developed techniques for rapid manufacturing of tooling for injection moulding using 3D printing. You will work with research staff to manufacture the designed devices for testing and collaboration with project partners.

Testing of the devices
The parameters modeled above, will be experimentally verified in the labs at University of Glasgow. Some biological work will be done in Glasgow although, the majority of the biological tests and organ incorporation will be done will collaborators in Norway. Here the devices will best tested for organs such as the liver and pancreas.

You will acquire skills in the area of microfabrication, manufacturing and modeling. During the project, You will have the opportunity to travel to the respective labs and take part in the experiments.

Funding Notes

The studentship is supported by the EU’s Interreg programme, and it will cover home tuition fees and provide a stipend of £14,777 per annum for 3 years.

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