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Self-assembling peptide hydrogels for large-scale organoid culture

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, October 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisory team: Dr Marianne Ellis (Dept of Chemical Engineering) and Dr Paul De Bank (Dept of Pharmacy & Pharmacology)

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Marianne Ellis ()

Cancer in its entirety accounts for 28% of deaths each year in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK data. To design better treatments for cancer, a new, patient-derived “organoid” (’mini organ’) model system has been developed for drug testing. The use of patient-derived organoids for pre-clinical testing will better predict efficacy in the clinic resulting in targeted treatments with minimal side-effects. This will result in a better quality of life and reduced morbidity for sufferers. The bottleneck to the widespread use of organoids is the current lack of ability to grow enough of them with consistent properties.

This study will be part of a larger project to develop a bioreactor technology to grow colorectal, breast and oesophageal organoids on a large enough scale - and of the uniform size and quality required – to meet the growing demand for their use in compound screening in drug discovery companies and research labs. In particular, this PhD will focus on developing a material to partly or wholly replace matrigel, the matrix material used to encapsulate and grow organoids. While biologically excellent, matrigel lacks mechanical integrity and cannot form self-supporting structures, is very expensive, and is animal derived. The research will develop interdisciplinary skills in biomaterials science and biochemical engineering to develop a novel self-supporting biomaterial for organoid culture, by creating self-assembling peptide hydrogels utilising Manchester Biogel’s exciting new technology. The project will be working closely with the industrial partner, and the successful candidate will be expected to spend time at the company’s site.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: Applications will be reviewed for a January 2020 start date.

Funding Notes

Funding is for up to three and a half years. It includes UK/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,009 per annum (2019/0 rate). EU students are eligible for a full award if they have lived, worked or studied within the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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