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Skin patch biosensor for biomarkers’ measurement (COB23/EE/MPEE/WU)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Qiang Wu  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a funded studentship covering a monthly stipend and tuition fees.

Traditional wearable sensors mainly monitor physical parameters, such as heartbeat, breath rate, body movement, and blood pressure, which can assist to provide basic health monitoring for individuals. It has become increasingly common for biometric information on medical conditions have to be used for underlying health issues (e.g., diabetes) or to prevent co-morbidities (e.g., the Leaf pressure sensor used to avoid pressure ulcers). Furthermore, disease monitoring science has also developed new understanding of the value of detecting and monitoring biochemical markers in many types of bodily fluids.

The current technologies such as Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy either cannot detect biomarkers or isn’t wearable. There is a need for the generation-after-next wearable technologies, which are small and lightweight, as well as having enhanced detection capabilities such as rapid and accurate identification and quantification of the low concentrations of biomarkers to help in the early diagnostic of diseases in a continuous manner.

Functionalised fibre optic sensor (FOS) can be a promising solution to overcome the above challenges due to its unparalleled advantages such as high sensitivity, fast response, continuous detection, small size, immunity to the electromagnetic field interference, low spark risk, robustness to surrounding environments, and the potential for remote sensing. Meanwhile, the development of microfluidic patches allows FOS to be integrated into a skin patch, which is wearable. The seamless integration of FOS and microfluidic skin patch proposed in this project will thus provide a potential solution for high sensitivity, wearable and continuous monitoring of biomarkers.

The aim of this project is to develop a new flexible and conformable wearable patch for rapid and real-time continuous monitoring of several biomarkers in sweat, which is low-cost and simple to operate. The key challenges of the project are (i) design, fabrication, and optimisation of the fibre biosensor for simultaneous measurement of multiple biomarkers; (ii) develop high efficiency micropillar skin patch; and (iii) integrate the developed OFS into the microfluidic skin patch. The objectives of this project include:

1.      Design and develop an optical fibre biosensor system - To simultaneously identify and quantify two different biomarkers. Two ultra-high sensitivity fibre sensors will be fabricated and functionalised with two different antibodies. As an example, the developed biosensor will detect two different biomarkers TNF-α and interleukin - 6 in a continuous monitoring method for 1-4 hours.

2.      Design and develop a fibre biosensor integrated skin patch – will have excellent adhesion properties and efficient microfluidics for biomarker sampling. The soft polymer-based skin patch will act as a matrix for fibre sensors embedding with high body compliance, thus allowing fibre cleaning through a microfluidic circuitry, and easy connection of fibre sensor to an optical read-out system.

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Dr Qiang Wu. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed].u. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Eligibility Requirements

This scholarship is aimed at potential researchers from underrepresented groups in Higher Education. We therefore ask applicants in the personal statement section how they may fit such a criteria, and to outline how this scholarship will allow them to study a PhD, which they may have not been otherwise able to access (maximum 500 words).

Examples of eligible applicants for the scholarship may include, but are not limited to:

Academic eligibility criteria consists of:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student. Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply and the application form, click the link below  

For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words, your 500-word personal statement and the advert reference (e.g. COB23/…).

Deadline for applications: 14 July 2023

Start date of course: 01 October 2023

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers.

Funding Notes

This opportunity is only open to applicants who would be classed as 'Home' students. The studentship includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2023/24 full-time study this is £18,622 per year) and full tuition fees.

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