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Smart biomaterials: developing the next generation of biomaterial structural characterisation

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Prof Lorna Dougan, Dr A Tyler  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Folded protein hydrogels are an exciting new class of biomaterial which possess specific biological functionality, enabling dynamic changes in mechanical and structural properties in response to biomolecular cues. At Leeds we use a unique cross length scale approach to translate knowledge of the nanoscale biophysics of folded proteins to the mesoscale architecture and function of the biomaterial. This new project will involve the development of a suite of new experimental tools for measuring the structure and mechanics of hydrogels during network formation. The student will join a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at Leeds and at the Diamond Light Source. Using a Small angle x-ray scattering instrument at Leeds we will investigate the biomaterials structural design space by tuning the protein volume fraction, cross-link density and location. Using our state of the art off-line SAXS/WAXS Leeds/ Diamond instrument as well as large scale facilities we will measure the dynamic structural transformation of the protein solution into a cross-linked protein network. This requires a rapid frame acquisition and would allow us to capture the in situ gelation process for the first time. A novel aspect of the project is the development of an in situ illumination rig to gel the sample in the beam at Diamond. Finally, to explore the potential of the protein hydrogels for targeted drug delivery we will measure the structure of hydrogels containing microbubbles and determine the impact of their bursting due to ultrasound. 

Funding Notes

A highly competitive EPSRC Bragg Centre Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently £17,668 in academic session 2022/23) for 3.5 years. This opportunity is open to all applicants. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Bragg Centre Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.

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