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Understand keratin hair fibre damage using mass spectrometry based proteomics and surface analysis techniques

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Collins
    Prof Graham Leggett
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The use of hair treatments is common across many countries in the world. These can involve a reactive chemical treatment in order to modify hair keratins and are often detrimental to hair structure and composition. Restorative proteins and protein hydrolysates from many sources are frequently added to hair care formulations as they have been proven to penetrate into the hair’s cortex and in some cases have been shown to modify the physical and even moisture binding properties of hair. However, very little information is available regarding the protein composition of hair and it is not known to any degree of certainty which proteins are damaged or lost from hair as a consequence of chemical treatments and if these can be replaced by similar, or identical peptide sequences to restore the properties of the hair.

The project will use state of the art mass spectrometry-based proteomics to characterise the protein composition of hair and determine which proteins are lost or modified due to the use of damaging treatments. This compositional data will be correlated to changes in hair structure measured using surface analysis techniques. Furthermore, the extent to which restorative proteins and protein hydrolysates have been delivered to hair fibres and have replaced lost proteins and how this affects hair fibre structure will be determined.
The successful candidate will be trained in protein biochemistry and analytical chemistry techniques (under the supervision of Dr Mark Collins, biOMICS Facility ( to detect, identify and quantify proteins extracted from or remaining within hair fibres. The student will also have the opportunity to apply a number of surface analysis approaches such as Atomic Force Microscopy (under the supervision of Prof. Graham J. Leggett, Sheffield Surface Analysis Centre ( to characterise the physical consequences of hair damage and the effectiveness of new treatments. This PhD will include a placement (6-9 months) at CRODA’s research centre near Liverpool (Widnes).

Croda is the name behind the high-performance ingredients in some of the biggest, most successful brands in the world, creating products that are relied on by industries and consumers worldwide. The company has approximately 3500+ employees working across 18 manufacturing sites and in offices in over 30 countries. Market sectors served include Personal Care, Crop Care, Home Care, Health Care, Geo Technologies, Industrial Chemicals, Polymer Additives, Coatings and Polymers and Lubricants.

Funding Notes

Fully funded 4-year PhD project in collaboration with CRODA (BBSRC industrial CASE award with an enhanced stipend). European/UK Students Only.

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