The skin is a complex, multicellular tissue comprised of epithelial cells, fibroblasts, blood vessels, nerves, and dendritic cells. While existing organotypic skin models replicate the basic bi-layered structure of the epithelium and mesenchyme, modelling the complex and dynamic interaction with the immune system has proven extremely challenging. The overall aim of this interdisciplinary PhD studentship is to gain new insight into human-specific inflammatory responses within the skin through the development of a novel immune-responsive organotypic model. In collaboration with the industrial partner Kirkstall Ltd, the student will construct and validate a two-compartment model consisting of a 3D organotypic skin construct and an immune compartment joined by perfused cell culture medium. The specific objectives will be to (1) establish a 3D organotypic model of human skin within a fluidic culture platform, (2) Characterise immune infiltration and the response of resident skin cells when immune cells are perfused through the system. (3) Analyse the dynamic responses of immune and resident skin cells to chemical irritants and purified bacterial products, and (4) Investigate the molecular mediators involved in skin-immune system cross-talk.
The successful completion of this project will establish a next-generation model of human skin with immune-responsive capability and will provide an outstanding interdisciplinary training opportunity at the interface of skin biology, 3D culture models, bioengineering, and immunology. The student will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities within the Blizard Institute and Barts Cancer Institute. In addition, the student will gain industrial experience through a 3 month placement at Kirkstall Ltd, a UK-based SME developing fluidic culture systems for a range of different tissue models.
All applicants should hold a masters level degree at first /distinction level in biomedical sciences, bioengineering, or a related discipline. Applicants should have a good knowledge of English and ability to express themselves clearly in both speech and writing. The successful candidate must be strongly motivated for doctoral studies, must have demonstrated the ability to work independently and to perform critical analysis. Candidates are asked to possess fundamental knowledge and skills in two or more of the following areas:
• Excellent background in cell biology. Good knowledge of cell culture techniques, histology, gene and protein expression. • Prior experience/education in skin biology or immunology. • Hands on experience using 3D culture models, tissue engineering, or fluidic systems.