The 4-year PhD project aims to address an important and challenging knowledge gap concerning new therapeutic modalities, such as monoclonal antibodies and cell therapies, that can potentially induce cardiac toxicity in the clinic (i.e., inflammatory cardiomyopathy and myocarditis). To better understand mechanisms underlying immune-mediated cardiotoxicity, there is a significant need to develop human-relevant microphysiological systems to model drug-mediated immune responses in the heart. The successful candidate will receive first-class training from the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) supervisors at the state-of-the-art biofabrication lab to assemble microvascularised cardiac tissues in microfluidic chips. In addition, the student will receive training by supervisors at AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK), and will gain expertise in building immune-competent models for drug safety applications. Importantly, the supervisory team have complementary expertise to train the PhD student to tackle the intellectual challenges in the project.
Additionally, the successful candidate will attend the yearly ITTP residential toxicology training course, and will have access to the MRC Toxicology Unit’s Masterclass seminar series. QMUL offers an outstanding research environment for this PhD studentship, with strengths in medicine, science, and engineering. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, the university was ranked 7th in the country for research quality. The collaboration between QMUL and the industrial partner will ensure that the student will be exposed to both organisations’ vibrant and inclusive research environments. Furthermore, during the placement at the industrial site, the student will have the opportunity to learn more about the entire drug development process and build expertise in safety pharmacology in the pharmaceutical industry.
Overall, the student will benefit from the interdisciplinarity of the project and the work undertaken at both the QMUL and industrial sites. Importantly, the knowledge gained during the PhD project may provide new insights into cardiovascular safety in drug development.
This award is based on the 2023/24 MRC UKRI inside London stipend guidance of: £20,622 per annum, fees for university registration of £4,712 per annum, £5,000 consumables per annum. The stipend and university registration fees are to be adjusted annually, as per UKRI recommendations, in line with the GDP deflator. Award value for 4 years: £121,420.
- Applicants must hold a 1st class or 2:1 degree in life, biomedical or bioengineering sciences. With a life-sciences degree, maths, statistics or computing modules at A-Level or above are desirable.
- Skills and knowledge matching the proposed area of doctoral research (Cardiovascular and Immunology)
- High motivation and a passion for research.
- To be eligible for full funding candidates will need to demonstrate that they have Home fee status.
- Evidence of proficiency in English language skills.
- Able to start by October 2024