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A 3.5-year PhD studentship in Shape Variant Nanoparticles for Pathogen Sensing

Project Description

Supervisors: Prof Nguyen TK Thanh (UCL), Dr. Dr Xiao Di Su (IMRE, A*STAR, Singapore)
Application deadline: 30 June 2018
Start Date: 24 September 2018
Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)
Topics: nanoparicles syntheis and functionalisaion, biomarkers, infectious dieases ,nanosenser,

The Studentship
This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the A*STAR xxxxx in Singapore. The Studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend £17,050 (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance. Please note that, due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU citizens are eligible for this studentship.

The Project
Infectious diseases are tenacious and major public-health problem all over the world. This collaborative project aims to integrate chemical synthesis, characterisation of nanomaterials and microfluidic device fabrication for plasmonic nanosensors for the detection of pathogens.
Nanomaterials exhibit unique physical and chemical properties related to their nanoscale sizes. They are important signal transducing materials in biosensor development. For diagnosis, nanosensors have great potential for on-site rapid detection, with the remaining challenges to be overcome, for example, ultrahigh sensitivity requirement for known analytes, identification of unknown analytes, compatibility with various types of sample matrix, and on-site implementation etc. This project aims to address these challenges, focusing on the development of plasmonic metal nanoparticles based sensing techniques.
The scopes include (1) developing highly sensitive plasmonic nanostructures through bottom up synthesis, coupled with novel biomarkers for high sensitivity detection in saliva, urine and blood (e.g. dengue virus, or antibodies). We will identify the appropriate antibody/antigen pairs for different diagnostic tests (clininal management of diseases, or for monitoring and surveillance). (2) studying nanoplasmonic enhanced spectroscopy (e.g. Raman and anti-stokes Raman) for analyte identification, (3) Integrate the functionalized NPs in multichannel microfluidic device (4) Testing sensors for home use using low-cost paper format.
Prof Thanh has extensive experience in synthesis, functionalization of nanoparticles (noble metal, e.g. Au, Ag and magnetic nanoparticles).1,2 Tunable gold nanorods with high monodispersity have been obtained for various sensing applications.3 Dr Su Xiaodi (a Senior Scientist at IMRE) has long standing experience in nanosensor development for fundamental research,7 and medical diagnosis.4,5 Prof Lisa Ng (Senior Principal Investigator, SIgN), a collaborator, is a top scientist in infectious disease focusing on the immune responses of arboviruses that are epidemic or highly endemic in the tropical region.
In this project, the student will receive training from Prof Thanh’s lab on bottom up synthesis and from Dr Su’s lab on biofunctionalization and diagnostic test development targeting to diagnostic markers and prognostic markers developed in Prof Lisa Ng’s lab. The analytical problem statements (specific bacteria strains and toxins etc) will directly come from Dr Lisa Ng’s lab.

The Candidate
The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, immunology or material science. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.
Please contact Prof Nguyen TK Thanh () for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until the deadline but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found. So please send your CV with detailed marks for high school, BSc and MSc as soon as possible. Due to large number of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Funding Notes

UCL MAPS Faculty provides student stipend for year 1 and for first 6 months of year 4 (total 1.5 years at standard Research Council level).
A*STAR provides student stipend (S$2,500/month) and project consumables for research in Singapore (years 2 and 3).
A*STAR provides student with one-off relocation allowance of S$1,000, a one-time airfare grant of S$1,500 plus medical insurance.


1. Thanh, N. T. K., Rosenzweig, Z. (2002). Development of an aggregation based immunoassay for anti-protein A using gold nanoparticles. Analytical Chemistry 74, 1624-1628. Impact Factor: 5.9, Citation: 348 by 2/2015
2. Thanh, N. T. K. (Ed.) (2012). Magnetic Nanoparticles: From Fabrication to Clinical Applications. 22 chapters, 616 Pages. Boca Raton, London, New York: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis
3. R. M. Pallares, X. Su, S. H. Lim, Thanh, N. T. K., Fine-Tuning Gold Nanorods Dimensions and Plasmonic Properties Using the Hofmeister Salt Effects. Journal of Material Chemistry C. 2015, 4, 53-61 (Front Cover).
4. Su, X. D.,* and Kanjanawarut, R., Control of metal nanoparticles aggregation and dispersion using PNA and PNA-DNA complexes, and its use for colorimetric DNA detection. ACS Nano 2009, 3, 2751–2759.

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