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DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Cryogenic processing of retinal tissue using computational modelling

Project Description

Interested in computers, but also in biology? Then this project might be what you are looking for! The aim is to help researchers grow retinal tissue in the lab from stem cells. Such tissue can be used to treat patients with visual impairments. You will conduct wet-lab experiments, as well as use novel software and high-performance computers, in order to characterize how retinal tissue behaves during freezing and thawing.

Cryopreservation of biological tissue is in its infancy. State-of-the-art freezing and thawing techniques lead to tissue damage in anything larger than 1-3mm3. Above-freezing storage times of human organs range from approximately 3 to 24 hours - depending on organ - before becoming unviable. This lack of preservation capacity results in 2/3 of donor hearts and 4/5 of lungs being rejected for transplant for logistical reasons.

By improving our knowledge of how cryogenic processing affects retinal tissue, new methodologies for cryogenic processing will be studied. To this end, you will work together with experts in the field, conduct wet-lab experiments (i.e. grow and cryogenically process artificial retinal tissue from stem cells), learn to incorporate the results in detailed 3D computer simulations, and produce novel hypotheses that will generate better methodologies.

This project will enable you to gain highly interdisciplinary skills. You will be based at Newcastle University, while also doing visits to the partner institute Asymptote Ltd in Cambridge. There, you will learn the usage of the latest cryogenic processing hardware and techniques under co-supervision of Dr John Morris and Dr Peter Kilbride. Moreover, you will collaborate with computer scientists at CERN, and learn about the usage of a novel software platform called BioDynaMo for the simulation of biological tissue (https://biodynamo.web.cern.ch). Importantly, you will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team comprising experimental researchers and a computational modeller. You will also participate at weekly lab meetings of the supervisory team, and present your findings at international conferences and scientific journals.

Funding Notes

This studentship is part of the MRC Discovery Medicine North (DiMeN) partnership and is funded for 3.5 years. Including the following financial support:
Tax-free maintenance grant at the national UK Research Council rate
Full payment of tuition fees at the standard UK/EU rate
Research training support grant (RTSG)
Travel allowance for attendance at UK and international meetings
Opportunity to apply for Flexible Funds for further training and development
Please carefully read eligibility requirements and how to apply on our website, then use the link on this page to submit an application: View Website

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