Projects

  • Below are example LifETIME studentship projects. This page will be update with the available studentship projects for session 2020/21 in early December 2019.

    ASTON

    Scale up and in vitro testing of exosomes for regenerative medicine applications

    Stem cell-secreted exosomes are gaining significant attention as a candidate therapeutic platform for 21st century healthcare. This is because a growing body of research into exosomes has revealed that they can drive desirable behavioural changes in target cells, modifying or reversing pathological processes. The potential applications of exosomes are broad and include cell-free regenerative medicine at one end of the spectrum and cancer therapeutic at the other. To fully understand the therapeutic repertoire of exosomes, it is necessary to systematically characterise exosome populations isolated from a range of different cell culture scenarios. Critical for commercial development, it is also necessary to generate exosomes in therapeutically relevant quantities, which requires the creation of a cell culture process that can be scaled up to deliver industrial quantities of exosome product. Using bench-scale bioreactors that mimic industrial bioreactor technologies, this project will draw on expertise across bioprocess engineering for regenerative medicines in order to scale up production of stem cells and their exosomes. It will then use microfluidics and analytics for in vitro testing of exosome potency. This can be achieved using automated, perfused cell culture devices that support in situ monitoring of how exosomes influence the behaviour of 3D microtissues. 3D microtissues will be created using cells and biomaterials to create self-assembled tissues. The microfluidic devices will result in minimal operator error and increased measurement consistency.

    Theme:

    Cell Sensing and Cell Testing Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Prof Ivan Wall

    Development of a 3D model of the cortex for the investigation of neurodegenerative diseases.

    Neurodegeneration cause a range of debilitating symptoms that current lack adequate treatments. In Alzheimer’s alone clinically approved treatments remain evasive and research is estimated to cost ~£23 billion per year, in the UK. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms of disease is limited by a lack of representative models. The aim of this project is to engineer 3D neuronal networks of human stem cell-derived neurons by generating defined tissue architectures that will allow modelling of network function and pathology in vitro.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Eric Hill

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Don Wellings (Spheritech)

    An In Vitro Model for Analysing Novel Biomaterials in Fracture Fixation

    This multi-disciplinary project will develop skills in biomedical engineering through the design and implementation of novel 3D in vitro models and testing methodologies for the analysis of wear debris from biomaterials used in fracture fixation. Fracture fixation plates are commonly used to repair bone fractures, however current materials have a high stiffness which allows healing but inhibits normal bone function. New polymeric materials are being developed to address this, however, the current methodologies for analysis of the effects of wear debris from these materials are either 2D in vitro tests, or involve the use of large animal models.
    The aim of this project is to design and implement novel in vitro models to analyse the effects of wear debris from these new biomaterials when used as a fracture fixation device, whilst providing an animal free testing platform upon which to achieve this. In order for the project to be successful, a mixture of engineering and biological techniques will be employed.
    Microfluidic devices will be fabricated that can house stem cell-phosphate glass biomaterial microcarriers that self-assemble into 3D tissue-like aggregates. The effect of wear debris on these tissues will be examined by analyzing cell proliferation, death, matrix deposition and osteogenic differentiation markers.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Laura Leslie

    Scaling-up of keratinocyte expansion for the treatment of large burn wounds.

    Skin constitutes the first line of defence against disease-causing organisms, but is susceptible to injury such as burns. Several hundred thousand people in the UK sustain burns every year, and hundreds are fatal. Most dangerously, the loss of the barrier to pathogens means that patients can succumb to overwhelming infection – sepsis – within a few weeks after injury.
    The gold standard for treatment is to remove the dead tissue surgically and resurface with new skin. Full-thickness skin grafts are rarely used because there are few donor sites on the body surface, and this thicker skin is less likely to pick up a blood supply at its recipient site. There are several commercially available skin substitutes to replace the epidermis/dermis, or both; however, these options are expensive and have not yielded any acceptable long-term clinical result yet.
    Recent advances utilise cell-based techniques – extracting biopsies from the patient’s skin, isolating keratinocytes and expanding them in laboratory culture. There are important limitations; time constraints, difficulties in achieving sufficient numbers for clinical application, and the possibility of instigating neoplastic change due to components added during the cell culture process.
    This project aims to overcome some of these challenges by implementing novel cell culture techniques in specialised bioreactors. The key aim is to advance culture techniques that allow an optimal, accelerated growth of keratinocytes from an autograft. These expanded keratinocytes will potentially be applied to seal burn wounds, reducing morbidity and mortality after large injuries.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Patricia P. Esteban

    Developing novel bioactive materials for bone cancer applications

    Survival for bone cancer patients is poor despite the aggressive combined use of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy. Secondary or metastasis cancers are particularly prevalent in bone tissue locations. To improve clinical outcomes, novel therapeutic materials are required.
    This interdisciplinary PhD project aims to develop and characterize new bioactive materials to improve clinical outcomes for patients suffering from bone cancer. Materials will developed to provide a control release of key metal ions to selectively induce tumour cell death and simultaneously stimulate new bone growth.
    The project will build on previous studies undertaken within our group. The successful candidate will undertake a series of in-vitro studies to fully characterise these materials with the aim of developing and optimising materials for clinical applications. The project will involve working with cell lines and primary patient tumours.

    Theme:

    Tissue Engineering Cell Testing Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Richard Martin

    BIRMINGHAM

    Towards development of Eye-Safe Multiplex Resonance Raman (ESMR2) Device for Point-of-Care Neurodiagnostics

    The PhD project is of an interdisciplinary nature and lies at the interface of bio-engineering, biophysics and medicine and will focus on developing and engineering new methods for improved, accurate detection and assessment of TBI as well as understanding, monitoring and controlling the cellular and tissue responses to therapeutical treatments. Overall aim will be focused towards development and implementation of advanced technology for in-vivo human eye-Safe mMultiplex resonance Raman (ESMR2) device for Point-of-Care nurodiagnostics. By diagnosing, monitoring and clinically evaluating treatments for TBI patients through better
    understanding of underlying mechanisms of the diseased tissue and organs (brain, eye), the outcomes of this research will lay a platform towards revolutionizing the ways we improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Dr Abigail Spear and Dr Chris Howle, (DSTL Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire)

    Creating a 3 dimensional skin substitute to model normal skin, wound healing and scarring using PODSTM technology

    Skin constitutes the first line of defence against disease-causing organisms, but is susceptible to injury such as burns. Several hundred thousand people in the UK sustain burns every year, and hundreds are fatal. Most dangerously, the loss of the barrier to pathogens means that patients can succumb to overwhelming infection – sepsis – within a few weeks after injury.
    The gold standard for treatment is to remove the dead tissue surgically and resurface with new skin. Full-thickness skin grafts are rarely used because there are few donor sites on the body surface, and this thicker skin is less likely to pick up a blood supply at its recipient site. There are several commercially available skin substitutes to replace the epidermis/dermis, or both; however, these options are expensive and have not yielded any acceptable long-term clinical result yet.
    Recent advances utilise cell-based techniques – extracting biopsies from the patient’s skin, isolating keratinocytes and expanding them in laboratory culture. There are important limitations; time constraints, difficulties in achieving sufficient numbers for clinical application, and the possibility of instigating neoplastic change due to components added during the cell culture process.
    This project aims to overcome some of these challenges by implementing novel cell culture techniques in specialised bioreactors. The key aim is to advance culture techniques that allow an optimal, accelerated growth of keratinocytes from an autograft. These expanded keratinocytes will potentially be applied to seal burn wounds, reducing morbidity and mortality after large injuries.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Professor Anthony Metcalfe

    Cell response to mechanical and biochemical cues embedded in a soft biocompatible material via microfluidics exploiting thermophoresis

    Current challenges in the field of tissue engineering are strongly limited by the availability of functionalised biocompatible materials that can provide the optimal substrate or scaffold to be used to guide the growth of cells. This proposal aims to exploit an innovative way to locally manipulate the mechanical properties and porosity of a soft material at the micron scale, and thus develop a new class of functionalised materials. This project will exploit thermophoresis (i.e., drift induced by a temperature gradient) in a microfluidic environment to induce a concentration gradient in a hydrogel by imposing a localised temperature gradient. The concentration gradient will then translate into a gradient of properties. This will enable us to generate biocompatible materials where to study the proliferation and differentiation of cells, and shine light on the mechanisms of wound healing and cancer invasion. Moreover, stiffer and softer regions will also have different porosity and ultimately a different degradation rate. This will be fully exploited to control the release of chemicals. In particular we will embed PODS into our functionalised matrix. These innovative proteins self-assembly developed by our industrial partner are capable of behaving as a cargo to deliver growth factors over time. We will study how to further control the release rate of the growth factors and how they will influence the cells fate.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering Cell Sensing and Cell Testing

    Primary supervisor:

    Daniele Vigolo

    Investigation and treatment of trabecular meshwork fibrosis using 3D glaucoma models.

    The development of safe and effective therapies to treat fibrosis is a major priority for patients with glaucoma. This ocular disease is characterised by elevated intraocular eye pressure (IOP), resulting from ineffective drainage of the aqueous humour. This in part is caused by the blockage of the aqueous humour outflow due to increased extracellular matrix deposition in the trabecular meshwork (TM). Over time, the increased pressure can damage structures in the eye resulting in vision loss. The lack of safe and effective anti-fibrotic treatments presents an important clinical challenge and therefore, there is a urgent unmet need to identify novel targets for anti-scarring drug development.
    Together with a team consisting of ocular biologists, biomaterial scientists, tissue engineers, and clinicians and, with both international (USA) and industrial placements (Cell Guidance Systems Ltd), this PhD project will develop, for the first time, state of the art in vitro and ex vivo human and porcine models to induce and treat scarring that occurs in the eye’s anterior segment in glaucoma. Once developed, these models will be used to screen new anti-scarring treatments suitable for further translation into the clinic.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Lisa J Hill

    Development of Advanced Integrated Endospectroscopic Sensing and Monitoring Devices for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): From tissue and biofluid discovery, through early-stage diagnostics and to personalized therapy

    The PhD project is of a highly interdisciplinary nature, and lies at the interface between biomedical engineering, biosciences and medicine. It will focus on developing and engineering new methods for improved, accurate detection and assessment of IBD lesions and tissue healing as well as understanding, monitoring and controlling the cellular and tissue responses to therapeutical treatments.
    The research will include development and engineering of novel, integrated endscopic and Raman techniques and tailored microfluidic lab-on-a-chip to enable early-detection of IBD and its disease activity, neoplastic changes and healing at nearly histological level and delivery of successful stratification and tailored therapy to individual patients. By restoring and maintaining diseased tissue and organs, the outcome of this research will lay a platform towards revolutionizing the ways we improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Cell Sensing and Cell Testing, Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer

    GLASGOW

    Advanced coatings to improve the bio-integration of vascular grafts

    Vascular grafts have been for 50 years the established practice for the replacement of any diseased segments of aorta from the aortic valve to the iliac bifurcation. Two of the main clinical problems of these medical devices are the risk of infection and risk of thrombotic stenosis due to the material’s pro-thrombogenic activity which typically lead to new surgeries. It has been hypothesised that the lack of endothelisation of these grafts could significantly contribute to these problems. This project will develop new bioactive coatings that can be applied on existing grafts to maximize the process of endothelisation and develop next generation of vascular grafts. The project will be developed between the University of Glasgow and Terumo Aortic – a world leader in the fabrication of vascular grafts. This is a multidisciplinary project that will work at the interface between materials and cells. The project will implement state-of-the art coating techniques to present bioactive molecules that promote the growth of endothelial cells on the wall of the vascular graft. The project will allow the student to develop skills in a number of experimental techniques including characterization of functional biomaterials, atomic force microscopy, confocal microscopy and cell and molecular biology at the interface between biomaterials and cells. It will also give them significant industrial exposure through close collaboration with and placements at the company.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Translation and Manufacturing

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Robbie Brodie, Terumo Arotic

    Organ-on-a-chip platforms for the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine

    For centuries, traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) have been used for disease treatment and interest in TCMs is growing globally. There are thousands of classic TCM formulas that provide an enormous reservoir to search for potent drugs. A typical example is the discovery of artemisinin from TCMs that inhibits Malaria by YouYou Tu (a 2015 Nobel laureate). However, despite a strong desire to explore the scientific basis for the action of numerous Chinese herbs and TCM formulas, knowledge has been limited due to the complexity of TCM and the lack of the progress in modernization of TCM research.

    This project aims to develop organ-on-a-chip in vitro models to study efficiency and actions of TCMs. These models can be easily personalized and recapitulate key structural and functional complexity of human organs. Therefore, they provide unprecedented power to create in vitro microphysiological 3D model for studying the dynamics of biological processes under physiological conditions. To achieve this, we will exploit our recently developed microfluidic 3D printing technology to develop biomimetic organoids and in vitro intestine models. These will be incorporated into purposely designed microfluidic devices, enabling high throughput toxicity screening and TCM pharmacological studies.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Cell Sensing and Cell Testing and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Professor Huabing Yin

    Droplet based microfluidics for probing the metabolom of cells

    Metabolites allow us to understand the phenotype of cells and they can act as powerful biological small molecule ‘drugs’. In this project, we will focus on the major regenerative cell type, the mesenchymal stem cell, as we understand that their metabolic profile changes as they differentiate and further understand that individual metabolites can cause desired differentiations.
    The student will exploit state-of-art microfluidic techniques to design and fabricate new prototypes and devices to probe the metabolome of different cell types. This encompasses the use of established methods like soft-lithography and molding but also requires gaining expertise in more advanced techniques combining microfluidics with optical, dielectrophoretic and acoustical setups. Droplet based microfluidics is essential and the key and the student will become an expert in all aspects of this technology.

    This project will allow us to both probe cell phenotype (even from complex organoid 3D culture) and to look for novel biological small molecules that we can repurpose as drugs.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Cell Sensing and Cell Testing and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Prof Thomas Franke

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Jens Plassmeier (BASF)

    Bioengineering a fully synthetic Matrigel-like stem cell culture system

    Developing in vitro bone marrow stem cell niches will help in the discovery of new drugs for aging conditions such as osteoporosis and malignancies such as leukaemia. The bone marrow is home to two stem cell populations, the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that make e.g. bone and cartilage and haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that make the blood. These two stem cells support each other in vivo, in the marrow, when conditions are right. This support allows the stem cells to self-renew and replenish stem cell stocks and respond to regenerative demand.
    However, in vitro, out of the niche, the stem cells rapidly differentiate and this makes study of natural self-renewal, support and disease processes tricky.
    In this new project, we will develop a synthetic hydrogel with industrial partner BiogelX that allows control of stem cell adhesion and growth factor presentation. This is similar to the hugely successful Matrigel, but will have controlled batch-to-batch reproducibility, will be non-animal derived and thus will be applicable to drug screening and regenerative medicine.
    The project is also aligned to the goals of our project partner Animal Free Research UK. The student will thus experience academic, industrial and charitable environments and work in an interdisciplinary group to crack a major research issue – bioengineering of in vitro stem cell niches. This research will help to drive change in treatments for major health issues. Further, the student will gain training in materials formulation and characterisation (AFM, rheology, SEM, TEM, ELISA) and biological characterisation (stem cell culture, flow cytometry, in cell western, immunofluorescence microscopy) etc.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Drug Discovery and Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Professor Matthew Dalby

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Laura Goldie, BiogelX

    Small Molecule Signaling in Stem Cell Differentiation

    Use of stem cells has the potential to transform regenerative medicine, if appropriate strategies can be identified for the controlled differentiation of these progenitors. One way to control stem cell differentiation in the lab is to use small signaling molecules like the synthetic steroid dexamethasone. This approach can’t generally be used in patients though, because the required drug concentrations are too high, and would lead to major side effects. We’re trying to overcome this limitation using several related methods, including developing more potent compounds, and exploring the possibility of delivering drugs directly at the site of action. We’ve got some preliminary results that look promising, and hope that you’ll join our team to help carry this work forward.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    David France

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Kate Cameron, Cytochroma

    Interrogating cancer cell dormancy for development of new therapies against metastasis

    Cancer metastasis or recurrence after therapy accounts for at least 90% of mortality from most cancer types and is an area of great unmet need for patients. Recent developments in our understanding have shifted the focus to cancer dormancy, a quiescent state whereby cancer cells can remain below the level of detection in the body and eventually reawaken. There are currently very few models for dormancy. Recent developments in biomaterials have provided tuneable and reproducible hydrogels to model the cancer microenvironment that we will exploit to develop models for drug screening and molecular interrogation. The successful student will develop in vitro 3D models to recapitulate cancer dormancy in cooperation between the Glasgow CRUK Beatson Institute and Centre for Cellular Microenvironment at the University of Glasgow and the company BiogelX. Lab skills include: hydrogel development, 3D printing, cancer spheroid growth and manipulation and advanced imaging methods She/he will undertake internship periods with BiogelX to develop a deep understanding of the translation of such assays from an academic lab to commercial products. This exciting multidisciplinary project will address a major unmet need in cancer recurrence and metastasis therapy.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Laura Machesky

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Laura Goldie, BiogelX

    Reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells to 3D model bone and cartilage formation

    Maintenace of bone and cartilage is essential for healthy ageing. These tissues can be pathologically perturbed in diseases such as osteoarthritis or compromised in accidental injury leading to non-union fractures. Therapeutic options in these settings are limited and it is therefore paramount that studies are undertaken to develop new therapeutic strategies. Recent technological advances in human stem biology, genetic editing and 3-dimensional cell culture, means that it possible to undertake studies with primary human cells that can reproduce in vivo and pathological settings. Prior work in our laboratory has identified pathways that play major roles in new bone formation and cartilage maintenance. This raises the possibility that modulation of these pathways can be used to treat pathological aspects of osteoarthritis and/or enhance fracture healing in cases of non-union fractures. In order to achieve this, several steps need to be undertaken. This studentship will focus on (a) using reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem cells to generate cells essential for bone and cartilage generation (e.g. osteoblasts and chondrocytes) (b) applying CRIPSr technology to genetically modify pathways so their therapeutic utility can be determined and (c) integrating controllable 3D gels to model tissue environments. Combined, these studies will provide unique insights into human bone biology and how cell-based therapeutics can be harnessed to treat/repair pathological and accidental damage.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Drug Discovery,Translation and Manufacturing

    Primary supervisor:

    Carl Goodyear

    Functional Gel Bandages for Cardiac Disease

    Coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature death, not only in the UK but in most of the developed world. As a consequence of reduced blood supply to the heart, the cardiac muscles die with time leaving a scarred tissue which cannot be repaired by the body. Our project aim is to develop novel materials which could be used to engineer functional cardiac “bandages” ex-vivo for subsequent implantation. This project aims to deliver new research for direct translation to cardiac problems with collaborations between School of Chemistry, School of Engineering and MVLS. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the project the project involves learning a range of techniques, from small molecule synthesis and characterization, to mechanical and electrical testing of new synthesized materials and the unique chance of a placement in an industrial setting.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering

    Primary supervisor:

    Emily Draper

    The Bee's Knees: Insect-Derived Biomaterials for 3D Tissue Culture

    Bone cancers are hard to study due to lack of appropriate 3D growth environments. There is thus unmet need for new smart materials in which to carry out the 3D cell culture experiments that will eventually result in breakthroughs such as development of drugs against bone cancers by providing more physiological cell growth medias. A number of biological materials have been explored to this end, but none are ideal. In particular, stability during long-duration experiments, and the ability to add specific signalling cues to control cell differentiation are still difficult to achieve. This project will investigate the use of resilin, a springy protein material found in insects as the basis of new media in which to grow cells. Resilin has remarkable properties (as an elastomer it is literally the bee’s knees), and simplified versions of the natural protein have been shown to be promising biocompatible materials. This project will take the simplification one step further and break the resilin sequence down to small peptide units that can be built back up again as a versatile and modular material. This will give rise to new robust ‘tuneable’ gels that will address many of the shortcomings of existing cell culture media.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Drew Thomson

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT)

    Using novel combination therapies to target acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

    Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the most common acute leukaemia in adults. Despite recent advances in therapy, around 50% of patients will relapse. Relapsed AML is a key area for further study as therapeutic options are limited and patient survival is very short. One major challenge in treating these patients is overcoming the protective environment provided by the bone marrow niche. The aim of this project is to explore the efficacy and selectivity of novel drug combinations with the CDK 2/9 inhibitor, CYC065 using humanized in vitro niche systems. Potential combinations with CYC065 which will be assessed include BRD3/4 inhibitors, proteasome inhibitors and FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

    The project will provide exposure to a broad array of cellular and molecular techniques including bioengineering and cutting edge single cell PCR, RNAseq and ChIP-seq technologies. These experiments will identify the most potent combination therapies for relapsed AML that can be taken forward to clinical trial. Key to this project, is understanding the role of the bone marrow niche in resistance to AML therapies, and in vitro co-culture models will provide important data to better understand this critical issue.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering, Cell Sensing and Cell Testing, Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Mhairi Copland

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Alpesh Patel, AFR-UK / Cyclacel

    Self-healing gels as a 3D, synthetic, humanized, wound healing model

    Wound healing is a process that often results in fibrosis and scar formation and is a growing problem due to increased survival or traumatic injury. Fibrosis can be debilitating and painful and is driven by differentiation of fibroblasts in the skin to myofibroblasts and increased contracture. In vitro models for fibrosis would be valuable in looking for therapies via e.g. small molecule discovery. Normally such models rely on matrices with poor batch to batch reproducibility derived from animal products such as collagen.
    In this project, we will design new in vitro models using peptide-based gels. The project will be highly multidisciplinary, and involve aspects of synthesis, gel formation and characterisation, as well as using the gels as cell scaffolds. Our ultimate aim is the development of self-healing gels that can comprise fibroblasts and keratinocytes to provide a 3D, synthetic, humanized, wound healing model.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering

    Primary supervisor:

    Dave Adams

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    Alpesh Patel, AFR-UK

    Microchip-based assays for the rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance

    This interdisciplinary project aims to work at the interface of electronic engineering and infection biology to develop new diagnostic apparatus to detect antibiotic resistant bacteria. The ultimate aim will be to provide a rapid, point of care device that can determine whether bacteria associated with an infection are resistant or sensitive to different antibiotics, thus enabling the correct choice of therapeutic intervention. The technology will exploit ion sensitive field effect transistors (ISFETs) on a silicon based integrated circuit. These sensors can detect the production of protons, associated with microbial viability with extreme sensitivity. By isolating bacteria from infections and applying to the microchip, they can be screened with a range of antibiotics. Those to which the bacteria are sensitive will prevent microbial growth (bacteriostatic antibiotics) or kill them (bacteriocidal antibiotics). This will results in a loss of proton production detected by the sensor system. Bacteria that are insensitive to drug will continue to metabolise and the protons produced in the system will be detected an therefore return a result of insensitivity. The device could allow routine testing of sensitivity of low numbers of bacteria isolated from an infection to a range of antibiotics, in a short time frame, enabling choice of the correct antibiotic for treatment at the point of care. The same technology can also be adapted to allow screening of very low concentrations of novel chemicals as potential antibiotics, given the ability to detect bacterial viability with low numbers and small volumes of bacterial culture. This will enable miniscule quantities of novel agents to be tested (which can be critical in novel chemical synthesis schemes where only very small quantities of a large number of compounds are produced).

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering and Drug Discovery

    Primary supervisor:

    Michael Barrett

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    TBC

    Microchip-based sensors to measure stem cell differentiation and growth

    We are carrying out research to apply state-of-art electronics and sensor technology to create a novel form of sensor platform for cell based measurement and assay. The project relies on complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits similar to those at the heart of commercial gene sequencing systems such as Ion Torrent. In this project we will focus on functionalising the sensors with stem cell tissues in order to create a system capable of both qualitative and quantitate measurement of changes in the local metabolome during cell differentiation and growth. By so doing we will develop a deeper understanding of how cells used in regenerative measurement perform, ultimately leading to better materials, culture and scaffold preparation and medical procedures and protocols.

    Theme:

    Cell and Tissue Engineering

    Primary supervisor:

    David Cumming

    Stakeholder supervisor:

    TBC