DTP (Doctoral Training Partnership) PhD Studentship

Imperial College London - Department of Chemical Engineering

Engineered Nanomedicine for Targeted Drug Delivery

Duration: 42 months, starting 1st October 2017 (negotiable if you want to start earlier or soon after)

Supervisor: Dr Rongjun Chen

Despite continuous advancements in delivery systems, the development of methods for efficient delivery of therapeutic agents, in particular bioactive macromolecules, to the intracellular site of action (e.g. the cytoplasm or the nucleus) still remains a major issue. Although viral vectors are efficient in gene transfection, enthusiasm for their clinical use is dampened by concerns of serious safety issues and difficulties in large-scale production. Increasing interest is focused on rational design of non-viral vectors that can mimic the activity of viruses whilst provide improved safety, greater versatility and easy synthesis. We have recently developed novel pH-responsive polymers that mimic the activity of viral fusogenic peptides. Our preliminary in-vitro and in-vivo work has shown that the polymers can deliver small molecules and macromolecular drugs (including proteins and nucleic acids) into the cell interior for effective treatment of diseases including cancer.

The aim of this PhD project is to prepare and characterise a novel, virus-mimicking, biocompatible nanoscale delivery system involving the bio-inspired polymers. The nanocarrier will be optimised for targeted, efficient and controllable delivery of therapeutic agents into the cell cytoplasm and/or the nucleus. Using cancer cell lines as a model cellular system, the virus-mimicking nanomedicine will be evaluated for their ability to traverse across cellular membranes, release drug payloads against intracellular targets, and trigger apoptosis and cell death.

It will be of interest to students who wish to work on a project combining drug delivery, chemistry, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

You will be expected to enrol for and complete a PhD degree in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London.

Due to funding restrictions only candidates who are UK Nationals, or European Citizens who have spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK, are eligible. You should have a First Class or high 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Biological Engineering, Polymer Materials, Chemistry or a related discipline. You should have a background in the following areas, or have backgrounds indicating that you can acquire skills in these areas: 

  • Experience in conducting laboratory experiments for organic synthesis and/or polymer synthesis.
  • Experience in using analytical techniques for material characterisation.
  • Experience in mammalian cell tissue culture.
  • Working with and troubleshooting mammalian cell-based functional assays.

Funding information 
The PhD Studentship covers both tuition fees and an annual tax-free contribution to maintenance costs of £16,296.

How to apply
The on-line application form for applying for PhD study can be found from the webpage (http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/apply). In the application form please write “Dr Rongjun Chen” under the proposed Research Supervisor name and clearly state that you are applying for this DTP PhD project. Please make sure that you upload the other required documents.

Interested applicants can contact Dr Rongjun Chen (rongjun.chen@imperial.ac.uk) for more details of the project.

For general PhD information, please email chemeng-phd-admissions@imperial.ac.uk.

Closing Date: 10/2/2017 (Midnight GMT)

Committed to equality and valuing diversity. We are also an Athena SWAN Silver Award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion and a Two Ticks Employer.

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