PhD Studentship: Development of Smart Materials for Neural Tissue Engineering and Clinical Application

Loughborough University

Application details:
Reference number: CM-CDT5/PR2/2017
Start date: 1st October 2017

Primary supervisor: Helen Willcock
Secondary supervisor: Stephen Butler and Paul Roach

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

Project Detail:
This project is part of an ambitious 5-student centre for doctoral training at Loughborough University within the area of brain-on-a-chip technologies.

There is an urgent need for research into neurodegenerative diseases, however our lack of understanding of complex brain circuitry restricts modelling and evaluation for future healthcare strategies. The cellular architecture of neural tissue is of key importance for its function. Any future surgical intervention to deliver tissue engineered neural tissue will need to ensure manipulation of this delicate tissue without compromising cell viability or connectivity. Compromise of either cellular viability or tissue architecture will affect performance of any such regenerative medicine approach. This project focusses on the development of novel smart materials which will ensure support and easy handling for highly organised neuronal circuit 3D constructs neuronal culture in 3D. Approaches will also investigate the potential of these materials for delivery of this tissue (e.g. to a transplant site) with attention on whole tissue function rather than only at the single cell level.

This is a highly interdisciplinary opportunity for researchers interested in developing skills within a specified discipline whilst working and contributing across a discipline boundary. This PhD team will bring together researchers from different disciplines: biologists, chemists, mathematicians, and material engineers.

Entry requirements:
Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a related subject.  This is a highly multidisciplinary programme and applications are welcomed from students having strong background in their specialty who are interested in working in an exciting and rapidly developing field.

Funding information:
Studentships will be funded through an EPSRC DTP. This 42 month project will be part of a 5-student cohort, working collaboratively to deliver specific goals. Each studentship will be further enhanced by a DTP-specific induction and additional training around impact.  The studentship consists of a tax-free stipend of £14,553 per annum, plus UK/EU tuition fees. Additional funds via a Research Training Support Grant will support, e.g. conference attendance. Due to funding restrictions, this is only available to those who are eligible to pay UK/EU fees. In order to qualify for a full award, all applicants must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria including the minimum UK residency requirement

Contact details:
Name: Dr Paul Roach
Email address:

How to apply:
All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select ‘Materials’  

Please quote reference number: CM-CDT5/PR2/2017

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Midlands of England