Research Associate in NanoSafety

Heriot-Watt University - School of Engineering and Physical Sciences

The successful candidate will be taking a leading role in the newly funded European Project PATROLS. PATROLS is a 7 Million Euro project with 27 partners. The goal of PATROLS is to develop advanced models, as alternatives to animal testing, that are suitable for the toxicity testing of nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials (NMs) (materials with at least one dimension between 1 and 100nm) often exhibit novel properties compared to larger forms of the same material. Such properties have led to increased use of NMs into a diverse array of products (e.g. pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, textiles, food, electronics). In fact, NMs are available in a wide variety of physico-chemical properties such as size (and surface area), morphology, charge, and surface coating, all of which can influence their properties, but also their toxicity. Due to the extensive use of NMs, much work has been invested in understanding which characteristics might infer such toxicity. The large number of NMs makes traditional regulatory toxicity testing, via animals, too expensive and ethically inappropriate. For this reason, advanced alternative cell based models are required that can accurately reflect the responses of tissues to NM exposure. PATROLS will establish and standardise a battery of innovative, next generation physiologically anchored, hazard assessment tools that accurately predict adverse effects caused by long-term (chronic), low dose NM exposure in human and environmental systems to support regulatory risk decision making. PATROLS will advance the current state-of-the-art by aiming to deliver: 1) more realistic and predictive, in vitro three dimensional (3D) lung, gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and liver models for mechanism-based hazard assessment; 2) cross-species models linking human and environmental systems; 3) innovative methods for sub-lethal hazard endpoints in ecologically relevant test systems and organisms, selected according to their position in the food chain; 4) robust in silico methods for exposure and dosimetry modelling, as well as hazard prediction.

The PDRA will focus on development and use of the 3D in vitro cellular models of the GIT and liver and will: systematically enhance 3D models of the GIT from 2 lineage (cell type), to 3 lineage models (epithelium + mucin secreting cell + macrophage); culture existing commercially available 3D primary liver cell spheroids; assess new protocols (developed by others) for the generation of 3D liver cell line spheroids and assess the ability of the 3D GIT and liver models to survive for one month (or more if possible) in culture, and to introduce protocol modifications to promote such survival.

You will have a BSc (at least 2:1) and PhD degrees in a relevant subject area (e.g. toxicology, pharmacology, cell biology, biomedical sciences, biochemistry), together with experience of designing experiments, problem solving, performing data analysis and interpretation, and conducting appropriate statistical analyses.

The post is available for 42 months.

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Vicki Stone (

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and ethnic minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts at Heriot-Watt.

For application details and further information please go to:

Ref: IRC11150

Closing Date: 8 September 2017

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