Modelling Network Formation in Thiol-Ene Polymers Used as Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

University of Warwick - School of Engineering

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

Start date: 03/10/2017 or as soon as possible.

Duration: 4 years

The project:
Tissue engineering aims to develop biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function or that of a whole organ. This requires a scaffold – a three dimensional porous polymer structure that mimics the extracellular matrix found in vivo. An ideal scaffold should have: (i) an interconnected network of pores of a diameter that permits cell migration; (ii) surface chemistry that encourages cell attachment and permits the immobilisation of biomolecules such as growth factors; (iii) biodegradability into non-toxic components that are easily excreted by the host.  Scaffolds for tissue engineering are made in Prof Cameron’s group by thiol-ene UV-initiated click-polymerisation using emulsions as templates. The polymerisation actually involves two reactions: the thiol-ene reaction and a competing ene-ene reaction. The result of this is that the properties of the scaffold, including surface chemistry, thermal and mechanical behaviour, are strongly influenced by the ratio of the thiol-ene components.

This project will use in silico modelling to understand how the relative rates of the two competing reactions determine the final properties of the materials. This will entail the development of mathematical models to characterise the respective chemical reaction networks. Unknown model parameters will be estimated using data collected from relevant experiments. Once accurately parameterised and validated, sensitivity analysis of the models’ responses to perturbations in the parameters and inputs will also be performed. The models will then be used in a predictive capacity to test the effects of the relative rates of the competing reactions and to establish optimal system responses. The outcome will be a set of design rules that can be used to ‘dial-in’ desired physical, chemical and mechanical properties in the resulting scaffold materials.

Eligibility: UK or EU candidates with a 1st or 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent)

Funding: The annual stipend will be £14,553 (tax free), for 4 years, with all university fees paid. 

How to Apply: To apply for this post you must complete the online application form and quote scholarship reference MJC

As soon as you have a University ID number you will be invited to upload your degree certificate, transcripts, CV and a personal statement that explains your specific research interests and why you should be considered for this award.

Application Form Course Details:
Department: School of Engineering

Course Type: Research

Course: Engineering (PhD)

Application form: http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/pgapply.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England