PhD Studentship: Development of 3D Cell Cultures for Synthetic Bone Models

University of Birmingham

Project description:

Tissue engineering is a rapidly growing field that seeks to use combinations of implanted cells, biomaterials, and biologically active molecules to repair or regenerate injured or diseased tissues.  Biomaterials are now designed with the premise that they must stimulate natural tissue healing processes upon implantation and then degrade over a clinically relevant time scale, rather than to remain and replace the function of the natural tissue altogether. 

Many current approaches focus on a limited length scale determined by intrinsic material or processing constraints, which inherently limits functionality.  Furthermore the transition from conventional 2D cell culture to biomimetic and biologically relevant 3D cell niche environments is a huge challenge. The group’s interest is to apply new studies on the bioinspired formation of inorganic nanoparticles, hydrogel cell encapsulation and 3D printing to create synthetic, hierarchically structured scaffolds over multiple length scales (nm to cm).  Overall the aim is to provide a 3D environment with biotailorable properties to tackle the limiting problems of current synthetic tissue engineering materials.  This PhD project will focus on patterning and structuring of cells resident to bone in 3D and determining the effects of the mechanical, structural and chemical properties of the scaffolds on in vitro cellular differentiation and function. 

The successful candidate will form part of a multidisciplinary team and will be supervised by Dr Bassett based in the Institute of Translational Medicine ( and the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. In addition, they will work closely with collaborators at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Trondheim and the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Applicant profile

The ideal candidate will have a strong background and interest in human cell biology with practical experience in the sterile culture of mammalian cells. They will hold a first class or upper second class (or non-UK equivalent) Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject such as cell biology, molecular biology, biomaterials science or bioengineering and be able to provide a documented background in experimental work relevant to the project themes. Degrees in other scientific or engineering disciplines will be considered if extensive experimental experience in cell biology and other topics relevant to the project themes can be proven. The candidate must have a keen interest in biomaterials and regenerative medicine and have or be willing to develop knowledge and expertise in materials processing and characterisation, particularly for soft materials i.e. hydrogels. We seek a highly self-motivated, keen and well-disciplined candidate to tackle the significant challenges of this project who is also able to communicate their results and ideas effectively.


Applicants should contact Dr. D Bassett ( by email in the first instance and include a Cover letter, CV, and contact details of two references. Informal enquiries are also welcome. Applications will be evaluated on an on-going basis until the position is filled.

Funding notes

The studentship is funded for a period of three years, covering maintenance and University fees (UK and EU/EEA only) and continuation of funding is subject to annual performance review.  Self-funded UK/EU or international students are also welcome to apply for this post.

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Midlands of England