PhD Studentship: Dynamic Colon Model – an in vitro Approach to Drug Delivery and Treatment for the Large Intestine

University of Birmingham

Supervisors: Prof Mark Simmons (Chemical Engineering), Dr Hannah Batchelor (Pharmacy), University of Birmingham, Dr Kostas Stamatopoulos (Simcyp Ltd-Certara).

Industrial Partners: AstraZeneca, Pfizer

Funding: EPSRC stipend and H/EU fees paid plus industry contribution

There is a pressing need for physiologically relevant gastrointestinal models which can inform disease treatment and clinical practice in humans. This PhD project will explore the use of a recently developed in vitro model of the colon to obtain phenomenological understanding of drug delivery.  This work has generated both scientific and media interest, with invited talks at UKPharmSci in Hertfordshire (2014); Pharmaceutical World Meeting in Glasgow (2016) and an interview on the BBC Radio 4 “Inside Science” programme (  Reproduction of observed motility measurements in the human colon will increase our understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal tract; thus providing a foundation for the generation of innovative drug formulations that target and treat digestive diseases. 

The work will involve both fluid mechanical and concentration based measurements to understand the delivery of different dosage forms for a range of colon motility patterns.  The project is multidisciplinary with input from both Chemical Engineering (Simmons) and Pharmacy (Batchelor) as well as industry, with the ultimate aim of producing in vitro models which can aid the design of drug dosage forms and ultimately improve clinical practice and treatments. This model will act as a bridge to an in silico platform and Physiological Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models, enabling the testing and predicting of novel drug delivery systems for topical and systemic treatment, as well as having applications in research and teaching for physiologists, medical practitioners and pharmaceutical scientists. 

This project would be available to a UK/EU applicant with a degree in chemical engineering or pharmacy, or a related discipline (2(i) or above). Informal enquiries can be made to Professor Mark Simmons

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Midlands of England