PhD: Development of E-Sense: a Flexible in Vitro Platform to Determine Cardiovascular Risk

Manchester Metropolitan University - Science and Engineering, School of Healthcare Science

Informal academic queries to:

Dr Stephen White( and Prof Tristan McKay (

Interview dates/ periods (if known): around 15th Jan 2018

Start date: 1st April  2018

The project summary

The E-Sense system represents an exciting development of technology that will enable quantifiable responses of test compounds, to assess their potential for vascular harm and promotion of coronary heart disease. This project will deliver a validated prototype system, ready for development into a fully commercialised product with industrial support.

Candidates should have:

First or upper second class honors degree in a relevant subject

Preferably also have research project experience in molecular biology, gene transfer and tissue culture

Atherosclerosis, the underlying mechanism potentiating Coronary Heart Disease, develops focally at regions of disturbed (athero-prone) flow within coronary arteries and not within regions that experience laminar (athero-resistant) flow, clearly implicating the endothelium in the initiation of disease. Additionally, 30% of heart attacks are caused by endothelial erosion of plaques, where the endothelium detaches, precipitating thrombus formation and arterial occlusion. Therefore, the endothelium and its response to flow and cardiovascular risk factors, can play a significant contribution to initiation and clinical presentation of coronary heart disease. This suggests that creation of an endothelial-based in vitro detection system (E-Sense) will provide an ideal platform for detecting agents that cause vascular harm and promote atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

This NC3R-funded project will produce a system to replace the use of animal models for screening compounds that might contribute to coronary heart disease. We will develop a scalable modular endothelial-based system to monitor key aspects of cell function, known to be involved in atherosclerosis. These include inflammation, cellular stress and downregulation of protective pathways. This will be performed in immortalised human coronary artery endothelial cells, using our existing Transcription Factor Activated Reporter (TFAR) gene cassettes. The E-sense system makes use of key transcription factors that assimilate multiple cellular signals. This will be especially useful for rapid screening of novel agents, including potential new risk factors (e.g. components of energy drinks, dietary supplements, electronic cigarette additives, ‘legal highs’ etc.) to screen for indications of vascular damage and alert health authorities to potential risk.

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Northern England