PhD Studentship: Establishing Process Control for Manufacturing Corneal Tissues for Clinical Applications

Loughborough University - Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering

Application details:

Reference number: WS07
Start date: 1st October 2018
Closing date: 9th March 2018


Primary supervisor: Dr Sammy Wilson
Secondary supervisor: Prof. John Tyrer

Intro (standard):

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

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Project Detail:

There are approximately 1.5 million cases of corneal blindness diagnosed annually and 10 million untreated patients worldwide. Presently, worldwide shortages of donated corneal tissues warrant the need for alternative engineered solutions. There is also an immediate demand to verify the condition of all donated tissues such that it can be deemed viable for transplantation.

Once the initial state has been determined, subsequent processes including transportation, storage, and preparations for use, can be examined to determine if at any stage damage is inflicted upon the tissue. We need to establish robust measures since current protocols lack manufacturing controls necessary to create a reproducible manufacturing process suitable for regular clinical application. This requires the development of novel quantitative characterisation tools to measure primarily the quality of input materials, with the ultimate aim to develop a capability to measure and quantify downstream processing techniques. This will allow for the determination of defined tissue specifications, and a system capable of auditing donor tissue to determine its suitability for transplantation.  In order to determine design specifications, an audit of healthy versus non-healthy corneal tissues will be performed in conjunction with Leicester Royal infirmary Hospital.

Such a capability enables tissue-engineering processes to be examined including decellurisation, which has the potential for recycling corneal tissues deemed unsuitable for transplantation as partial thickness grafts.

The use of laser speckle interferometric instruments has recently been shown to provide a near instantaneous means of mechanically measuring corneal properties and defining the suitability of corneal tissue. This project seeks to extend this work, establish process controls, and examine the potential for diagnosing early onset corneal issues such as keratoconus.

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Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in mechanical, manufacturing, or chemical engineering, or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: biomedical/biological engineering or metrology or instrumentation techniques.

Funding information:

Please note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to this project and/or the following 30 projects that have been prioritised for funding: advert ref: WS01 – WS30.

If awarded, each 3 year studentship will provide a tax-free stipend of £14,786 p.a (provisional), plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £4,262 p.a). While we welcome applications from non EU nationals, please be advised that due to funding restrictions it will only be possible to fund the tuition fees at the international rate and no stipend will be available. Successful candidates will be notified by 30th April 2018.

Contact details:

Name: Sammy Wilson
Email address:
Telephone number: 44 (0) 1509 564866

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering.

Please quote reference number: WS07

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Midlands of England