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PhD Studentship - The Rational Design of Artificial Membrane Binding Proteins for Advanced Cell Therapies (Industry PhD Studentship with BCFN and CytoSeek)

University of Bristol

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Studentship covers fees, stipend and bench fee
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 14th May 2019
Closes: 13th August 2019

The project:

We are now accepting applications to an industry studentship with BCFN 4 year PhD Programme and CytoSeek to start in September 2019. This is a chance to be part of an innovative spin-out company at the sciences cutting edge.

We have recently developed a new class of biomolecular nanohybrid structures via the reengineering of protein surfaces with polymer surfactants1-5. Significantly, the process can be performed without compromising protein structure, dynamics and function, and under aqueous conditions, the hybrid nanoconjugates exhibit high cell membrane affinities. Moreover, through rational design of the polymer surfactant corona, the cell membrane affinity can be tuned to facilitate effective insertion of the nanoconjugates into cells membranes, while retaining the native function of the protein at the cell surface. The surface-modified cells retain their ability to proliferate, undergo multi-lineage differentiation, and our recent studies have shown that myoglobin nanoconjugates can used to provide a reservoir of oxygen capable of inhibiting necrosis at the centre of hyaline cartilage during engineered tissue growth3.

The new initiative described herein will utilise and develop this new technology through the construction of novel surface-modified therapeutic cells with tissue homing properties. The major advance will come from the integration of synthetic chimeric protein-polymer surfactant nanohybrids into the membranes of the cells. Specifically, a recombinant protein chimeria comprising a supercharged protein fused to a homing sequence will be modified to display a protein-polymer surfactant corona, which will facilitate spontaneous insertion of the hybrid construct into the cell membrane. During the project, the candidate will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of design and testing, including recombinant protein expression, nanohybrid construction, cell adhesion assays and tissue engineering.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Functional Nanomaterials PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements:  An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in physics, chemistry, materials science or a related subject (eg MSci, MPhys, MEng, MChem). Applicants with a upper second-class honours BSc degree may be considered if they can demonstrate very good potential for research.

Funding: Studentship covers a stipend at standard RCUK rates, home fees and a bench fee.

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