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PhD Studentship: Hybrid Foldamer-Polymer Scaffolds as Novel Biomaterials for Wound Healing Applications

University of Birmingham - School of Chemistry

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The 2022/23 Stipend is £15,609* p.a (to rise in line with UKRI recommendation) (plus travel allowance in year 1, a travel/conference budget and a laptop)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th November 2021
Closes: 9th January 2022

A fully funded PhD studentship is available in the groups of Dr. Pike and Dr. Arno (https://arnolab.com) at the University of Birmingham in areas of synthetic organic chemistry, chemical biology and materials chemistry focused on the development of a new range of hybrid foldamer-polymer scaffolds for wound healing applications.

Foldamers are synthetic helical oligomers that adopt stable secondary structures1 and some classes of foldamers are known to possess potent antimicrobial properties. However, the potential application of foldamers as wound healing biomaterials is yet to be explored. Polymers have recently emerged as a promising class of materials for biomedical applications, due to their ease of synthesis and tuneable mechanical properties.2 However, the effective use of polymeric materials for wound healing applications is limited by their inefficacy to induce a biological response, which in turn leads to a failure in promoting in situ tissue healing and growth.

In this project, we will address the current limitations associated with the use of individual foldamers and polymer scaffolds as topical wound healing treatments by creating a new class of biomimetic hybrid foldamer-polymer materials which combine and optimize the desirable features of both individual scaffolds. These novel hybrid foldamer-polymer scaffolds will have tuneable mechanical and biocompatibility properties for improved performance as wound healing agents and possess long-term implications for increased patient recovery.

The PhD student will work in the vibrant and welcoming groups of Dr Pike and Dr Arno. This interdisciplinary project offers the opportunity to receive training in a variety of techniques, spanning the fields of organic chemistry, polymer synthesis, and biology. The student will receive in-depth training in a wide range of standard and advanced synthetic organic chemistry techniques and polymerisation techniques. The student will also receive training in a diverse array of analytical techniques including NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, IR spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, UV/Vis spectroscopy, and single crystal X-ray diffraction.

The student will also be trained in a wide range of material characterisation techniques in order to determine the mechanical properties of the new hybrid scaffolds including rheology, mechanical analysis (e.g. compression tests), and adhesive property assays.  Finally, in order to determine the wound healing properties of the new scaffolds, the student will gain training in range of biological techniques including executing 2D and 3D cell cultures, live/dead assays to determine cytocompatibility, and cell proliferation assays.

Candidate Selection Process:

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Sarah Pike ( s.j.pike@bham.ac.uk) or Dr. Maria Chiara Arno (m.c.arno@bham.ac.uk) in the first instance by email, attaching an up-to-date CV.

The PhD studentship is competitively funded by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) for further details please see: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/mibtp/about_mibtp 

The 2022/23 Stipend is £15,609* p.a (to rise in line with UKRI recommendation) (plus travel allowance in year 1, a travel/conference budget and a laptop)

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