Funding

Funded PhD Project (International students only) 

Project code

PHBM6181021

Department

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start date

October 2021

Closing date

4 May 21 

(12pm GMT)

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2021.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Aikaterini Lalatsa in collaboration with Dr Andrea Bucchi (School of Mechanical and Design Engineering). 

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for a Portsmouth Global PhD scholarship. Successful candidates will receive a scholarship to cover tuition fees at an international rate for three years, a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,609 for 2021/22), and one return flight to London during the duration of the course. Bursary recipients will also receive  £1,500 for project costs/consumables for the duration of the programme.

The work on this project could involve

  • Microfluidic manufacture of peptide nanomedicines for brain diseases and tumours.
  • Continuous microfluidic fabrication of nano-in-micro loaded formulations optimised for targeted nose-to-brain delivery.
  • Design and manufacture organs-on-chips models for the nasal epithelial cells and 3D blood-brain barrier validating the permeability of known transport markers and assessing the permeability of brain therapeutics and nanomedicines
The nanomedicines and peptide therapeutic market is growing and the increasing global incidence of cancer and brain diseases are key factors influencing growth. However, immature bottom-up manufacture remains a translational and legislative hurdle due to sub-optimal control of quality attributes of nanomedicines. Microfluidic methods tightly control the local particle-formation environment in a continuous flow pattern. The proposal aims to develop and optimise microfluidic manufacture of nanomedicines with existing continuous equipment towards innovative particle formation techniques which are industrially scalable. Combining nose to brain delivery and nanomedicines strategies for effective non-invasive delivery of therapies for brain diseases and cancers benefits from the non-invasive high payload delivery of the nose-to-brain route while exploiting the targeting and specificity of nanomedicines. Here we will pioneer novel strategies for the microfluidic preparation of patented peptide nanofibers with shown ability to be loaded with clinical amounts of anticancer drugs, bind specifically tumour cells overexpressing G-protein coupled receptors and elicit a strong anticancer effect that is synergistic to that of the loaded anticancer drug that possess excellent stability and cross the blood-brain barrier while enable the permeation of non-permeable drugs. Quality by Design (QbD) studies will be undertaken to optimise microfluidic particles with similar properties to that of batch processes. Peptide nanofibers will be converted into nano-in-microparticles (NIM) for non-invasive nose-to-brain delivery which can revolutionise treatment of brain tumours which relies on invasive therapies. NIM will be prepared by joining microfluidic chips to atomisation industrially amenable equipment (e.g. spray-dryer) towards a continuous manufacturing process without the need for solvent purification by dialysis or tangential flow fractionation. Microfluidically prepared peptide nanofibers and NIM will be characterized for morphology, loading, release, and stability. Permeability of peptide nanofibers and NIM will be assessed utilising an in house under development microfluidic human cell-based assay by combining in series organ-on-chip models for the nasal epithelium and blood-brain barrier. Work on this model can elicit an in vitro model for animal-free testing of formulations for nose-to-brain delivery that is currently lacking. 

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

The successful applicant will be a talented researcher with an enthusiasm for nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, biomaterials, materials science, pharmacy/drug delivery.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Katerina Lalatsa (katerina.lalatsa@port.ac.uk) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code PHBM6181021 when applying.

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