Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

October 2020

Closing date

23 February 2020

Applications are invited for a fully funded 3-year PhD to commence in October 2020. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science and Health, and will be supervised by Professor Gordon Blunn, Dr Marta Roldo and Dr Gianluca Tozzi

This PhD studentship is one of six PhD studentships funded by the University of Portsmouth in the area of biomaterials and bioengineering.  These studentships  will support the University’s strategic plan engaging with clinicians working in Portsmouth Hospital Trust to solve real-life medical problems.   

The successful applicants would be part of a cross-faculty research cluster in medical technologies. This programme of research involves several Schools based in the Faculty of Science and Health and the Faculty of Technology. 

The vision of the cluster is to train a cohort of PhD students who contribute to the academic environment, some of whom would be expected to develop academic careers in this expanding area whilst others would be employed in the growing international medical technologies industry. 

Training would be enhanced by extended visits to other institutions involved in similar research and by visits to hospitals to meet with clinicians involved in the research project.

The scholarship covers tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £15,009 (UKRI 2019/20 rate) for three years.  Scholarship recipients will also receive up to £3,000 for research project cost/consumables during the duration of the programme.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Investigating the way that cells differentiate, attach and proliferate on different material surfaces that have been engineered to promote soft tissue attachment
  • Determining the way that muscles and tendons are able to attach implants surfaces and to bone using ex vivo models
  • Measuring the way patients with implants that promote soft tissue attachment, move compared to patients with implants that do not encourage soft tissue attachment

Massive implants used to treat bone cancers in children and for revision implants, after failed total hip replacement do not allow the attachment of the muscles to the implant surface. Therefore if the proximal part of the femur has been replaced (the part where all the muscle attach to the bone) then there is a significant effect on the way the patient walks.

Implants have recently been developed using materials that promote muscle attachment in theory, enabling the patient to work more normally. This PhD will investigate the way that soft tissue attached to different implant surfaces. 

Tissue culture techniques would investigate the effect of different surfaces on cell attachment; tissue attachment would then be investigated using surfaces selected from tissue culture studies.

The way the patient walks with the new implant versus the way patients walk with older designs will be studied using gait analysis and the student would be expected to spend some time at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital based in (North London) using their gait lab gait analysis.

Entry requirements

You will 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.

You should be qualified to degree level in biological, bioengineering or biomaterial related area. Experience in tissue culture is desirable but not necessary but you should be keen to learn new techniques and analytical methods.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Prof Gordon Blunn ( 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 PHBM4831020 when applying.