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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London

School of Engineering and Materials Science

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Division of Bioengineering

Current research funding in the Division of Bioengineering totals £6,229,811

Research Funding

The following are current externally funded research projects taking place within the Division of Bioengineering at Queen Mary University of London:

Cells growing at the surface of oil dropletsEngineered Protein Nanosheets at Liquid-Liquid Interfaces for Stem Cell Expansion, Sorting and Tissue Engineering
Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: EU Commission - Horizon 2020

ProLiCell will design the biochemical and mechanical properties of extracellular matrix (ECM) protein nanosheets that can sustain the formation of adhesion protein complexes and support cell proliferation and culture on materials with very weak bulk mechanical properties (liquids).

PhD stipend and consumables for Mr S Feng
Principal Investigator: Wen WANG
Funding source: Zhoukou Tianjiukang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd

Modulating tendon micromechanics for injury prevention or management
Principal Investigator: Hazel SCREEN
Funding source: EPSRC & TRB Chemedica

We are working with TRB Chemedica to understand how bio-lubricants may modulate local tendon mechanics and help manage or prevent tendon injury

PhD Scholarship: Miss Xinqing Pang
Principal Investigator: Wen WANG
Funding source: Shijiazhuang Huiruan Software Technology Co Ltd

Multiscale nuclear mechanobiology within the skin: from biophysical cues to epigenetic effects
Principal Investigator: Núria GAVARA
Funding source: BBSRC

The overall objective of the proposed project is to understand how forces are transmitted from the external environment to the nucleus and to determine the subsequent effects on nuclear structure, gene expression, and cell function within the epidermis of the skin. We will use advanced biophysical and imaging techniques to apply forces to single cells, and systems biology methodologies to analyse the changes in DNA structure and gene expression. In addition, we will test the role of internal cellular structures, such as the cytoskeleton, to gain mechanistic insight into these processes. Finally, we will investigate the influence of nuclear mechano-sensing in more complex 3D models of human skin.

Investigating the cardiomyocyte rigidity sensing mechanism with micro patterned surfaces and nanopil
Principal Investigator: Thomas ISKRATSCH
Funding source: BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies
Principal Investigator: Hazel SCREEN
Funding source: MRC Medical Research Council

Identifying the causes of age-related tendon injury
Principal Investigator: Hazel SCREEN
Funding source: DMT Dunhill Medical Trust, The

Cells proliferating on nanosheets self-assembled at liquid-liquid interfaces2D composites with controlled nano-mechanisms
Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: Leverhulme Trust

A long standing dogma in cell-based technologies is that bulk mechanical properties of solid substrates are essential to enable cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. However, the use of solid materials for cell culture constitutes an important hurdle for the scale up and automation of processes. We recently discovered that protein assembly at liquid-liquid interfaces results in mechanically strong protein layers sustaining cell spreading and directing fate decision. For long term culture, such interfaces lacked toughness and ruptured. This project will develop tough 2D nanocomposites assembled at oil-water interfaces and sustaining long term stem cell culture for applications in regenerative medicine.

Micropatterned siliconesNovel Cross-linking Strategy
Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: FormFormForm Ltd

This project focuses on the design of novel crosslinking strategies for silicone materials. These will enable the design of a new generation of silicone based composites with controlle mechanical properties and displaying conductive behaviour. The project will explore the use of these materials for 3D printing.

Fibrillar level mechanisms underlying transient change in pre-strain in cartilage: Under loading, loss of water molecules and structural collapse in the proteoglycan network lead a transient reduction of pre-strain (reduction in D-period) in the collagenThe mechanics of the collagen fibrillar network in ageing cartilage
Principal Investigator: Himadri GUPTA
Co-investigator(s): Martin KNIGHT
Funding source: B.B.S.R.C.

We seek to understand how age-related changes in articular cartilage link to alterations in its nanoscale mechanics – and eventually to joint breakdown. We use high-brilliance synchrotron X-ray scattering to track fibrillar deformation dynamics in the matrix (hydrated proteoglycans restrained by collagen fibrils), combined with proteomics to assess compositional changes.

PhD Scholarship: Mr Yuezhou Zhang
Principal Investigator: Wen WANG
Funding source: Wuxi Second Hospital

PhD Studentship
Principal Investigator: Wen WANG
Funding source: Taiyuan Tongcheng Delivery Limited

Hole found in the fetal membranes ten weeks after fetoscopic intervention. The surgeon created a hole through the fetal membranes to fix the problem with the baby's placenta. However, the hole never healed leading to premature rupture of the fetal membranHealing the fetal membranes after iatrogenic PPROM
Principal Investigator: Tina CHOWDHURY
Co-investigator(s): Anna David, Alvaro MATA, Dan BADER, David Becker and Jan Deprest
Funding source: Great Ormond Street Hospital Childrens Charity

The integrity of the fetal membranes that surrounds the baby in the womb during pregnancy are vital for normal development. Once the fetal membranes have ruptured or are damaged, they fail to heal leaving a defect until the end of pregnancy. Bacteria may subsequently ascend from the vagina into the womb, causing infection both to the fetus and mother. This condition is called pre-term premature rupture of the foetal membrane (PPROM), and is a common cause of preterm birth. PPROM also complicates 30% of fetal surgeries that are increasingly being used to treat abnormalities in the unborn baby such as spine, diaphragmatic and placental defects. However, PPROM and subsequent preterm birth compromises the outcome of treated babies, reducing the clinical effectiveness of foetal surgery. There are no clinical solutions to improve healing of the foetal membrane after it ruptures.

Biomechanical determinants of advanced coronary atherosclerotic plaque formation in transgenic hyperlipidaemic minipigs
Principal Investigator: Rob KRAMS
Funding source: BHF British Heart Foundation

Sensory and Supporting Cells in the Organ of Corti
Principal Investigator: Nuria GAVARA
Funding source: M.R.C.

The aim of this project is to study force transmisison within the cochlea as it is mechanically stimulated by sound. This programme grant is lead by Brighton U. and features a combination of experimental approaches and novel modelling analysis. Our lab uses AFM to mechanically characterize speciallized cells in the cochlea, so that mechanical parameters can be fed into new models.

3D Printed Osteogenic & Hierarchal Bio Mineralizing Scaffold
Principal Investigator: Alvaro MATA
Funding source: AO Foundation

EPSRC CASE Studentship with NPL
Principal Investigator: Tina CHOWDHURY
Co-investigator(s): Robert Donnan and Richard Dudley
Funding source: NPL Management Ltd

HydraSense is a SMART device to monitor hydration real-time and non-invasively.

META-DORM
Principal Investigator: Martin KNIGHT
Co-investigator(s): Stefaan VERBRUGGEN
Funding source: Commission of the European Community

This study seeks to explore the interactions between bone cells, cancer cells and their physical environment and the role of primary cilia, aiming to expand our knowledge of how cancer spreads to bone from other organs.

Mechano-regulation of myofibril formation and cardiac remodelling
Principal Investigator: Thomas ISKRATSCH
Funding source: British Heart Foundation

While chemical cues have well-established roles in guiding cell differentiation, there is growing evidence of a role for mechanical stimuli, such as matrix rigidity during heart development and disease. However, the mechanisms that underlie this mechanical signalling remain elusive. Here we will study this by combining cell biology, biophysics and nanotechnology in a three-tiered approach in which we examine the cardiomyocyte response to A) passive resistance and varying rigidity; B) active force; C) no force. Detailed understanding will lead to novel and valuable insights into mechanisms of cardiac mechanosensing and could result in novel or improved therapeutic strategies for cardiac diseases.

Osteoarthritis may be treated as an environmental ciliopathy
Principal Investigator: Martin KNIGHT
Co-investigator(s): Paul Chapple, Phil Beales, Hannah Mitchinson and
Funding source: MRC

This study tests the hypothesis that pathological alterations in the cartilage microenvironment regulate chondrocyte primary cilia structure leading to changes in cilia signalling which drive cartilage degradation.    Increasing evidence suggests that primary cilia and the associated signalling pathways are critical for the health of articular cartilage ...

Impact of Physiogel on tribological properties and structural integrity of the skin
Principal Investigator: Julien GAUTROT
Funding source: GSK GlaxoSmithKline UK Ltd

Determining the role of exosomes in cellular senescence and ageing
Principal Investigator: Ana O'Loghlen
Co-investigator(s): Martin KNIGHT
Funding source: BBSRC

Biomineralizing coatings for maxillofacial implants
Principal Investigator: Alvaro MATA
Funding source: EU Commission - Horizon 2020

THaCH - The effects of hypercholesterolemia on tendon health
Principal Investigator: Hazel SCREEN
Co-investigator(s): Charlotte Waugh and Alex Scott
Funding source: Commission of the European Community / Commission of the European Community

Musculoskeletal diseases cause pain and suffering to millions of people worldwide. This proposal aims to significantly enhance our understanding of hypercholesterolemia on aspects of tendon health, a highly under-researched area and one of significant clinical importance. The findings from the proposed research are likely to have major implications for orthopedic sciences and preventative medicine as well as rehabilitation services, strategies and technology. Such knowledge has the potential to improve quality of life and reduce socio-economic costs associated with the disability resulting from orthopedic and musculoskeletal diseases.

Mechno-regulation of genome function to direct stem cell rate
Principal Investigator: David LEE
Co-investigator(s): Nuria GAVARA
Funding source: B.B.S.R.C.

Mechno-regulation of genome function to direct stem cell rate

Biomimetic mineralization for enamel regeneration - ENAMULATE
Principal Investigator: Alvaro MATA
Funding source: Commission of the European Community

Fabrication of aligned nanofibrous gels through a vitrification process
Principal Investigator: Helena AZEVEDO
Co-investigator(s): Himadri GUPTA
Funding source: Royal Society

This project will apply simple methods, self-assembly and vitrification, to fabricate nanofibrous hydrogels with controlled nanofibre alignment able to recreate the corneal stroma nano/microarchitectural organization.

Aliah Mohammed Ahmad Abuammah - Studenthsip
Principal Investigator: Rob KRAMS
Funding source: UKSACB Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau in London