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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Biophysics of Self-Assembled Protein Nanosheets for Stem Cell-Based Biotechnologies

Supervisors: Julien GAUTROT

Application Deadline: 31-01-2019

A PhD studentship in the design of novel self-assembled protein nanosheets and their application in stem cell-based biotechnologies is available in the group of Dr J. Gautrot. The project will focus on the bottom up design of protein nanosheets through the self-assembly of proteins and polymers, displaying controlled chemistry, morphology and mechanical properties. These nanoscale assemblies will allow the regulation of stem cell adhesion and phenotype.

Biomaterials design plays an essential role in the development of novel platforms and strategies supporting regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Importantly, stem cells used in such technologies not only respond to the biochemical properties of biomaterials but also their physical properties (e.g. mechanics, topography, geometry). We recently reported that the nanoscale physical properties of biomaterials and the extra-cellular environment may dominate over bulk properties. The proposed project will further establish the methodology to design nanoscale biomaterials for the control of stem cell adhesion. In particular, this project will develop and characterise self-assembly processes enabling the control of nanoscale mechanical properties of biomaterials (protein nanosheets), in addition to their biochemistry.

The successful candidates will develop multidisciplinary skills in protein and polymer chemistry, self-assembly, structural characterisation (FTIR, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy), biophysics (nano-indentation, micro-rheology, SPR) and will be trained in the fundamentals of stem cell biology and associated characterisation techniques (confocal microscopy, FRAP, live imaging). This project will be integrated with other projects in our group focusing on the development of novel smart biomaterials and biointerfaces (, fields in which our research group has a strong track-record (see Nano Lett 2018 and 2014, ACS Nano 2018, Nature Materials 2012, Nature Cell Biology 2010, Chem. Rev. 2014).

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU & International Applicants.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in September/October 2019
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to four years (Currently set as £16,777 in 2018/19).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in Chemistry, Bioengineering, Biophysics or a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6 in Writing 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • International applicants should refer to the following website at

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Julien Gautrot, E-mail:

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Medical Engineering programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2019 QM RSF ERC JEG’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.

Deadline for applications: 31st January 2019