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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Bioengineering and Biotechnologies: Microdroplet-based microfluidics for direct reprogramming of human pluripotent stem cells

Supervisors: Julien GAUTROT

Application Deadline: 14-02-2021

Project Details: Institute of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL)

A studentship in the design of microdroplet microfluidic systems for the development of on chip stem cell manufacturing platforms is available in the laboratory of Prof Julien Gautrot. The aim of the project is to develop a microfluidic microdroplet based platform for the direct reprogramming of human pluripotent stem cells at high throughput, for the automated manufacturing of stem cells and their monitoring.

The field of stem cell technologies, applied to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, has grown particularly fast in the last two decades, requiring the design of new cell manufacturing pipelines. The rapid progress in the ability to produce, differentiate and characterise stem cells is associated with an explosion in the throughput and the standardisation required for the manufacturing of human cells. For example, patient-specific organoids for in vitro disease models or precision medicine may now easily require the expansion of >30 iPSC lines and their differentiation, often towards multiple lineages. This multiplies the number of parallel cell culture. Automation will play an increasingly important role to cope with such explosion in throughput.

This project will design microdroplet microfluidic systems based on recent technology developed in the Gautrot lab, in which adherent cells can be cultured at the surface of liquid substrates whilst retaining a tight control over cell phenotype. The successful student will be trained in microfluidic chip fabrication and will design novel platforms enabling stem cell capture, expansion and monitoring in an automated and highly parallelised process. Stem cell characterisation via a range of techniques (qPCR, western blotting, immunostaining) will allow confirmation of the phenotypes achieved. This project will be integrated with other projects in the Gautrot lab, focusing on the development of biomaterials and nanomaterials as instructive microenvironments for stem cells (http://biointerfaces.qmul.ac.uk/).

Our research group has a strong track-record in the field of biomaterials and biointerface science: their design, fabrication, nano/microstructuring and use to regulate cell adhesion and stem cell phenotype (see Biomaterials 2020, Nature Materials 2012, Nature Cell Biology 2010 and Integrative Biology 2013, Nano Letters 2014 and 2018, and ACS Nano 2018). The successful candidate will join our multidisciplinary team and build a strong expertise in the fields of stem cell biology, bio-microfluidics and biomaterials science for biotechnologies.

Please contact Prof. Gautrot if you have any question. Send your CV to: j.gautrot@qmul.ac.uk

Mini-CDT in Molecular Biochemical Engineering – MoBioC

Research Studentship Details

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) applicants must have: 

  • settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and
  • been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to October 2021.This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences and
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (This does not apply to UK nationals). For EU student applicants see here: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/brexit/student-faqs/

(also see: https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/ for more details)

  • Full Time programme only.
  • Applicant required to start from September 2021.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £17,285 in 2020/21).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline (Biological Sciences, Medicine or Bioengineering).
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Prof. Julien Gautrot

Tel: 020 7882 5263  E-mail: j.gautrot@qmul.ac.uk

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:

http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/subjects/engineering.html

Further Guidance: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2021 SEMS Mini-CDT in Molecular Biochemical Engineering - MoBioC - JEG’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.

Website: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/subjects/engineering.html