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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Next generation organ-chip models – integrating 3D mechano-predictive environments

Supervisors: Hazel SCREEN

Application Deadline: 30-01-2022

An organ-chip is a micro-scale engineered system, recreating the architecture, functions and physiochemical environment of living human organs, enabling an in vitro exploration of organ health, drivers of disease, and enabling the testing of new therapeutics.

The importance of the technology for driving 3R initiatives has led to very significant industrial interest, as organ-chips have clear potential to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry.

Organ-chips are already been used to explore drug toxicity and to support vaccine research, However, challenges remain in engineering the complex 3D cell niches seen in structural organs of the body, where externally applied mechanics heavily impact phenotype and disease state within an organ.

This project is part of the “Engineering Better Medicine” PhD cohort for 2022 entry.

It focuses on developing, validating and adopting 3D matrix environments within organ-chip models to explore the impact of local physical cell environment on phenotype and response to biochemical challenges.

It will explore how inflammation and degeneration can be modulated by the physical cell niche within organ-chip environments, designing and building 3D matrices of different stiffness and architecture to explore the impact on cell behaviour and the initiation of inflammatory, degradatory cell pathways.

We are looking for candidates with strong interest in multidisciplinary work. The project will involve significant cell culture, cell imaging, biochemistry and molecular biology, alongside biomaterials development and the use of engineering approaches to control and measure material properties within models. We are looking for individuals with skills in some or all of these areas, with some experience of cell culture particularly desirable.


This studentship is fully funded via the UKRI EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme for 3.5 years and includes a stipend (currently £17,609 in 2021/2022) and Fees.


This year UKRI announced that there will be a limited number of studentships for international students available.  International applicants are encouraged to apply but should note that studentship awards will be subject to eligibility and the availability of funding.

To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or  
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classified as an international student.

Further guidance on UKRI Eligibility Criteria is here, and within Annex One of the International Eligibility Guidance.

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Candidates are expected to start from September 2022

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Professor Hazel Screen


Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the PhD Full-time Medical Engineering - Semester 1 (September Start) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:​

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2022 EPSRC DTP HRCS’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.