Design of wearable electrochemical sensor systems for monitoring the well being of ostomy patients

Summary

​Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for a range of chronic and relapsing gastrointestinal disorders with ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) being among the more prominent. Both conditions are estimated to affect more than half a million people in the UK (over 3 m in the US) and it has been estimated that IBD costs the UK National Health service over £1 bn annually. Where the condition worsens and surgery is required, a stoma is often created such that bowel content is collected in a disposable pouch that adheres to the abdomen. While this can be either a temporary or permanent solution, the management of the condition can be problematic in terms of both psychological well-being and physical complications.

The PhD supports a cross-disciplinary collaborative project, funded by the Medical Research Council, focused on improving the quality of life of people living with a stoma and seeks to develop innovative sensor solutions that monitor stoma output for a variety of critical clinical biomarkers. The sensor telemetry will enable more appropriate treatment regimes to be implemented and, where necessary, timely interventions to prevent the onset of complications.

The project builds on previous work by the group on laser induced graphene sensing technologies and will push advances in electrochemical biosensing towards an unobtrusive wearable system that can provide a clear diagnostic picture of the patient’s gastrointestinal health.

The core objectives involve: the design and characterisation of new electrode materials and conductive microneedle systems for biosensing applications modification of the base substrates for the quantification of key clinical biomarkers within biofluids and ileostomy fluid in particular translation of the technology to a wearable format optimisation and analytical validation of device performance and integration of prototype sensors with existing stoma pouch systems

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £18,000 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance).

This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £18,000 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance).

This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living

Recommended reading

​Crowe, E., Scott, C., Cameron, S., Cundell, J. H. & Davis, J., (2022), Developing Wound Moisture Sensors: Opportunities and Challenges for Laser-Induced Graphene-Based Materials, Journal of Composites Science. 6, 6, 176.

Gilpin, V., Surandhiran, D., Scott, C., Devine, A., Cundell, J., Gill, C. IR., Pourshahidi, L. K. & Davis, J., (2022), Lasered Graphene Microheaters Modified with Phase-Change Composites: New Approach to Smart Patch Drug Delivery, Micromachines. 13, 7, p. e1132.

Barber, R., Cameron, S., Devine, A., McCombe, A., Pourshahidi, L. K., Cundell, J., Roy, S., Mathur, A., Casimero, C., Papakonstantinou, P. & Davis, J., (2021), Laser induced graphene sensors for assessing pH: Application to wound management, Electrochemistry Communications. 123, p. 1-6, 106914.

McLister A, Casimero C, McConville A, Taylor CM, Lawrence CL, Smith RB, Mathur A, Davis J (2019) Design of a smart sensor mesh for the measurement of pH in ostomy applications. Journal of Materials Science, 54, 10410-10419  (Springer-Nature Cahn Prize Finalist for July 2019)

Anderson A, Hegarty C, Davis J, (2019) Electrochemically Controlled Dissolution of Nanocarbon–Cellulose Acetate Phthalate Microneedle Arrays, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 11, 39, 35540-35547

Hegarty C, McConville A, McGlynn RJ, Mariotti D, Davis J. (2019) Design of composite microneedle sensor systems for the measurement of transdermal pH, Materials Chemistry and Physics, 227, 340-346

Hegarty C, McKillop S, McGlynn RJ, Smith RB, Mathur A, Davis J. (2019) Microneedle array sensors based on carbon nanoparticle composites: interfacial chemistry and electroanalytical properties, Journal of Materials Science, 54, 10705-10714

Casimero C, McConville A, Fearon JJ, Taylor C, Lawrence C, Smith RB, Davis J, (2018) Sensor systems for bacterial reactors: A new flavin-phenol composite film for the in situ voltammetric measurement of pH, Analytical Chimica Acta (Cover/Feature Article), 1027, 1-8

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 27 February 2023
04:00PM

Interview Date
March 2023

Preferred student start date
18 September 2023

Applying

Apply Online  

Contact supervisor

Professor James Davis

Other supervisors

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