PhD Study : Resorbable Biomaterials for Next-Generation Orthopaedics

Apply and key information  


Traumatic bone injury affects 2.8 million people annually. Current treatment options include metal alloys like Titanium and Stainless Steel, due to their high strength and biocompatibility, making them suitable for use in orthopaedic applications

However, these metallic materials are sometimes too strong which leads to a negative impact on the patient, where the naturally occuring bone starts to degrade. Therefore, this poses a higher risk of implant failure and the need for a second surgery for implant removal or replacement. Magnesium is a bioresorbable metal, meaning it is can degrade safely within the body and its mechanical properties are much closer to that of natural bone. However, when this is placed in the body in its pure form, it begins to react quite quickly and degrades too early, therefore therefore the material requires surface and/or bulk modification to control degradation and provide sustained support to the repairing bone tissue, for the required timeframe.

Traditional cell culture techniques involve growing cells in a static environment, which doesn't fully replicate the dynamic conditions within the human body. Although, 3D cell culture analysis allows scientists to cultivate cells in a three-dimensional setting that closely resembles the human tissue. When it comes to biomaterials used in medical devices, implants, and drug delivery systems, it's essential to understand how they interact with surrounding tissues and cells.

This research involves the application and combination of existing coating techniques to fabricate a multi-functional bioresorbable implant with the required properties. Completion of this research will pave the way for cutting edge implants within the field of orthopaedics, offering improved implant design and better patient experience, whilst removing the economic and societal burden of second surgeries.

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:

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £19,000 (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

1. L. Zdziarski-Horodyski, M. Horodyski, K. K. Sadasivan, J. Hagen, T. Vasilopoulos, M. Patrick, R. Guenther, and H. K. Vincent, Trials 19, 32 (2018)

2. A. A. Al-Tamimi, P. R. A. Fernandes, C. Peach, G. Cooper, C. Diver, and P. J. Bartolo, Virtual Phys. Prototyp. 12, 141 (2017)

3. G. Reith, V. Schmitz-Greven, K. O. Hensel, M. M. Schneider, T. Tinschmann, B. Bouillon, and C. Probst, BMC Surg. 15, 96 (2015)

4. I. I. Onche, O. E. Osagie, and S. INuhu, J. West Afr. Coll. Surg. 1, 101 (2011)

5. J. G. Acheson, S. McKillop, J. Ward, A. Roy, Z. Xu, A. R. Boyd, P. Lemoine, P. N. Kumta, J. Sankar, and B. J. Meenan, Surf. Coat. Technol. 421, 127446 (2021)

6. J. G. Acheson, E. A. Gallagher, J. Ward, S. McKillop, B. FitzGibbon, A. R. Boyd, B. J. Meenan, P. Lemoine, and J. P. McGarry, Surf. Coat. Technol. 429, 127944 (2022)

7. P. Lemoine, J. Acheson, S. McKillop, J. JJP. van den Beucken, J. Ward, A. Boyd, and B. Meenan, J. Mech. Behav. Biomed. Mater. 133, 105306 (2022)

8. M. Clementson, A. Björkman, and N. O. B. Thomsen, EFORT Open Rev. 5, 96 (2020)

9. S. Wilkesmann, F. Westhauser, and J. Fellenberg, Methods Protoc. 3, 30 (2020)

10. Kook Y-M, Jeong Y, Lee K, Koh W-G. J. Tissue Eng.,8. (2017)

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 26 February 2024

Interview Date
March 2024

Preferred student start date
16th September 2024


Apply Online  

Contact supervisor

Dr Joanna Ward

Other supervisors