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Funded PhD Opportunity

Advanced polymeric systems for minimally-invasive sampling of epigenetic and biomarker profiling for periodontal chronic wounds/Chronic wound biofluid sampling and analysis

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Summary

In the last 10 years, epigenetic dysfunction has been associated with all major disease areas including infection and chronic wound management. The study of heritable changes in gene expression has become one of the fastest growing sectors of healthcare research and it is estimated that the global epigenetic market is expected to reach $22 Billion USD by 2025, with diagnostic applications across all major disease areas.

This project will look at developing novel diagnostic methods for minimally-invasive fluid sampling, to facilitate miRNA, related biomarkers, and epigenetic profiling in chronic wounds, such as periodontal disease (PD). PD is a common condition affecting the tissue and ligaments surrounding the teeth and is reported to affect >50% of the global population. Untreated, it can lead to gum inflammation, infection, and tooth loss. Small volumes of fluid, called gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) collect in the gaps, called pockets between the teeth and gums. Current GCF sampling techniques, such as micro-capillary pipetting and Perio-Paper® sampling, are not used routinely in practice owing to significant costs, variability in processing, potential for tissue damage, and the disruption of the healing process. Implementation of a non-invasive diagnostic device that could overcome the issues of GCF volume and handling difficulty, will facilitate earlier diagnosis and improved treatment outcomes in PD.

Underlying aim

To design and develop novel polymeric systems for the dection and quantitation of miRNA and biomarkers of inflammation in chronic wounds, such as periodontal disease.

Specific objectives/Methodology

Systematically develop a library of polymeric materials for capture of miRNA & related biomarkers

Fabricate prototype devices with industry scalable techniques e.g. cast manufacture & 3D printing

Establish appropriate physicochemical tests and define target product characteristics

Fully characterise prototype physicochemical characteristics in vitro

Optimise and elucidate absorption/adsorption and desorption processes

Requisite experience

Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

MPharm or MSc, experience of pharmaceutical formulation, analysis or working with medical devices.

References

Demir, E.F. et al. (2018) Synthesis and characterisation of albumin imprinted polymeric hydrogel membranes for proteomic studies. J Biomat Sci 29(18) 2218-2236

Kinane, D.F., Stathopoulou, P.G. & Papapanou, P.N. (2017) Periodotnal diseases. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 3 (17038)

Aliminana-Pastor, P.J., Boronat-Catala, M. & Mico-Martinez, P. (2019) Epigenetics and periodontics: A systematic review. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 24(5) 1698-4447.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • 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.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for 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 £15,000 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.

    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 £7,500 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.

    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.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. 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.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Kieran O'Donnell

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of William Crowe

Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9 to 20 March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Other supervisors

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