PhD positions available: 

 

Project 1: Self-assembling Peptides for Biomedical Applications

Designed short peptides can self-assemble into different nanostructures (such as nanoparticles, nanofibrils and hydrogels) through weak interactions and have a variety of applications. This PhD project will investigate the self-assembly of different carefully designed short peptides, understand their self-assembly mechanisms and explore their potential applications in tissue engineering, antimicrobial, anticancer, and drug/gene delivery. The student will be trained to use modern techniques such as AFM, TEM, dynamic light scattering, Langmuir trough, CD spectroscopy and relevant cell assays to tackle this interesting project.

Project 2: De novo Design of Antimicrobial and Anticancer Peptides

The use of classical antibiotics has resulted in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that has become an increasing threat to human health. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are promising alternatives which not only have a broad-spectrum efficacy against bacteria, fungi, viruses and also tumour cells, but also make it difficult for them to build AMR/MDR. This PhD project will design a series of short peptides that can act as antimicrobial and anticancer agents, study how the designed peptides bind with model lipid membranes, investigate their secondary structure and self-assembly using several state-of-the-art tools such as Langmuir trough, CD spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, AFM, and TEM. Their toxicity and selectivity to bacterial and different cell lines will be studied to evaluate their antimicrobial and anticancer effects. 

Project 3: Core-shell Silk Nanoparticles for Targeted Drug Delivery

Silk is a protein fibre produced by silkworm. Extensive research has been carried out to explore the regenerated silk fibroin (RSF) as biomaterials such as tissue culture scaffolds, wound covering materials, and cosmetic components for their impressive biocompatibility and biodegradability. This PhD project is to engineer RSF nanocarriers with magnetic nanoparticles/near-infrared dyes such as Ce6, ICG inside for drug and gene delivery. The student will be trained to use modern techniques such as AFM, SEM, TEM, FTIR, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), CD spectroscopy, Flow Cytometry, Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) to fabricate the nanoparticles and characterize their properties. Biomarker will be conjugated onto the nanoparticles for cell targeting. A combination of relevant cell assays will also be carried out to evaluate the biocompatibility, degradability and biological functions of the fabricated nanoparticles. 
 

Project 4: Microfluidic Fabrication of Nanoparticles/Liposomes for Drug Delivery

Microfluidic devices offer precise control of mixing multiple fluids in microscale, enabling fabrication of advanced nanoparticles/liposomes with tuneable sizes and compositions in a high throughput and repeatable manner. A combination of these remarkable features with carefully selected materials and fabrication conditions enables high efficiency, direct encapsulation of actives in nanoparticles/liposomes with well controlled functionalities. This PhD project is to use a newly designed microfluidic device to fabricate/functionalize nanoparticles/liposomes for drug and gene delivery. The student will be trained to use the microfluidic device for particle fabrication, use modern techniques such as AFM, SEM, TEM, FTIR, DLS/nanosight, CD spectroscopy to characterize the properties of the particles and use Flow Cytometry, Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) etc. to evaluate the toxicity and drug/gene delivery efficacy.

Project 5: 3D Bioprinting of Tissue Culture Scaffolds

3D scaffolds with excellent biocompatibility, biodegradability, sophisticated 3D structures and appropriate mechanical properties are particularly desired as in vitro models in biomedical research and are highly attractive in clinical applications (e.g., as nerve guidance conduits) However, fabricating such scaffolds is challenging. In particular, the lack of precise control of 3D structures (e.g., architectures, porosities, pore sizes and vascularity) in scaffolds has become a major challenge due to the lack of advanced fabrication techniques. This PhD project is to fabricate 3D tissue cultural scaffolds with well-defined architectures using bio printing technologies with various bio-inks such as silk fibroin/sericin, designed self-assembling peptide hydrogels, alginate and chitosan. The student will be trained to use modern techniques such as 3D bioprinters, AFM, SEM, TEM, FTIR, Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) etc. to fabricate the scaffolds and characterize their properties. A combination of relevant cell assays will also be carried out to evaluate the biocompatibility, degradability and biological functions of the fabricated scaffolds. 

Project 6: Inkjet Printing of Flexible/Wearable Devices 

Flexible or wearable electronic devices have recently received significant attentions as potential platforms for low-cost diagnostics or wearable sensors. This PhD project is to use reactive inkjet printing to fabricate flexible devices for different applications such as cancer diagnostics, health monitoring or energy storage etc. The student will be trained to use relevant chemical methods and modern techniques such as inkjet printing, SEM, Interferometry, FTIR, Raman spectroscopy, XPS, XRD etc. to fabricate and characterize the devices. A combination of relevant experiments such as biological or chemical assays or electrochemical tests will also be carried out to evaluate the functions of the fabricated devices.

 

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a 1st class or 2.1 degree (or equivalent if from overseas) or a MSc (merit or distinction) in chemistry, materials, pharmacy, biotechnology, bioengineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering or a related discipline.


If English is not your first language, you must have an IELTS certificate with an average of 6.5 or above and at least 6.0 in each component.

 

Self-funded applications are accepted all year round. tuition fees: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/fees/pgr/atod

How to apply:
All applications should be made online: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply/applying

(please indicate whether you can self-fund your study)

The application must include the following documents: (supporting documents: http://www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/supporting)
 

1. CV (please clearly list your education history, University ranking, GPAs and preferably your position in your class/year)
2. Official record of transcripts and copies of degree certificates
3. Two signed reference letters preferbly on headed papers 
4. IELTS or TOFEL certificate unless exempted (e.g., applicant has done a one-year course taught in English)

5. A one-page proposal for the PhD project

Scholarships:

(Competition based Scholarships will be available in Oct/Nov each year. The deadline for application is in January next year. for more information, see: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd

Please apply through the Postgraduate Online Application System to obtain a self-funded offer to be eligible for scholarship competitions. An interview will be arranged after receiving your application. Please apply well before the deadlines  (Please check: www.sheffield.ac.uk/scholarships) to allow time for interview. A Scholarship Guidance for 2020 is availavle here.

All applicants would be eligible for DTA or Faculty Scholarships (Fees + Stipend), subject to competition. You will need to have an good 1st class/distinction to be competitive (or a GPA > 3.7/4.0 or 4.7/5.0 or 18/20 from a good international university). GPA conversion: https://www.scholaro.com/gpa-calculator/
 

Chinese applicants should also check the CSC funding at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/csc
You will need to have an excellent track record to be competitive (e.g. an average mark > 85% from a 985/211 university, or >90% from a non-985/211 university).

 

For short  time PhD placement, please check the British Council funding: 

https://www.britishcouncil.cn/programmes/education/higher/opportunities/phd

Contact:

Dr. Xiubo Zhao
E-mail:  
xiubo.zhao@sheffield.ac.uk