Skip to main content

Study of nanoparticle toxicities with C. elegans using a microfluidic system


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Dr Jung-uk Shim
Additional supervisors
Dr Zhan Ong
School of Physics and Astronomy
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

With the extensive use of nanomaterials in consumer and medical products, there are growing concerns about the nanoparticle biosafety. Conventional cell-based toxicity assays do not provide complex organism-level information, and the use of mammalian animals is costly, time-consuming, and requires a high level of skills and considerations for animal welfare. There are needs to develop convenient and cost-effective means for toxicity tests using whole non-mammalian organisms. C. elegans, with its transparent body, completely sequenced genome, and a high degree of homology with humans, is a highly attractive system for nanotoxicology studies. Their short generation time, low cost, and ease of maintenance have conferred significant advantages. However, the current methods for handling C. elegans are time-consuming and labour-intensive. Microfluidics is fast emerging as a leading tool for C. elegans analysis as the microfluidic channel size is on the same scale as those of worms, enabling precise fluid and worm manipulations, which also allows high-throughput monitoring. The overarching goal of this project is to develop a high-throughput microfluidic platform (named Whole Organism Reproduction Microfluidic Device (WORM Device)) to incubate C. elegans, separate each generation of the animal and to study the responses of worms to nanoparticle exposures, and its genotoxic effects carried over their progenies on-chip. This will involve:<br /> 1. Develop a microfluidic device consisting of multiple storage areas, separated by an array of posts and openings, which allows separation of offspring-worms from parent-worms. <br /> 2. Evaluate the effects of short- and long term nanoparticle exposure to worms and their progenies. We will study the survival rate, lifespan, growth, motility, biodistribution and reproduction of the animal on-chip, which depend on nanoparticle size, shape, and surface-functionalisation.<br /> 3. Investigate the impact of nanoparticles on C. elegans ageing of (i) the different types of particles, (ii) epigenetic effects, such as missense variants of the ryanodine receptor and consequences of chromatin modifications, through successive generations.<br />

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study that you are applying to <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astronomy FT,&nbsp;</strong></em> in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Study of nanoparticle toxicities with C. elegans using a microfluidic system</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr Jung-uk Shim</a> as your proposed supervisor&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px"><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 3 April 2024 for Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship or 8 April 2024 for Leeds Doctoral Scholarship:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants (open from October 2023). The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP) (now closed for 2024/25 entry).&nbsp; <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong> &ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (now closed for 2024/25 entry). The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:</strong>&nbsp; Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not</strong> covered under these studentships.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>For further information about this project, please contact Dr Jung-uk Shim by telephone to + 44 (0) 113 343 3903 or by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>