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


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Friday 1 October 2021
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Professor Ian Hope and 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: 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. 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. 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.

<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 research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Study of nanoparticle toxicities with <em>C. elegans</em> using a microfluidic system&rsquo; as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr Jung-uk Shim</a> as your proposed supervisor.</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><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></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><strong>Self-Funding Students</strong></p> <p><strong>Funding Eligibility</strong></p> <p><strong>UK/EU</strong> &ndash; Alumni Bursary for previous graduates from the University of Leeds offering 10% discount on Academic Fees, School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Scholarship award and Bell Burnell Scholarship award&nbsp;paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,285&nbsp;per year for 3 years</p> <p><strong>International Students</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;Alumni Bursary for previous graduates from the University of Leeds offering 10% discount on Academic Fees, School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Fee Only Scholarship award paying Academic Fees for 3 years and Bell Burnell Scholarship award&nbsp;paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,009 per year for 3 years</p>

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

<p>For further information please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp; &nbsp;<a href=""></a> or by telephone:&nbsp; + 44 (0) 113 343 5057.<br /> OR</p> <p>Dr Jung-uk Shim &ndash;&nbsp;Telephone:&nbsp;&nbsp;+ 44 (0) 113 343 3903 or email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

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