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Mimicking microenvironment for controlling stem cell behaviour to enhance tissue engineering efficacy


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Additional supervisors
Xuebin Yang, Lin-Hua Jiang, Michiya Matsusaki
School of Dentistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

It has been generally accepted that tissue engineering requires three basic elements: cells, growth factors and biomaterial scaffolds. However, only these three basic elements may be not sufficient enough for functional tissue engineering. Therefore, there are increasing research efforts looking at how the biological, chemical and/or mechanical microenvironments influence stem cell/progenitor behaviour.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>In natural conditions, bone is formed by two processes &ndash; intramembranous and endochondral ossification. Intramembranous ossification is that osteoblast directly lays down type I collagen extra cellular matrix (ECM) into the primitive connective tissue (mesenchyme). These ECMs can then become mineralised to form bone. While endochondral ossification involves cartilage as a precursor and osteoblast lay done bone matrix to replace the cartilage precursor. But in both processes, osteoblasts will be trapped within the newly formed bone matrix and either change to osteocytes or undergo apoptosis. During this cascade event of bone formation, the microenvironments surrounding the stem cells, osteoprogenitor, osteoblast and osteocytes are dynamically changed. Therefore, how to mimic the microenvironmental surroundings may play a key role in controlling cell function, which in turn controls tissue regeneration strategy.</p> <p>We have recently shown the possibility of fabricating hydroxyapatite nanocrystal composites on the surface of individual stem cells (Saha et al, Chemistry Letters, 2015). The overall aim of this project is to use similar approaches and/or develop novel approaches to mimic the microenvironment of targeting cells for controlling cell behaviour and function to enhance tissue engineering efficacy.</p> <p>This is a collaborative project between Dr Xuebin Yang (Clinician and bioengineer with expertise in clinical orthopaedics and tissue engineering), Dr Lin-Hua Jiang (Biologist with expertise in ionic signalling) and Dr Michiya Matsusaki (Material scientist with expertise in functional polymers and biomaterials for biomedical applications) at Osaka University (Japan).</p> <h3>Aims and Objectives</h3> <p>The objectives include but are not limited to:</p> <p>1. Isolation of stem cells from human tissues (such as bone marrow or dental pulp tissue);<br /> 2. In vitro expansion and characterisation of these stem cells;<br /> 3. Using layer-by layer coating methods or 3D printing methods to create nano-films on individual cells or 3D in vitro models;<br /> 4. Using alternate soaking method to fabricate Hap nanocrystals on the individual cell or cell pelleted to create a hard shell on individual cell or pellet;<br /> 5. Assessment of the effect of this microenvironment change on the cell cycle, signalling pathway and functionality;<br /> 6. Assessment of stem cell surface marker expression before and after the change of the microenvironment;<br /> 7. assessment of the cell functionality after removing the shell;<br /> 8. Use elected/optimised approaches to test their potential for enhancing bone tissue engineering strategy in vitro and/or in vivo.</p>

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

<p>Applications can be made at any time. To apply for this project applicants should complete a<a href=""> Faculty Application Form</a> and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) and degree certificates to the Faculty Graduate School <a href=""></a></p> <p>We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these <a href="">references</a> on your behalf, directly to <a href=""></a></p> <p>If you have already applied for other projects using the Faculty Application Form this academic session you do not need to complete this form again. Instead you should email <a href=""></a> to inform us you would like to be considered for this project.</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>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>

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

A degree in biological sciences, dentistry, medicine, midwifery, nursing, psychology or a good honours degree in a subject relevant to the research topic. A Masters degree in a relevant subject may also be required in some areas of the Faculty. For entry requirements for all other research degrees we offer, please contact us.

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

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests for PhD, MSc, MPhil, MD are: &acirc;&euro;&cent; British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0 &acirc;&euro;&cent; TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

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

<p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e: <a href=""></a> t: +44 (0)113 343 8221.</p>