School of Pharmacy

EU/UK Funded Vacancies

Funded by research councils, charities and industry, these studentships cover tuition fees and, for most UK and some EU students, provide more than £13,000 per year towards living expenses. They last four years, or three if you already have an MRes, MSc or other postgraduate degree.

Male student working with a microscope

 

How to use the table:

We've listed specific positions with secured funding in the table below. Clicking on a member of staff's name will take you to their personal home page whereas clicking on a PhD title will show more details about that particular project. If your research interest isn't listed, please contact us to talk about potential opportunities.

 

Research Opportunities (EU/UK students)

DivisionMember of StaffTitle
Molecular Therapeutics and Formulation Division Dr Naoto Hori

Development of molecular simulation model for heterogeneous RNA and RNA-protein structures

Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies Dr Jing Yang

3D printing of osteogenic and cortical-bone-strong scaffolds with biomaterials and human blood for personalized bone tissue engineering

Advanced Materials and Healthcare Technologies Veeren Chauhan

Fluorescent Nanosensors for Biological Measurement

Advanced Materials and Healthcare Technologies Veeren Chauhan

Whole Organism Analytics using Free-Living Nematodes

 

Dr Christopher Parmenter

Native state imaging and characterisation of hydrogels using advanced electron microscopy through the development of new techniques

Molecular Therapeutics and Formulation Division

Professor Phil Williams

PhD studentships in the University of Nottingham / EPSRC Thematic doctoral training programme in Astropharmacy: Space Biology and Space Engineering

  Dr Anna M. Piccinini

3D OrbiSIMS for the investigation of the molecular fingerprints of cellular senescence

Current research opportunities

Development of molecular simulation model for heterogeneous RNA and RNA-protein structures

Supervisor: Dr Naoto Hori and Prof Charles Laughton

Subject areas: Biophysics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, computational chemistry, computational physics, physical chemistry, polymer chemistry

Specific project outlines

The successful candidate will tackle one or more of the below biophysical problems with expert academics in computational chemistry and biophysics. Our goal is to understand RNA structures, dynamics, and mechanisms linked to various cellular functions, diseases, and nucleic-acids therapeutics.

In recent years, it has become clear that RNA molecules play active roles in a variety of cell regulatory processes. In addition, RNA molecules have a great potential for therapeutic applications, as evidenced by the success of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. However, despite advances in molecular biology and bioinformatics, little is known about the molecular structures of RNA in cells and under formulation conditions, especially for long messenger RNA and non-coding RNAs. Molecular simulations are useful for understanding the structure and dynamics of RNA, are an excellent complement to experiments which often provide only indirect information about structures. We develop and apply coarse-grained models to elucidate folding and assembly mechanisms of various RNAs (see references). This PhD project aims to extend the applicability of the models to longer single-stranded RNA and RNA-protein complex structures. Several challenges need to be addressed; some examples are, 1) an efficient sampling algorithm should be developed to simulate diverse structures of long RNAs, 2) design and implement a model of RNA-protein interactions for simulating ribonucleoprotein complexes, 3) simulating RNA structures under complex formulation conditions such as cationic lipids and polymers.

Eligibility

  • The studentship is only available for UK candidates. The studentship will provide full-time home tuition fees and annual stipend, in line with UKRI minimum stipend rates for 36 months
  • Candidates must possess or expect to obtain a master’s degree in physics, chemistry, or related science discipline. Equivalent research experience, such as research assistantship, will also be considered
  • The project is particularly suitable for candidates with a physics or chemistry background who would like to continue or start developing their expertise in computational biophysics
  • Experience in some form of programming is desired. The project involves writing scientific programs in Fortran and Python

References

How to apply

Informal inquiry before applying is welcome and recommended. Please send your CV and a brief statement of your research interests by emailing Naoto Hori.

Application deadline: Applications are accepted all year round. Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found; therefore, you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

 

PhD studentships in the University of Nottingham / EPSRC Thematic doctoral training programme in Astropharmacy: Space Biology and Space Engineering

Supervisor: Prof Phil Williams (Schoo of Pharmacy) and Dr Chantal Cappelletti (Faculty of Engineering)

Subject areas: Biology, Computer Science, CubeSats, Engineering, Pharmacy, Space Science, Space Systems, Biotechnology, Aerospace, Control Systems, Electronic engineering, Biotechnology, Chemistry

Duration: 4 years 

Specific project outlines

You will join the team of postgraduate researchers who have recently been selected to participate in the European Space Agency’s Orbit Your Thesis! programme. Orbit Your Thesis! is an educational programme offered by ESA Academy for students to operate their self-developed experiment in the International Space Station. Aboard the station, the payload is integrated in the ICE Cubes Facilities operated by Space Applications Services situated in the Columbus module. After flight, the experiment will be returned for further analysis on-ground.

You will join the team of researchers and will contribute to the development of the molecular science of the on-demand expression of protein-based therapeutics (including cell-based and cell-free), the pharmaceutical science of the on-site manufacture of medicines (such as additive manufacturing), or the computational, electronic and systems engineering design, construction and development of space-flight systems for such on-site, on-demand manufacture.

Eligibility

Due to funding restrictions, the position is only available for home/UK candidates.

Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, a 2:1 or first class degree in an Engineering, Natural (including Pharmaceutical), or Physical Sciences related discipline.

Project outline

Applications are invited for fully-funded PhD studentships (4 years) within the School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham. The students will work within interdisciplinary supervisory teams in the collaborative science and engineering in the design, construction, development and testing of on-site, on-demand manufacture of pharmaceuticals in a space environment, including on CubeSat platforms.

How will we travel to, colonize, and sustain healthy life on Mars? At a time when the world’s space agencies have formed the Global Exploration Roadmap for the long-term human habitation of the planet, this doctoral training programme is focused on addressing this grand challenge. Findings will also be applicable for more classical terrestrial applications on earth.

This goal cannot be achieved within one research group or within one discipline and requires a fundamentally new approach to scientific research, bridging global research groups and scientific disciplines.   We do this from the viewpoint of, and using our expertise in, engineering, computer science, biology, medicine, pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical manufacturing & formulation, and sustainability.

How to apply

Apply online now

Please upload a CV, a one page cover letter detailing relevant research experience and the contact details of two referees.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this opportunity before applying, please email Prof Phil Williams (Pharmacy/Science), or email Dr Cantal Cappelletti (Engineering).

Application deadline: 31 August 2022

 

3D printing of osteogenic and cortical-bone-strong scaffolds with biomaterials and human blood for personalized bone tissue engineering

Supervisors: Dr Jing Yang and Prof Alvaro Mata

Start date: 01 October 2022

Duration: 42 months

Subject areas: Tissue Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Application deadline: 31 August 2022

Specific project outlines

The specific objectives of this project are:

  1. Develop a 3D printing process to fabricate scaffolds with mechanical properties close to human cortical bone. Test the mechanical properties of the printed scaffolds with tuneable architectural parameters.
  2. Engineer blood gels with tuneable mechanical properties. Co-printing of scaffolding materials and blood gel.
  3. Test in vitro osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stem cells in the scaffolds.

Training on the methodologies that will be utilised in the project will be provided to the PhD candidate. The main methods include: extrusion-based 3D printing, fabrication of blood gels using self-assembling techniques and human blood, cell culture and characterisation of in vitro osteogenic differentiation.

Eligibility

The student will be co-supervised by Dr Jing Yang and Prof Alvaro Mata in the School of Pharmacy.

The studentship will provide for full-time Home tuition fees, an annual stipend, in line with UKRI minimum stipend rates (£15,609 per annum 2021/22 entry). The studentships will run for 42 months from 1 October 2022. 

Project outline

Biomaterial scaffolds are used in bone tissue engineering for promoting new bone regeneration and stabilising the facture bone. An ideal biomaterial scaffold for healing load-bearing large bone defects should have cortical bone matching mechanical properties and osteogenic properties for promoting new bone regeneration. Scaffolds possessing these two traits currently do not exist. The aim of this project is to produce 3D printed scaffolds combined with engineered human blood gels to obtain osteogenic scaffolds with mechanical properties matching cortical bone.

Current scaffolds made of bioactive glasses, bioceramics and their composites have only achieved mechanical properties in the cancellous bone range. Cortical bone is approximately an order of magnitude stronger than cancellous bone. Metals, such as titanium, are widely used in orthopaedic surgeries where high mechanical properties are sought. However, they are much stiffer than bone. The Young’s modulus of titanium is approximately 10 times of cortical bone. This mismatch in mechanical properties shields the physiological stresses from the surrounding bone, which weakens them and makes them prone to fracture over time. Therefore, scaffolds matching human cortical bone mechanical properties are urgently needed.

Potent osteogenic biomolecules such as bone morphogenic protein 2 (BMP2) are now widely used in various orthopaedic surgeries such as treating non-union fractures. However, the supraphysiological dosage used in clinic has caused various complications such as uncontrolled excessive bone growth and cancer. This has prompted researchers to investigate other means to enhance osteogenesis.

Human beings have evolved to fully heal bone fractures at small scales. This process is triggered and regulated by the Regenerative Hematoma/Clot (RHC), which comprises a rich source of endogenous factors and cell populations that are critical for stem/progenitor cell recruitment, immunomodulation, osteogenic differentiation, and ultimate bone healing. However, the RHC is often disturbed or removed during fracture reduction, internal fixation, and debridement in orthopaedic surgeries, leading to poor bone regeneration. Rebuilding the RHC in bone fractures using the patient’s own blood could potentially overcome major current limitations in fracture treatment and enable personalized regenerative implants that are low in cost, easily deployable, and low risk to patients compared to stem cell therapies or bone marrow aspiration.

How to apply

Please email your covering letter, CV, and any questions to Jing.yang@nottingham.ac.uk

If you have any questions regarding your paplication, please email Jing Yang.

You should include

  • References (optional) Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic).
  • A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
  • Your personal statement (500 words maximum) should include:
    (i). Your suitability for the project
    (ii). Your research experience
    (iii). What you hope to achieve from a PhD

You must refer to the project title.

Application deadline: 31 August 2022

Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found, therefore you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Applications accepted until post is filled.

 

Fluorescent Nanosensors for Biological Measurement

Supervisor: Veeren Chauhan

Application deadline: 30 September 2022

Aim: This exciting EPSRC Funded project will be to develop and apply fluorescent nanosensors for biological measurement. This will produce an advanced platform that will optimise disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention, through developments of new understating of biological microenvironments.

Background: Fluorescent nanosensors are inert, versatile biosensors, that can be used to make important measurements of key molecules and ions in microenvironments at the physics of life interface and are ideal for real-time measurements of dynamic processes [1].

 At the University of Nottingham, fluorescent nanosensors have been developed to quantify pH, [2] molecular oxygen [3] and temperature [4] in complex model systems. Of these sensors, the pH-sensitive fluorescent nanosensors have gathered the greatest momentum. They have been evaluated and validated in a range of complex and diverse microenvironments and demonstrated their immense potential by mapping the acidification in nematode model organisms (Caenorhabditis elegans [5] & Pristionchus pacificus [6]), elucidation of subcellular fermentation pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae [7], determined the intracellular processing of foreign material in human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) [8] & characterised the evolution of acid by-products during bacterial biofilm growth [9].

 This project will continue the application of pH-sensitive fluorescent nanosensors to diverse biological environments, which include fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and CHO/Heck 293 cell culture for bioprocessing. As well as develop new biosensors for key biological molecules and ions.

Impact: The new understanding gained from innovative analytical tools developed as part of this project will advance micro-environmental insights in biological systems, currently not possible with conventional techniques, such as probes and free fluorophores. This will ultimately lead to the optimisation of disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention through improvements in understanding of ion and molecule flux in biological microenvironments.

This project will provide diverse training opportunities for the PhD candidate in fluorescence, microscopy, spectroscopy, analytical chemistry, particle characterisation and model system culture. With support from the experienced supervisory team, the research conducted will pave-the-way towards establishing new methods towards the understanding the complex and dynamic functions of ions and molecules in diverse biological systems. This data obtained will be used to generate high impact publications and opportunities to disseminate research at international conferences.

Eligibility 

At present these opportunities are only for UK students only

  • Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, > 2:1 degree in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy or related scientific discipline, which include Bioinformatics and Mathematics
  • The project is suitable for candidates with a scientific background who would like to develop their experimental analytical skills.
  • A background in bioinformatics and mathematics is desirable.

How to apply

Visit our How to apply page. 

Please upload your covering letter, CV, and academic transcripts as part of the online registration process.

If you have any questions regarding your paplication, please email Veeren Chauhan.

You should include

  • References (optional) Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic).
  • A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
  • Your personal statement (500 words maximum) should include:
    (i). Your suitability for the project
    (ii). Your research experience
    (iii). What you hope to achieve from a PhD

You must refer to the project title. 

Application deadline: 30 September 2022

Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found, therefore you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Applications accepted until post is filled.

 

Native state imaging and characterisation of hydrogels using advanced electron microscopy through the development of new techniques

Supervisors: Dr Christopher Parmenter and Dr L White

Keywords: Analytical chemistry, applied chemistry, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, manufacturing engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacy, structural biology, tissue engineering

Duration: 4 years

Application deadline: 4 July 2022

Aim

We have an exciting opportunity for a PhD studentship involving the development of new imaging protocols and hardware for native state imaging of beam sensitive materials applied to regenerative medicine materials. The EPSRC iCase funded position will be a collaboration with an industrial sponsor to develop hardware and handling protocols in cryogenic microscopy. The aim will be to create a solution for routine FIB-SEM to TEM transfer to enable cryo-TEM of soft-matter samples.

This 4-year PhD project, based in the School of Pharmacy will utilize excellent cell culture facilities and state-of-the-art microscopy instrumentation available within the University’s nanoscale and microscale research centre (nmRC). Cryogenic Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy (Cryo-FIB-SEM) instrumentation will be employed to interrogate the nanoscale structures of gels and investigate the interactions of cells in the matrix as employed in a tissue culture setting.

This multi-disciplinary project combines practical skills in gel production, working in a cell culture setting and analytical science of gel materials. The project will combine these areas to better understand how the gel properties and cell types affect the cell-gel interaction within the 3D scaffolds for cell culture. The result will be an improved understanding of how these factors can be tuned for their desired application. This project seeks to make the most of the world leading capabilities and facilities available at the University of Nottingham particularly in biomaterials design and native state three-dimensional analysis.

Background

There is a long history of imaging soft matter, particularly of a biological nature, using cryogenic electron microscopy. For samples to be analysed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) the dimensions are limited to a thickness of approx. 200 nm. Where samples cannot be directly deposited or grown on the grid, a sample preparation issue can be a stumbling block that requires advanced preparation. This is particularly true where the sample is a bulk sample, requiring cryogenic preparation, which must be maintained throughout the preparation procedures, including transfer into the TEM. As yet, there is no reliable solution for this, and it is a bar to the routine preparation of TEM suitable samples. The extracellular matrix (ECM) in native mammalian tissues provides a structural and functional framework to support tissue resident cells and promote cellular function.

ECM derived hydrogels have considerable utility as vehicles for cell delivery in regenerative medicine and as 3D substrates for in vitro cell culture, but the full potential has yet to be reached. To date, characterisation of ECM hydrogel structure has been limited to freeze-drying, removing water from the hydrogels, which is not representative of the native state. There is a need for new imaging modalities to inform both understanding of the ultrastructure of ECM hydrogels and interactions of cells seeded within these materials.

Eligibility

  • The University of Nottingham has the capacity to augment a limited number of UKRI studentships to full international fees. This scholarship is eligible for this, but the award of international fees is subject to availability of these scholarship upgrades at the time of request. Due to these funding restrictions, the position may only available for UK candidates.
  • Funding is available for 4 years starting October 2022

You will:

  • receive the training needed for a professional career as a multidisciplinary analytical scientist
  • receive a full studentship tax free (fees and stipend at UK/EU rates) for 4 years
  • work directly with leading academics and the industrial sponsor at their facilities for a period of 3 months
  • receive a travel and consumable allowance

How to apply

Email Dr Christopher Parmenter your cover letter, CV and academic transcripts to apply for this position.

You should include

  • References (optional) Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic)
  • A CV, including full details of all university course grades to date.
  • Your personal statement (500 words maximum) should include:
    (i). Your suitability for the project
    (ii). Your research experience
    (iii). What you hope to achieve from a PhD

Application deadline: 4 July 2022

Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found, therefore you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

 

Whole Organism Analytics using Free-Living Nematodes

Supervisors: Veeren Chauhan

Application deadline: 30 September 2022

Aim

This exciting EPSRC Funded project will aim to determine the physicochemical properties of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living worm using next-generation analytical techniques. This will produce a platform that will optimise disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention.

Project

Effective modelling of the physical and chemical properties in humans is challenging. This is because humans are large complex animals, which are not completely understood and can be both scientifically and socio-economically challenging to characterise. Therefore, there is a strong international drive to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research so that this precious resource is reserved.

C. elegans, a free-living worm, is the most completely understood animal on the planet. This is due to its small size (<1 mm), short generation time (<3 days), optical transparency, availability of genetic variants and exclusion from Home Office animal regulations. Researchers working with this organism have received Nobel prizes for advances in genetics, green fluorescent protein labelling and RNA interference. To date, the complete genome, proteome and connectome for C. elegans have been mapped. However, currently there is no readily available metabolic information on C. elegans.

This project will fill the important knowledge gaps in organismal metabolomics in by harnessing the state-of-the-art facilities at the School of Pharmacy and University of Nottingham.  Liquid chromatography will be used to decipher metabolomes for nematode to identify global trends in metabolome similarities and differences. Surface sensitive mass spectrometry will be used to spatially coordinate metabolic shifts in metabolome. Atomic Force microscopy will be used to understand the physical properties. New microscopy and bioinformatic tools will be developed to streamline data analysis and organisation.

Impact

The scientific firsts developed as part of this project will be used exciting research at the forefront of physics biology and chemistry. This will be a valuable resource for researchers to improve their understanding of the physiological state of whole organisms and those furthering the knowledge of C. elegans as a model for complex mammalian biochemistry. This will include optimising disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention.

This project will also provide diverse training opportunities for the PhD candidate. With support from the experienced supervisory team. The research conducted will pave-the-way towards establishing new and improved models and analytics for drug delivery to augment understanding of whole organism metabolomics. This will also produce high impact publications and opportunities to disseminate research at international conferences.

Eligibility

At present these opportunities are only for UK students only

• Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, > 2:1 degree in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy or related scientific discipline, which include Bioinformatics and Mathematics
• The project is suitable for candidates with a scientific background who would like to develop their experimental analytical skills.
• A background in bioinformatics and mathematics is desirable.

How to apply

Visit our How to apply page. 

Please upload your covering letter, CV, and academic transcripts as part of the online registration process.

If you have any questions regarding your paplication, please email  Veeren Chauhan

You should include

  • References (optional) Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic).
  • A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
  • Your personal statement (500 words maximum) should include:
    (i). Your suitability for the project
    (ii). Your research experience
    (iii). What you hope to achieve from a PhD

You must refer to the project title. 

Application deadline: 30 September 2022

Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found, therefore you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Applications accepted until post is filled.

 

3D OrbiSIMS for the investigation of the molecular fingerprints of cellular senescence

Supervisors: Dr Anna M. PiccininiDr David Scurr and Dr Mischa Zelzer

Keywords: Analytical chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and pathology

Application deadline: 26 August 2022

Aims

This project aims to develop a method to characterize the biochemical fingerprints of cells that allows to distinguish senescent and non-senescent cells. Efficient identification and characterization of senescent cells will help understand senescent programmes and identify specific markers and therapeutic targets.

The successful candidate will receive training in mammalian cell culture, 3D OrbiSIMS analysis and data processing and analysis in addition to immunoassays and biochemical assays for assessing senescence and validation and measurement of candidate biochemicals.

Background

As we age our tissues accumulate senescent cells, which play important roles in health and disease across the lifespan. During aging and age-related conditions (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, etc.), senescent cells accumulate and release molecules that harm neighbouring cells. Under other conditions such as cancer or wound healing, senescent cells can prevent tumor growth or promote new tissue growth.

Telomere shortening, oxidative and genotoxic stress, radiation and oncogenes are typical stimuli capable of inducing cellular senescence. Human cells become senescent when cell division stops. Whilst remaining viable, senescent cells undergo distinct phenotypic alterations, including flattened and enlarged morphology, altered composition of the plasma membrane and nuclear enlargement. Senescence is associated with multiple molecular changes reflecting profound alterations in cellular metabolic activity and gene programs along with chromatin remodelling and engagement of persistent DNA damage response.

Cellular senescence occurs progressively and is heterogeneous and dynamic in nature, with molecular changes that vary in a time, tissue and cell type dependent manner. Although a few common hallmarks of cellular senescence exist, the senescent phenotype is highly diverse, with underlying mechanisms not necessarily conserved among the various senescence programs. Existing senescence markers are not specific, and some of them can only be detected in vitro. Thus, multiple senescence-associated markers must be used, and the identification and characterisation of senescent cells remains challenging, especially in vivo.

3D OrbiSIMS allows label-free, untargeted high-throughput chemical imaging and analysis. Compared to other established mass spectrometry methods, 3D-OrbiSIMS allows analysis of biological samples in situ bypassing sample preparation, which can alter samples; has relatively high resolution (2mm), enabling visualization of spatial distribution of analytes within cells; and simultaneously identifies a range of chemistries.

Eligibility

  • The studentship funds tuition fees at Home level.
  • If an International applicant were successful in the recruitment process they would need to make up the difference between Home and International tuition fees.

How to apply

Email Dr Anna Piccinini your cover letter, CV and academic transcripts to apply for this position.

You should include

  • References (optional) Contact details for two academic or professional referees (at least one academic)
  • A CV, including full details of all university course grades to date.
  • Your personal statement (500 words maximum) should include:
    (i). Your suitability for the project
    (ii). Your research experience
    (iii). What you hope to achieve from a PhD

Application deadline: 26 August 2022

Please note that the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found, therefore you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

School of Pharmacy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

For all enquiries please visit:
www.nottingham.ac.uk/enquiry