PhD studentship - 3D printing of fibrous electroconductive biomaterials with controlled architectures for peripheral nerve repair


 

Applications are invited for the following a PhD studentship for the following project: 

3D printing of fibrous electroconductive biomaterials with controlled architectures for peripheral nerve repair

The position will be based with the Buckley Lab (www.buckleylab.eu) within the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research (AMBER) centre. Prof. Buckley leads a multidisciplinary research group in the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. The goal of the Buckley lab is to develop novel biomaterial and cell-based strategies to regenerate or repair damaged tissues to restore function using minimally invasive strategies (MIS).

Summary of project

Peripheral nerve injury remains a major clinical problem. Autografts are the current ‘gold standard’ but are hampered by limited availability of donor tissue with poor prognosis for functional recovery at both the donor and recipient sites. As a result, new approaches are currently being investigated to develop artificial nerve grafts which mimic the properties of autologous grafts. Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques such as 3D bioprinting (3DBP) offers exciting new opportunities and horizons to engineer nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) that more closely match the composition and structure of native nerve tissue. These approaches facilitate precise control over the external and internal microarchitecture geometry. In the context of developing engineered nerve tissue AM offers the added ability to incorporate drug delivery systems with tailorable spatial and temporal release profiles of individual drugs. Similarly, following peripheral nerve injury, the transfer of electrical signals across a damaged nerve is inhibited, resulting in degeneration of the distal nerve segment. Printing offers the potential to create specific geometries with defined micropatterns as well as incorporating electroconductive biomaterials to provide direct electrical activation to enhance tissue repair, enhance cell function and alignment. Applying electrical stimuli may enhance the regeneration as it is known that inhibition of electrical signalling can impede normal tissue function. Using bioinks derived from native nerve as a biomaterial platform developed in the Buckley lab for peripheral nerve tissue regeneration, this project proposes to enhance regenerative capacity of NGCs through the incorporation of electroconductive materials from partner labs in AMBER (e.g. graphene, silver nanowires, polypyrrole).  Such a conductive biomaterial could thus provide direct electrical activation of isolated regions while also providing a scaffolding template to enhance the tissue repair process. Following optimisation of the fabrication/printing process, in vitro biocompatibility of the biofabricated NGCs and the response of cells to electrical stimuli will be assessed using in vitro methods prior to pre-clinical assessment.

For more information please contact Prof. Conor Buckley conor.buckley@tcd.ie

Applicant criteria & eligibility: The ideal applicant will have a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, biomaterials, tissue engineering, materials science or a related discipline.  Previous experience in 3D printing, hydrogels, tissue engineering, cell culture, gene expression, biochemical analysis, mechanical testing, histology techniques would be advantageous but not essential. Excellent written and oral communication skills are essential. Applicants must have been resident in an EU member state for 3 out of the last 5 years to be eligible for funding through this programme.

How to apply: CVs with the names and addresses of three referees should be submitted  via email to Prof. Conor Buckley conor.buckley@tcd.ie with the subject heading “AMBER Nerve PhD Project”. Positions will remain opened until filled but preferred start date is January 2021. Only short-listed applications will be acknowledged.

Funding: This position is funded by the SFI-research centre AMBER and supports annual EU fees and stipend (€18,500 per annum) for 4 years.

About the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research Centre (AMBER): AMBER is a Science Foundation Ireland funded centre that provides a partnership between leading researchers in materials science and industry. More information can be found at http://ambercentre.ie/

The AMBER research centre, as a community of researchers, welcomes its responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all. We are actively seeking diversity in our research teams and particularly encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

About the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering (TCBE): TCBE is a key research centre in Trinity College combining fundamental research with translation to clinical practice. TCBE provides a structure to bring bioengineers, basic scientists and clinicians together to focus on important clinical needs and has four key research themes: Medical Devices & Advanced Drug Delivery, Neural Engineering, Biomechanics & Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine. The project work will be carried out in our state-of-the-art facilities located in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. More information can be found at https://www.tcd.ie/biomedicalengineering/