Work and study with us

The Healthcare Technologies Institute are striving to advance new technologies and treatments that encourage better tissue healing and rehabilitation tools. We are seeking to recruit interdisciplinary research staff and students of outstanding quality across all areas of research conducted within our Institute.

Current job vacancies

Research Fellow in Polymer Chemisty and Bionanotechnology - School of Chemical Engineering - 80209 - Grade 7

A Research Fellow position is available from March 2023 for a two-year project to work in the field of polymer chemistry and bionanotechnology. 

Sugar chains, known as glycans, perform a vast array of biological functions and play key roles in various physiological and pathological events. Thus, glycans are a rich source of biomarkers for many diseases, including neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, hereditary disorders, immune deficiencies, and cancer. However, a major technological bottleneck exists in the development of binding entities that can recognise glycan biomarkers with high specificity and affinity. This hampers major advances in the early and accurate diagnosis of many devastating human illnesses.

The aim of this project is to generate polymeric nanoparticles with the capability to recognise a broad range of glycans with high affinity and specificity. Furthermore, the nanoparticles need to accurately detect glycans in complex biological samples. The project involves an unprecedented combination of principles and methods of polymer chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, synthetic molecular recognition and nanochemistry. The project will have transformative impact towards early detection of different cancers, including prostate cancer.

Supervisor:  Professor Paula Mendes (The Mendes group)

(Closing date 22nd January 2023)

PhD studentships

We are currently advertising the following PhD studentship opportunities:

EPSRC funded PhD position with lifETIME CDT: Identifying how phosphate balance influences the bone healing process
(Application deadline: 31 January 2023)
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Professor Liam Grover, Industry partners: Zimmer Peacock and DSTL

Bone is a complex tissue. When damaged, it can fully regenerate, regaining its initial structure and properties. Large-scale damage, however, can result in fibrous tissue ingrowth and skeletal deformity. To prevent this, bone defects can be filled with grafting material e.g. calcium phosphate ceramics that drive bone formation (osteoconduction) and trigger de novo bone formation (osteoinduction). 

The student undertaking this project will be trained in tissue-culture, micro-XRF, microCT, SEM, immunofluorescence/confocal/light-sheet imaging, “omics” (genomics/proteomics/metabolomics) to understand cell differentiation/signalling in this system. They will work with industrial partners to develop inorganic assays to determine the balance between ortho- and pyrophosphate in solution, to validate the sensitivity electrochemical sensors. This technology will allow identification of optimal bone formation conditions, enabling the intelligent design of regenerative therapies.

EPSRC funded PhD position with lifETIME CDT: Tissue engineering the intestinal microbiome: Establishing a manufacturing process for microbial transplant systems
(Application deadline: 31 January 2023)
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Richard Horniblow, Industry partner: DSTL

Ablation of the intestinal microbiome and antibiotic overuse contributes to the increased incidence of modern-day diseases, highlighting the importance of the intestinal microbiome in health and disease. Faecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT) is a new treatment approach that involves transplanting faecal material obtained from a healthy donor into the colon of a patient. 

The successful PhD candidate, alongside a team of biological chemists, biomaterial scientists, computational microbiologists and gastroenterologists will adapt and develop a state-of-the-art
model of the intestinal microbiome (MIMic – Model of the Intestinal MICrobiome) to produce synthetic FMT that is compositionally similar to current FMT yet safe. The project offers training in
microbiology, next generation sequencing and bioinformatics, biotechnology, computational biology and biomaterial processing.

EPSRC funded PhD position with lifETIME CDT: Novel portable technology for early-stage dermatological cancer diagnostics (DERMATech)
(Application deadline: 31 January 2023)
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Professor Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer, Industry partners: Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Horiba

This project is of a highly interdisciplinary nature, at the interface of microengineering, biophysics and medicine, will focus on developing and engineering new methods for improved and accurate detection and assessment of skin cancers as well as understanding, monitoring and controlling the cellular and tissue responses to therapeutic treatments. Overall aim will be focused on development and clinical validation of advanced device for point-of-care diagnostics: ‘Novel Portable Technology for Early-stage Dermatological Cancer Diagnostics (DERMATech)’.

EPSRC funded PhD position with lifETIME CDT: Modelling cargo loaded macrophage trafficking across liver endothelium: a new approach to drug delivery in liver cancer
(Application deadline: 31 January 2023)
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Shishir Shetty, Industry partner: Cell Guidance Systems

Cases of primary liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular cancer (HCC) are rising rapidly in the UK and new therapies are urgently needed. Immune therapy has shown promising results and in this project we want to explore the potential of using a specific immune cell called macrophages. Pre-cursor macrophages, called monocytes, are found in our blood circulation but they can leave the circulation and enter organs throughout the body. Macrophages are attractive as a target for immunotherapy as their behaviour can be altered to attack tumours and they can also potentially acts as drug delivery agents because they can engulf particles and transport them to sites of disease. To help their delivery we are studying how macrophages can cross blood vessels through cells called endothelial cells. We will use cutting edge imaging and modelling to see how macrophages cross the liver endothelial cells in different physical environments of fluid flow and endothelial stiffness and assess how efficient this process is when macrophages are pre-loaded with cargo. This project will help understand the physical factors which control macrophages crossing the liver barrier and help to design new approaches to promote macrophage cell therapy for liver cancer.

PhD position: Bioelectronic Therapeutic Patch for Colorectal Cancer studentship
(Application deadline: 3 February 2023, European/UK Students only)
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Gerard Cummins

This project will investigate the use of flexible electronic patches that reside within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract for generating tumour-treating fields to suppress colorectal cancer and enhance drug delivery. This will involve using printed electronics in combination with conventional electronic systems. The successful applicant will test various designs of a flexible electronic patch using suitable in-vitro models.

PhD position: Ingestible Electronic Systems for Chemical Detection of Gastrointestinal Inflammation
(Application deadline: 3 February 2023, European/UK Students only)
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Gerard Cummins

The successful applicant will build on past work by the group in wireless ingestible electronic devices to create a chemical-sensing ingestible electronic device capable of detecting clinically used chemical markers of GI inflammation. The sensor will utilise electrochemical detection principles due to ease of integration with the electronic system.

PhD position: MIBTP: Development of a physiologically relevant platform to inform clinical practice and limit antimicrobial resistance in orthopaedic implants
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Sophie Cox, Co-supervisor: Dr Tim Overton

This PhD will develop a physiologically relevant platform to inform orthopaedic clinical practise with the aim of limiting AMR. For this purpose, the experimental plan will be focused in four principal areas:

  • Ascertain the effectiveness of antibiotic and antimicrobial mixtures, dosing and regimes on the short term and long-term resistance development of an array of wild and laboratory strains of both gram positive and negative bacteria typically associated with orthopaedic implant infections.
  • Unravel the phenotypic and genetic mechanisms behind the observed changes in resistance.
  • Modification of an existing bioreactor set up to create a physiologically relevant infection model for both planktonic bacteria and orthopaedic device surfaces.
  • Engage with healthcare experts and regulators to optimise current practices.

EPSRC funded PhD: Understanding and improving the topography of additive manufactured implant surfaces
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Dr Sophie Cox

This PhD is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design at the University of Birmingham. The aims of this project are to study and quantify the formation of surface roughness on selective laser melting components. From this point we may develop or refine post-processing treatments that specifically compliment these roughness features, and explore the interaction of these newly formed surfaces with cells and bacteria.

EPSRC funded PhD: The roles of nanotopography and vibration on controlling long-term bacterial adhesion
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor:  Professor Paula Mendes

This PhD is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design at the University of Birmingham. This project aims to explore how sub and supracellular vibrational stimuli are perceived and processed by bacteria and if vibration and nanoscale topography can act in synergy to induce superior anti-bacterial properties. 

Self Funded PhD: Glycan sensing technology for early and accurate cancer diagnosis
Department of Chemical Engineering, Supervisor: Professor Paula Mendes (The Mendes group)

The project will focus on developing advanced glycan sensing technology for detecting a broad range of glycans with high affinity and specificity in complex biological samples. The project involves an unprecedented combination of principles and methods of polymer chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, synthetic molecular recognition, and nanochemistry. The project will have a transformative impact on the early detection of different cancers, including prostate cancer

Informal enquiries can be directed to Professor Paula M Mendes via email: p.m.mendes@bham.ac.uk

PhD position: Modelling the control mechanisms underpinning hormone dynamics in humans
(Applications accepted all year round, UK citizens/EU with settled status only)
School of Mathematics, Supervisor: Dr Eder Zavala

The goal of this project is to develop a mathematical understanding of normal endocrine function and its dynamic responses to perturbations, particularly those that elicit a “stress response” (e.g., physical and psychological stressors, inflammation, mistiming of meals, sleep disruptions).

Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr Eder Zavala via email: e.zavala@bham.ac.uk

Outreach opportunities

The School of Chemical Engineering is dedicated to raising awareness of chemical engineering amongst young people by working closely with schools, colleges, teachers and career advisors.

Visit the Chemical Engineering outreach page or email Lois at l.j.boyle@bham.ac.uk for more information.

For Work Experience placements, email: hti@contacts.bham.ac.uk