Fully funded 4 year PhD position in Nanotoxicology/Nanosafety at the University of Manchester, UK

Employer
The University of Manchester - School of Health Sciences
Location
Other
Posted
September 20 2017
Discipline
Other
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type
Academia

2D materials (2D-M) including graphene based materials (GBM) are being developed for a wide range of applications, such as composite for aerospace, automotive and building materials, or for biosensing and healthcare, or water purification. The global graphene market could be worth > $270 million by 2020. Yet, the knowledge for GBM and 2D-M potential health hazard remains limited and disparate. Lately, there have also been raising concerns about how air pollution particulate matter (in particular nanomaterials) may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. These led us to question whether 2D-M should also be cause for concerns in relation to neurodegeneration. 


The project will aim to tackle the current uncertainties and knowledge gaps in relation to health impact of 2D-M after inhalation and their consequences on the central nervous system. It will focus on a panel of 2D-M which are likely to be used in a form where pulmonary exposure may occur during production or processing of the end-products, such as master batch preparation, inkjet 2D/3D printing, or large surface spraying. Using a panel of 2D-M differing in chemical composition, surface properties, lateral dimensions and thickness, the student will identify the key physicochemical parameters that may cause adverse effects in brain cells, correlating biological endpoints, internalisation and material features. 2D-M identified as hazardous in cells will be further tested in animals, using pulmonary exposure. If an impact on healthy brains is confirmed, an experimental Alzheimer's Disease model will be used to test whether exposure to 2D-M is slowing down or speeding up the progression of the disease. State of the art methodologies and facilities will be available. Imaging and characterisation techniques (including Raman imaging, high-end confocal fluorescence imaging, and high-end electron microscopy) will be used to confirm the fate of materials directly in harvested cells and animal tissues. 


The candidate will be part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Applications of Graphene and Related Nanomaterials (cohort of 20 students for 2017). This programme includes an initial state-of-the-art training in fundamentals of graphene and 2D materials, their applications, and key techniques. The 6-month training is followed by a three and a half year research project. The PhD student will also receive training in media, entrepreneurship, and public engagement. Academic research within the CDT will be complemented by direct engagement with a network of industrial and academic partners. In the lab, the candidate will be trained in animal models, brain cell cultures, preparation of nanomaterials, sectioning (for TEM, histology, cryo), confocal Raman microscopy, immunohistochemistry, biochemical assays. The student will present her/his progress at the annual CDT summer conference (joint conference with Cambridge's CDT; ~80 PhD students) and the annual Lloyd's register foundation ICON conference (20 PhD students).



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