PhD Studentship in Self-Assembling Nanoclay Gels for Stem Cell Driven Bone Regeneration

University of Southampton

United Kingdom

PhD Studentship in Self-Assembling Nanoclay Gels for Stem Cell Driven Bone Regeneration

Human Development and Health

Location: Southampton General Hospital

Closing Date: Friday 19 June 2020

Reference: 1263820AF

Main Supervisor: Jonathan Dawson

Other members of the supervisory team: Roxanna Ramnarine Sanchez, Nick Evans, Richard Oreffo

Amount of stipend and fees: £15,596 plus tuition fees at UK/EU rate

Duration of the award: Three years, full-time

Project description:

We are seeking applications from high calibre graduate students for a fully funded 3 year PhD studentship at the interface of nanomaterials and stem cell biology.

Stem cells have the potential to cure a wide variety of conditions by regenerating diseased or damaged tissue. A stem cell functions in response to cues received from its surrounding environment and so learning how to control this environment in the body is key to unlocking the potential of stem cells for regenerative medicine.

Our group have pioneered the development of injectable gels formed from nanoclay particles. Gelation occurs spontaneously in the body as the clay particles bind and interlock with proteins adsorbed from blood. These protein-rich 'nanoclay gels' create environments favourable for stem cells to colonise. We have established a medtech start-up company called Renovos that is seeking to translate this technology for bone fusion surgery.

While exploring this approach, we have discovered an exciting and unanticipated opportunity to form complex and high-resolution patterning of proteins within the 3D structure of nanoclay gels. This allows a unique degree of control over the stem cell microenvironment through the formation of biochemical gradients that template new tissue formation. This PhD project will explore the potential of this approach to coordinate stem cell function with blood vessel formation to enhance tissue regeneration.

You will be working within a dynamic team of biologists, materials scientists and medics within the Centre for Human Development Stem Cells and Regeneration. There will also be the opportunity to gain commercialisation and translational experience through interactions with Renovos.

Please contact: Jonathan Dawson,

Person Specification: See below

This project is highly interdisciplinary but could particularly suit strong candidates with physical chemistry or cell biology backgrounds.

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters
Funding information: The funding covers stipend and fees for UK/EU students only. Internationals students may apply but will need to secure additional funding to cover international student fees. The first year’s funding will be allocated initially, with subsequent funding subject to satisfactory progress of the student. The student must start on or before December 1st 2020.

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University's online application form, which you can find at

You should enter Jonathan Dawson as your proposed supervisor. To support your application provide an academic CV (including contact details of two referees), official academic transcripts and a personal statement (outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date).

Informal enquiries relating to the project or candidate suitability should be directed to Jonathan Dawson (

Closing date: 19/06/20

Interview date: 24/06/20

In your application, please refer to


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