Micro-fabrication of Silk-based Scaffold Materials for Tissue Engineering: Formulation Design, Processing Control and Stem Cell Differentiation
Applications are invited for a Ph.D studentship in School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science (, and Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (, University of Manchester.

Silk produced by the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, is readily available in large quantity and has a long history of use in medicine as sutures. The fibrous proteins exhibit unique mechanical and biological properties, including good biocompatibility, good oxygen and water vapour permeability, biodegradability, and minimal inflammatory reaction. Such distinctive properties, in combination with the possibility of genetic control to tailor sequence, provide an important set of material options for construction of biomaterial and scaffolds for tissue engineering. Recent experimental studies of engineering cartilage tissue using human mesenchymal stem cells (hMST) have demonstrated that silk-based scaffold materials are superior to collagen and synthetic polymer-based scaffold materials.

In this project, we aim to develop a set of well-controlled silk-based fluids and study their equilibrium and dynamic phase behaviour under flow, thereby to optimise formulation and processing conditions for micro-fabrication of silk-based biofilms through phase separation and electrospinning techniques. The performance of the scaffold materials will be evaluated by a study of engineering cartilage-like tissue using human mesenchymal stem cells and silk-based biofilms. The project involves close collaboration with Professor Tim Hardingham at the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering and Dr Ardeshir Bayat at School of Medicine. Students will also have opportunities to access a wide range of expertise and facilities available within the University of Manchester and beyond.

Funding Notes
Applicants should have, or expect to be awarded a first class or upper second degree or equivalent in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, physical chemistry, polymer physics or a related discipline. Further enquiries may be made to Dr Xue-Feng Yuan (email: and telephone: +44-(0)161-3064887). Applications can be made on-line at, and we require you to provide references and transcripts.

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