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PhD Studentship - Novel Cell Culture Strategies for T-cell Activation and Expansion

Life and Health Sciences - Studentships

Contract Type:  Fixed Term (for 3 years)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Sunday 08 July 2018
Reference:  R180274

Main Supervisor: Professor Ivan Wall; Associate Supervisors: Dr Kesley Attridge  & Dr Patricia Esteban

Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated candidates to undertake a PhD in the fields of cellular immunotherapy and bioprocessing. The candidate will join the active research groups of Prof Ivan Wall, Dr Kesley Attridge and Dr Patricia Esteban, in collaboration with Glasgow University. 

Cellular immunotherapies are transforming the face of medicine by enabling the rapid and targeted killing of cancer cells. By genetically modifying a patient’s own T-cells, new and highly potent personalised medicines are being developed that can then destroy even the most persistent and hard-to-treat cancers that are refractory to conventional treatments. 

T-cells are non-adherent cells that settle under gravity and require an activation step in order to be expanded. The activation process typically uses polymeric magnetic beads coated with antibodies targeting CD3/CD28. Once activated, the T-cells are transduced using viral vectors encoding a functional element that provides the basis for targeted killing of cancer cells.

There is much improvement still to be made to the current T-cell manufacturing process to ensure continued safety and to drive down manufacturing costs. For example, there are uncertainties around the use of beads for activating the T-cells. This project will assess the effects of alternative activation strategies. This project will draw together unique expertise from two academic groups, spanning perfused, closed system cell culture devices and analytics (Aston) and novel substrate synthesis and geometric patterning (Glasgow).

The successful candidate will be trained in advanced bio-fabrication technologies that can then be assessed for suitability to make substrates that support activation of immunotherapeutic T-cells as a means of replacing the bead-based activation step. The student will generate and analyse quantitative data sets and the research may involve clinical settings. 

Aston University was ranked 5th out of 94 UK Higher Education Institutions for research in Allied Health Professions (REF 2014) and was ranked 1st for research environment. Additional information about research in the School can be found at Informal enquiries can be made to Prof Ivan Wall at:

Financial Support:

The studentship is open to Home(UK)/EU students only and comprises of a tax-free stipend at the 2018/19 RCUK rate of £14,777 per annum and payment of Home/EU tuition fees only. The studentship is available for three years, subject to satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year, with an anticipated registration of 1st October 2018.

Application Requirements: 

? Eligible Applicants should hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either 1st Class/ 2.1 or MSc/MRes in Biochemical Engineering, Biology or a related subject.

? EU Applicants will need to demonstrate adequate proficiency in English Language skills, with a minimum overall score of 93 (Internet Based) (with a minimum score in each section of: R: 18, W: 23, L: 19 and S: 19) in TOEFL or IELTS with minimum marks of 6.0 in each section and an overall band of 6.5.

? To apply, please complete the on-line application form at:, choosing ‘Research Full-Time -Biomedical Sciences (AMS) September 2018’. Please quote Reference: ‘PhD_Oct 2018_Wall’ on your application.

? The Closing Date for All Applications is: Sunday 8th July. 2018

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Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via





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