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PhD Studentship (3 years) Application of a novel particle coating technology for paediatric formulation development.

Aston Pharmacy School

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Friday 16 July 2021
Reference:  R210206
Release Date:  Thursday 10 June 2021

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the EPSRC and College of Health and Life Sciences, to be undertaken within the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Clinical Pharmacy Research Group at Aston University. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on particle engineering and formulation development.

The position is available to start in October 2021.

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home fees rate, plus a maintenance allowance of £15,609 in 2021/2 (subject to eligibility).  This studentship is only available to Home students.

Background to the Project

The lack of suitable medicines for the paediatric population means that unlicensed formulations are often prepared and administered by healthcare professionals, which entails exposing this vulnerable population to risks in terms of safety and clinical efficacy. The multitude of challenges restricting progress in paediatric medicine development include lack of understanding of dosage forms that offer dose flexibility, safety and commercial feasibility. The translation of paediatric formulations has been limited, due to the limited availability of technologies to formulate commercially viable products that would be applicable for a wide range of high dose drugs. In addition, a limited choice of excipients for safe inclusion in paediatric medicines, together with taste acceptability issues, presents an additional layer of formulation difficulty. Pharmaceutics research group in collaboration with mathematics will be working on this interdisciplinary project  to address some of the challenges in paediatric medicine development by developing  predictive models capable of minimising product failure together with robust decision making tools. 

The overarching hypothesis of the proposal is that application of machine learning, such as radial basis function networks[1] for automated response surface methodology, will produce predictive tools for the manufacture of high dose paediatric dosage forms.  Analytical method development using HPLC and characterisation studies such as surface charge, particle size and polydispersity, SEM and confocal microscopy will be central to this project. Additionally, formulations with high drug loading will be subjected to permeability testing using caco2 cell model. 

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average.

Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of:

  • Good laboratory working skills
  • Well versed in MS Office
  • Experience of working with cell culture would be desirable   
  • Experience of carrying out empirical experiments on data analysis  
  • Basic knowledge of machine learning is an advantage

Contact information

For formal enquiries about this project contact Prof Afzal Mohammed by email at a.u.r.mohammed@aston.ac.uk.  

Submitting an application

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here. Please select “Research Health Sciences (including Optometry, Pharmacy and Psychology Research Areas – Full Time October 2021” from the application form options.

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

  • A copy of your current CV
  • Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree (if studied); this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English.
  • A research proposal statement*
  • Two academic references
  • Proof of your English Language proficiency

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor name, project title and project reference in your Personal Statement.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at pgr_admisssions@aston.ac.uk 


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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 recruitment@aston.ac.uk


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