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PhD Microfluidic technologies for investigating vascular cell physiology

A 36-month full-time, fully funded PhD, supported by the University of Strathclyde in partnership with AMS Biotechnology (Europe) Ltd, focusing on microfluidic technologies for investigating vascular call physiology

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


18 January 2018


2 March 2018


3 years


To be considered for the position, candidates must:

  • Possess or be about to receive a 1st class or 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline: electronic, mechanical or chemical engineering, pharmacology, biology or biotechnology related subjects
  • Demonstrate a strong technology-oriented and problem-solving attitude. 
  • Be a UK or eligible EU national and adhere to Research Council (RCUK) eligibility criteria

Eligibility for RCUK studentships

  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide and stems from changes in blood vessel structure. As a result of cell accumulation and growth in the vessel’s inner layers, “plaques” form that narrow arteries and obstruct blood flow. However, uncertainties remain over the origin of the cells populating plaques, the behavioural changes they undergo during disease and the role of interactions between different cell types.

This project will shed new light on the mechanisms causing abnormal proliferation of vascular cells and the cell sub-populations involved. Understanding this, and especially the variations existing at the single cell level, is critical to developing new treatments. Therefore, we will develop a new methodology to continuously track the functional changes that single cells from the vascular wall undergo in response to various stimuli and drug treatments. In collaboration with AMS Biotechnology (Europe) Ltd (AMSBIO), we will develop a novel system capable of continuous microscopy monitoring of single cells, whose chemical and physical interactions are regulated by microfluidic technology, enabling precise control over the local biochemical environment and drug screening assays. This project will provide new information on the proliferative capacity of vascular subpopulations, as well as a novel system for live-cell phenotypic screening.

During the course of this highly multidisciplinary PhD, the student will have the opportunity to develop skills in microfabrication and microfluidic technologies, in vitro cell culture techniques, a wide range of experimental approaches (including live-cell microscopy) and in commercial engagement via interactions with AMSBIO. The student will also have the opportunity to participate in and present their findings at international meetings. 

The project will commence on 1 October 2018.

Funding Details

For UK and eligible EU nationals: Funding will cover full tuition fees and provide a competitive stipend. Provision will also be made with travel costs to appropriate international conferences to present research findings.


The primary supervisor will be Dr Michele Zagnoni, of the Centre for Microsystems and Photonics, within the Institute for Sensors, Signals and Communications in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.  Dr Zagnoni will provide the required expertise in microfluidics, and further information on his research activities can be found here.

Additional academic supervision will be provided by Dr Mairi Sandison, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and industrial support by Mr Alex Sim, AMS Biotechnology (Europe) Ltd.

Contact us

How to apply

For further information and information on the admissions procedure regarding the studentship, please contact Dr Michele Zagnoni on or

The application submission deadline is 2nd March 2018.

The project will start on 1st October 2018.