Postgraduate research opportunities

Developing an ultrawide dynamic range analytical platform for biomarker panel analysis

The aim of this project is to address the challenge of directly detecting disease biomarker panels in serum featuring target species whose relative concentrations span many orders of magnitude.

Number of places



1 June 2020


36 or 42 months


Applicants must have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or above in a relevant discipline (chemistry, bioscience, biomedical science, bioengineering) and satisfy the University minimal entry requirements for PhD study.

Project Details

The development of robust analytical technologies capable of providing an accurate disease snapshot of a panel of biomarkers in a patient sample remains a significant challenge. Many analytical sensing technologies are limited to the measurement of just one analyte at a time and lack either the sensitivity or measurement range required. For example, biomarkers such as Tau protein important in Alzheimer’s disease can be present in serum at very low native concentrations (< 100 fM) alongside other markers at much higher (micromolar) concentrations and there is need of an analytical approach that enables quantitative detection and direct comparison of multiple biomarkers over such a large concentration range.

We aim to address this measurement challenge utilising a combination of both optical instrumentation and data analysis design alongside the preparation and functionalisation of plasmonic substrates and integrated microfluidics for sample delivery and preparation. Ultimately, it will be possible to extend the measurement range from the single nanoparticle/molecule level to sensor fractional surface coverages associated with much higher target concentrations. The system performance will be demonstrated using biomarkers associated with neurological disease with the aim of being able to directly detect these directly in-patient serum samples while avoiding any target separation steps prior to analysis. This project will build on the experience of the research group. Ultimately, being able to perform such measurements robustly also has the potential to be adapted to a large variety of other diseases and further increasing the potential impact of this project.

How to apply

Please email Dr Alastair Wark if you would like to apply for this opportunity.