Postgraduate research opportunities

The development of oxytocin vaginal formulations for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage

Drug delivery and formulation; biopharmaceutics; women’s health

Number of places



17 February 2020


31 July 2020


36 Months


2:1 Honours degree or overseas equivalent

Project Details

Every year about 14 million women around the world suffer from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Most maternal deaths (about 99%) from PPH occur in low- and middle-income countries, equating to a mortality rate of 100 per 100 000 live births.  Active management of the third stage of labour for all vaginal births involves the prophylactic administration of uterotonic medicines before delivery of the placenta. Intramuscular oxytocin administration is the recommended first line uterotonic medicine for preventing and treating PPH.  However, oxytocin is thermally unstable and requires a robust cold chain distribution network to remain effective.  This is a major limitation in resource-constrained countries where the majority of births occur in rural areas where women have limited access to specialist hospital-based obstetric services.  Attempts to formulate a heat-stable injectable preparation have to date been unsuccessful. 

The proposed research will look to formulate thermally stable dosage forms that can be applied intravaginally to allow safe and efficient systemic absorption of oxytocin across the vaginal membranes. 


 Techniques used:

 Project techniques used will include methods in pharmaceutical sciences including formulation development and analytical (spectroscopic, thermal and chromatographic) assessment; design of experiment software; data analysis; in vitro dissolution assessment and in vivo studies.

Funding Details

Applicant will need to self-fund, find sponsorship for tuition and bench fees of £12,000 for duration of studies


Primary Supervisor: Prof Alex Mullen


Further information

Postpartum Hemorrhage: Prevention and Treatment.  Evensen, A., Anderson, JM. and Fontaine, P. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(7):442-449.

Contact us

Primary Supervisor: Prof Alex Mullen