Near-Human tissue-engineered, dynamic model of the large airways

Prof Martin Birchall, The Ear Institute, University College London
Dr. Gareth Wayne, GlaxoSmithKline

Project Description

As the burden of disease and cost on the healthcare system continue to increase dramatically a tissue-engineered solution may be the only suitable answer. While advances in this field have led to the development of impressive tissue mimics progress has been relatively slow. One of the reasons for this is that current in vivo models almost exclusively use non-primate animals. The data acquired from these “models” offer poor correlation between human and animal systems and the optimisation of the systems for human compatibility can be costly and time-consuming. This limitation may be overcome by developing near-human models in vitro and specifically, those which better fit the structural and functional complexity of human tissue while reducing the use of animals (“3R’s”).

For this project the appointee will create a near-human tissue-engineered dynamic model of the large airways by developing and optimising miniature scaffolds in vitro. The key focus of this project will be to capture human tissue complexity in a repeatable and systematic manner.


The candidate will work closely with leading experts in the field of human respiratory tract engineering and will have access to state-of-the-art cell culture and scaffold characterisation facilities as well as GMP-ready cells and bioreactors to closely approximate the in vivo environment.

This project is intrinsically interdisciplinary and, although targeted training in the necessary techniques will be provided, the successful candidate will have secured a degree in a biological subject and have some previous experience in cell culture. The student will be self-motivating and have excellent communication and team-working skills. He or she will also have a demonstrable aptitude for high quality research ranging from independent working in a laboratory environment to data acquisition and analysis. Experience or awareness of materials’ characterisation methods is desirable.

Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (for example BA, BSc, MSci) or a Masters degree in a relevant subject. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Martin Birchall ( in advance of the deadline, 20th January 2017 at 5pm.

To apply you will need to send the following documents in a single email to: All documents must be submitted in unprotected PDF format.

  • Completed Application Form (Sections A and B) including details of two Academic References
  • The disability and ethnic origin monitoring form
  • Official Final Transcripts from Completed Programmes of Study
  • Official Interim Transcripts from On-going Programmes of Study
  • English Language Qualification (if required, please see below)
  • Academic CV
  • Copy of Passport

Please click the relevant links below to download a zipped folder of application documents in your preferred format.
Application Pack (Word).zip
Application Pack (PDF).zip