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Fully-funded PhD Scholarship at Cottingham Rd, Hull, North Humberside HU6

Iron-based nanoparticles with tunable magnetic and surface properties for imaging of heart failure. To celebrate the University`s research successes, the University of Hull is offering one UK/EU PhD Scholarship for candidates applying for the following project Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) are becoming increasingly popular for use in biomedical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the detection of diseased tissues.

For example, low concentration biomarkers can be difficult to detect because of the limited sensitivity of the MRI equipment, however, the signal intensity of MRI can be improved by introducing SPION as a contrast agents. Moreover, SPION can be directed specifically to the in vivo target through the application of a magnetic field or the modification of their surfaces with specific binding groups that interact with the target tissue. 1 Hence, it is crucial to design nanoparticles with tuneable magnetic properties and surface functionalisation to obtain optimum MRI contrast.

Heart failure remains a major cause of death in the UK and is a progressive disorder leading to cardiac dysfunction and cell loss. Current methods such as echocardiography are subjective in interpretation and development of new non-invasive MR methods to determine cardiac dysfunction is critical for in earlier diagnosis and therapeutic treatment. Improvement and refinement of MR techniques will increase resolution and offer new applications for translational research. The production and testing of SPION with optimised properties can only be achieved via interdisciplinary research work between solid-state chemists, biological chemists and biologists.

Dr Francesconi will lead the project and supervise the preparation of new SPION via modification of the chemical composition of both the `iron part` (1) and the `oxide part`(2). The nanoparticles will be coated to make them biocompatible and targeting groups, which bind to cell surface proteins, will be attached. Targets that are of particular interest in many disease types, including heart disease, are involved in the process of cell death. Investigation of cardiac function and metabolism in response to interventions will be probed under various conditions.

This full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship will include fees at the `home/EU` student rate and maintenance (£13,590 in 2011/12, subject to final confirmation) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award by 11th July.

Closing date Tuesday 31st May 2011; Studentships will start in September 2011
Supervisors: Dr Grazia Francesconi
Email: M.G.Francesconi@hull.ac.uk
Telehone: +44 (0)1482 465409
Department: Physical Sciences
Co-Supervisors: Dr Steve Archibald (Physical Sciences), Dr Anne-Marie Seymour
(Biological Sciences), Dr S Rybchenko (Engineering)

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