- Are you fascinated by the potential of synthetic implants that transform into living heart valves by the body itself?
- Are you intrigued by understanding the processes of in-situ heart valve tissue engineering?
- And motivated to find engineering solutions to prevent valve failure due to calcification?
- Are you eager to contribute to better and sustainable healthcare at the interface of engineering and biology?
- Are you passionate about inspiring and mentoring students and working in a high-end collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment?
- Are you our next PhD candidate in materials-driven tissue regeneration?
The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is seeking a highly-talented, ambitious and passionate PhD candidate to investigate the risks and mechanisms of calcification of in-situ tissue engineered heart valves. We aim to understand what is happening when in-situ
tissue engineered heart valve implants calcify and why this happens. The answers will teach us how to optimize the design of our implants to prevent calcification. As the successful candidate, the research that you will carry out with us will be part of wider efforts aiming at in situ
regeneration of living tissues under the umbrella of the national Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) Gravitation Program.Job Description
In-situ tissue engineering (TE) of heart valves has rapidly progressed over the past two decades as it prospects a great alternative to autologous, xenografted, and non-biological materials for valve replacements. In this approach, a degradable synthetic valve replacement is implanted at the site of a diseased, degenerated, or malformed valve, where it gradually remodels into a viable, living tissue. To date, outstanding challenges prevent a safe clinical translation of this approach, one of them being the formation of calcification nodules within the grafts. Calcification formation is commonly found in preclinical evaluations of in-situ tissue engineered scaffolds. Albeit the exact causes of calcification in these scaffolds, relevant to prevent this drawback, are unknown, previous studies suggest roles for the immuneresponse to the scaffold and hemodynamic loading of the scaffold.
You will generate unprecedented experimental data to unravel the driving mechanisms of calcification within in-situ tissue engineered constructs, with the goal to prevent calcification in these constructs. Your investigations will combine knowledge from the fields of biological bone mineralization and in-vivo pathological calcification of valves with data from calcification in in-situ tissue engineered constructs obtained from explanted grafts from previous in vivo studies, as well as data from sophisticated in vitro experiments that mimic the in vivo cell-matrix environment in the valve. To that end, your research will include a selection of techniques including: i) in vitro (co-)cultures using primary human cells as well as advanced analytical methods for cellular phenotyping, such as RNA-sequencing, ii) scaffold fabrication and tissue culture using those scaffolds, iii) sophiscated tissue analysis, including advanced microscopy, raman spectroscopy, and image analysis. You are expected to write a doctoral thesis, and publish your research results in scientific journals. A small part of your doctoral position will involve teaching in courses as well as the supervision of students at the bachelor's and master's levels offered by the group. Also, an educational and professional development program will be offered to you.Embedding
You will be embedded in a highly inspiring research environment, both socially and professionally, which facilitates access to high-end research facilities, as well as fosters interdisciplinary collaborations. You will be an integral member of the Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology (STEM) group of the Department Biomedical Engineering, and specifically operate at the interface of the teams led by prof Carlijn Bouten (Cell-Matrix Interactions for Cardiovascular Tissue Regeneration) and dr Anthal Smits (ImmunoRegeneration) at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at TU/e.
Your project is part of the Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) Research Center (https://mdrresearch.nl/
). The MDR Research Center is a partnership between Eindhoven University of Technology, Maastricht University and Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute. This consortium was brought together to advance tissue and organ regeneration approaches with the use of instructive biomaterials. The MDR Research Center was awarded a 18.8 M€ grant in May 2017 by the ministry of education, culture and science of The Netherlands in the framework of the Gravitation program. The interdisciplinary team of researchers within the MDR consortium aims to focus on the research and development of new, intelligent materials that stimulate the regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues and organs. In order to strengthen our research center, we are looking forward to meet highly motivated and talented people that would like to contribute in the interesting yet complex multidisciplinary area of Materials-Driven Regeneration. We stimulate and foster cross-institutional collaborations as part of the project.