- Are you inspired by the potential to use degradable synthetic implants that are transformed into living tissues by the body itself?
- Are you fascinated by our ability to use the immune system to our advantage to induce tissue engineering in situ?
- Are you eager to contribute to better and sustainable healthcare?
- 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?
There is an increasing clinical demand for sophisticated medical implants and the scientific field of implant technology is exponentially growing. The Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) Program is a research program focused on using biomaterials that induce tissue regeneration and restore tissue function directly inside the body. One of the main challenges in this is to harness the immune response to such an implant. In this research we use the immune response to our advantage, by using bioresorbable synthetic biomaterials that are gradually replaced by living tissue inside the body, also called 'in situ
tissue engineering'. One of the key immune cells for this technology are macrophages, which are the gatekeepers for successful implant integration. Our research on this technology has, for example, led to the world's first clinical trials using resorbable synthetic heart valves for children with congenital cardiac malformations.
So far, strategies to harness the macrophage response to implanted biomaterials have focused on isolated biomaterial design features, such as biochemical modifications or implant microstructure. However, materials-driven regeneration is intrinsically reliant on the patient's own regenerative capacity and immunological state, which may be highly dependent on patient-specific characteristics such as sex, age and the presence of common co-morbidities (e.g. diabetes). This leads to unpredictable variability in outcome. The main aim of your research will be to mechanistically unravel variability in the macrophage response to biomaterials, as a consequence of patient-to-patient variability (e.g. male-female differences, influence of age, etc), and to investigate how that leads to variability in tissue regeneration. To that end, you will use sophisticated in vitro (co-)cultures using primary human cells as well as advanced analytical methods for cellular phenotyping, such as RNA-sequencing.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. 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.
You will be an integral member of the ImmunoRegeneration team (headed by Dr. Anthal Smits) and the overarching Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology research group (headed by Prof. Carlijn Bouten) at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at TU/e. TU/e is an open and inclusive university with short communication lines. The people are curious, collaborative, and strive for excellence. TU/e enables its academic staff to develop research and education at an internationally renowned level. Our lively campus community facilitates connections between staff and students, in an open, friendly, vibrant atmosphere that welcomes and inspires.