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PhD Studentship in Point-Of-Care (POC) diagnostics platform engineered through biosensors


This PhD project aims to develop a new biosensor platform for Point-Of-Care (POC) diagnostics that enable sample in answer out devices for rapid nucleic acid test and molecular diagnostics. Both antigen-related immunoassays and PCR-related molecular diagnostic assays will be considered. Antigen-based immunoassays require more amount of protein biomarker than molecular diagnostics. Molecular diagnostics is rapidly growing with the increasing adoption of this technology in place of antigen testing by immunoassays. Molecular diagnostics also possess advantages such as high specificity which helps detect even minute amount of biomarkers. This is of crucial importance especially in early detection of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), tuberculosis, measles, dengue, Chagas, cholera, Sepsis and malaria.

At the interface of biology, healthcare technology and bio-electronics, this project will open interesting new directions for ongoing academic research at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with a strong industry team sponsoring the project, which is part of the global Sumitomo company.

Different platforms have been developed for disposable devices with embedded microfluidics, sensing and thermocycling, on silicon, plastics and paper substrates.

The selected PhD candidate will focus on developing a multiplex real-time quantitative PCR device as proof of concept demonstrator of a POC diagnostic assay for Infection Disease, and to adapt current fluorescence-based real-time detection method to an electrical, impedance-based, biosensor array for quantification of target DNA amplicons during the exponential phase of the RT-qPCR.

The PhD project will also look at novel approaches that help overcome the limitations of conventional PCR end-point detection methods, and introduce emerging biosensor technologies as well as new platform materials and substrates, such as paper, to possibly replace optical readout detection methods with precise electrical readout, which provides opportunities for data processing, noise filtering and better extraction of quantitative information.

The main advantages of the proposed platform approach include: cost-effectiveness, biocompatibility, and environmental sustainability.

The PI group at University of Cambridge has strong collaborative linkages to leading global industrial and academic partners, the candidate will also have the opportunity to engage with industrial key players and showcase to potential future employers. This PhD is supported by Cambridge Display Technology Limited, part of Sumitomo Chemical group.

For more details, please contact, the PI: Dr. Luigi G. Occhipinti, email: lgo23@cam.ac.uk

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in an Engineering or a related subject. Previous skills on sensor technologies, or diagnostics and healthcare applications are appreciated.

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions web pages http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/gradadmissions/prospec/apply/, with Dr Occhipiniti identified as the potential supervisor

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