CN Bio Innovations PhD studentship opportunity

Programme description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship, joining the Hertfordshire Knowledge Exchange Partnership (H-KEP) programme. This integrated project allows graduate research scientists to undertake a 4-year R&D alliance between the University of Hertfordshire (UH) and CN Bio Innovations Ltd. This project fulfils eligibility for a PhD with Industry Experience award.

Start date: October 2019

Duration: 1-year company placement, followed by 3 years programme at the University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with the company.

Company: CN Bio Innovations Ltd, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Stipend: Starts at £14,553 in year-1, plus approved expenses. All students will also receive a maximum contribution towards their individual tuition fees that is equivalent to the Home/EU student fee in each year of registration.

The project

New technologies are being developed to replace, or augment, currently available in vitro cell culture and animal models for assessing drug safety and efficacy, e.g. microphysiological systems (MPS), also known as organ-on-a-chip. These are small-scale, in vitro cell cultures, which model facets of tissue/organ level function. MPS typically contain multiple cell types, co-cultured to recapitulate in some manner the tissue’s histoarchitecture, via controlled positioning of cells in the device, and/or utilising three-dimensional scaffolds

Most in vitro cell culture models of the lung used commercially are simple mono-cultures of epithelial cells raised at the air-liquid interface. MPS can be connected through fluidic circuits, creating advanced multi-MPS that model interactions between organ systems, allowing greater analysis of molecular pathways. MPS may therefore overcome current technological limitations when assessing local PK/PD in the lung tissues.

The aim of this project will be to establish a lung epithelium MPS model which will allow predictive pre-clinical assessment of PK/PD in the lung including toxicology endpoints. This will require pharmaceutical analysis using Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LCMS) to measure biological responses and drug absorption. The epithelial system will also relate to other established MPS (e.g. liver, heart) to be integrated as part of a multi-MPS model to allow the interactions between the lung response and other organs to be accurately modelled in vitro.

  • To develop appropriate liquid dosing, sampling and LC-MS analytical methodologies using CN Bio technologies to achieve PK/TK assessment of lung-systemic models.
  • To culture airway epithelial cells (i.e. primary cells, commercially-available cell lines) in a dynamic environment using CN Bio technology.
  • To develop and characterise (morphological and functional) an appropriate multi-cell MPS of the airways alone and in conjunction with a secondary organ model for PK/PD studies.
  • To assess the feasibility/compatibility of the MPS lung platform with aerosolization exposure techniques.

Supervisor information

  • Dr Tom Kostrzewski, CN Bio
  • Dr Ewelina Hoffman, University of Hertfordshire
  • Dr Vicky Hutter, University of Hertfordshire
  • Professor Darragh Murnane, University of Hertfordshire



  • IELTS 6.5 (or above with no less than 5.5 in any band)/TOEFL 79 (if international student)
  • First or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) from a recognised institution in Pharmaceutical Sciences of Pharmacy, Life Sciences or Biomedical Engineering
  • Strong interest or experience in biological or chemical analysis


  • Industrial/translational experience is an advantage


The deadline for applications is 2 August 2019.

Application process

For further information and to apply for this role please email

Interview dates

Week beginning 19 August 2019.

If you have not heard within 2 weeks of the deadline, you have unfortunately been unsuccessful on this occasion.