University of Exeter
PhD studentship in Ecotoxicology Research Group – Biological Effects of Engineered Nanomaterials
University of Exeter
A three year PhD studentship is available in the School of Biociences to study the ecotoxicology of manufactured nanomaterials.
The project will refine and apply a fish gill cell culture system and combined with some in vivo studies evaluate the ability of manufactured nanomaterials to cross biological membranes and induce health effects.
The project will include training in a wide cellular, molecular and imaging techniques and is part of a large UK-US consortium project funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council with excellent opportunities for collaborations and travel. The project will be supervised at Exeter by Professor Charles Tyler and Professor Tamara Galloway.
The successful applicant should have a good Honours degree in a relevant subject area and preferably some laboratory experience.
For further details about the project you can contact Professor Charles Tyler (c.r.tylerex.ac.uk)
A full CV, and letter of application should be sent to s.d.mudgeex.ac.uk by the 17th September 2010
Background and project details:
Nanotechnology is the new industrial revolution and in the US billions of dollars has already been invested on research into nanoparticle synthesis and product development. The novel arrangements of the atoms in these engineered molecules mean they display chemical properties that make them suitable for a very wide range of applications. Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are entering the environment and in significant quantities, and the potential health risks associated with exposure to nanoparticles are now a major international concern.
Despite this, no government agency has developed safety rules for nano products. Almost nothing is known on fate and biological uptake of ENPs in the aquatic environment. This studentship will thus start to fill a major knowledge gap on the ability of manufactured nanomaterials to penetrate cell membranes using a fish gill cell culture system and intact fish and will include employing cutting edge imaging techniques to do so.
In the proposed programme of work the bioavailability of the selected ENPs will first be assessed into cultured gill cells (a primary route of exposure for fish in the aquatic environment and with relevance to cellular uptake in other in vitro test systems).
Preliminary data suggests that titanium dioxide nanomaterials (used in sunscreens, etc) can be uptaken from water into gill cells, and that these materials can have deleterious effects both in vitro and in vivo.
The in vitro experiments will be used to screen for effects of concentration, ENP size, etc, for a wide range of metal and metal oxide nanomaterilas which will guide a subset of conditions for in vivo work in fish where we will generate information on bioavailability/uptake via the water, partitioning into different body tissues and biological effect measures.
Biological effect measure will range from assessment on the structure of the tissues (through histopathology) to molecular gene) responses.
The in vitro phase of this work will employ a rainbow trout gill cell culture system, where gill epithelial cells are viable for days in culture and display classic in vivo responses to toxic metals.
We also have preliminary evidence of gene expression changes in gill of fish
exposed to ENP. The effects of the ENPs will be determined in a range of environmentally relevant experimental conditions, and include those with strong environmental relevance.
In vivo exposures will use juvenile rainbow trout, in a semi-static exposure system.
The studentship is supported by NERC and US EPA and is part of a large international consortium grant. The student will get training in a wide variety of modern analytical, cellular, chemical and molecular techniques, cutting edge imaging techniques, and integrated whole animal physiology.
The studentship will be supervised by Professor Charles Tyler and Professor Tamara Galloway who run a large and vibrant research area in ecotoxicology at Exeter with excellent peer support and infrastructure.