Due to the aging population new innovations are needed for dealing with osteoporosis; the most common disability among today’s elderly. A promising strategy to remedy the current situation entails targeted delivery of hydrogel embedded stem cell grafts into sites, which are at high risk of osteoporotic fractures. However, a number of challenges need to be addressed to unleash the full potential of such therapies. These challenges include:
- Insufficient mechanical shielding of injected stem cells;
- Lack of understanding of the biological fate of stem cell grafts within load-bearing tissues;
- The “easy-to-damage” nature of conventional hydrogels;
- Low stem cell survival rate.
To this end, combinatorial hydrogels that can mechanically shield stem cells, protect them against the hostile in vivo environment of bone and spontaneously self-heal if damaged are warranted. At the Department of Dentistry (research group Regenerative Biomaterials, Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands), one one-year postdoc position is available focusing on the development of a microhip for high-throuhgput evaluation of self-healable hydrogels for mending bone disorders and osteoporis-related conditions. Specifically, the idea is to desing electrically active hydrogels that can expand and contract in responsive to electromagentic fields to enable a feasible mechanical stimuli scenario for cost-effective testing of hydrogels within a bone-like environment.
Tasks and responsibilities
- Synthesize self-healing hydrogels and characterize their mechanical and self-healing properties;
- Use various micro and nanofabrication methods for chip manufacture;
- Develop self-healing hydrogels that can contract and expand in response to a electrical field;
- Develop a mechanical microchip reactor for high-throughput characterization of such self-healable hydrogels;
- Evaluate the bone inducing capacity of the hydrogels;
- Interact with a highly multidisciplinary team of scientists focusing on development of a novel generation of biomaterials for bone regeneration;
- Supervise MSc and BSc students and disseminate the obtained knowledge by scientific publications and presentations at (inter)national conferences, with the ultimate aim to finalize and publicly defend a PhD-thesis.
- A (recently) completed PhD degree in a relevant area: biochemistry, materials science, chemistry, biomedical sciences or similar;
- Preferably experience with development and mechanical testing of advanced and electroactive materials;
- Preferably experience/affinity with synthesis of stimuli responsive carrier systems;
- Preferably experience/affinity with the manufacture of microfabricated systems for tissue engineering;
- Preferably experience/affinity with the working with decellularized tissues;
- Capacity and willingness to connect the fields of biology and materials science;
- Collaborative mentality and team spirit;
- Eagerness to collaborate with external partners;
- A pro-active and independent attitude.
EMPLOYER – Radboudumc
The Postdoc candidate will be appointed at the department of Dentistry (research group Regenerative Biomaterials, Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) as part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers in- and outside Nijmegen consisting of polymer chemists, pharmacists, materials scientists, biologists, and dental and medical clinicians. The Department of Biomaterials is the leading research group within the Netherlands that focuses on bioinspired strategies for the design of novel, synthetic bone-substituting biomaterials. As such, the research activities within the Department of Biomaterials cover material development and characterization, in vitro testing, in vivo evaluation, and clinical trials.
Radboudumc strives to be a leading developer of sustainable, innovative and affordable healthcare to improve the health and wellbeing of people and society in the Netherlands and beyond. This is the core of our mission: To have a significant impact on healthcare. To get a better picture of what this entails, check out our strategy.