PhD studentship: Intracellular processing of calcium phosphate nanoparticles in human health and in Crohn’s Disease


The Open University, School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences, Milton Keynes
Closing date: 
03 March 2017
Katja Rietdorf


Calcium phosphate nanoparticles form naturally in the gut, and facilitate transport of bacterial peptidoglycans across the gut epithelium. Once across the gut lining, nanoparticles are scavenged by phagocytic cells and their protein cargo is released (Powell et al., Nature Nanotechnology; 2015). This process may be critical in controlling the inflammatory responses observed in Crohn’s disease.

This project will characterise the processing of nanoparticles by phagocytic cells from healthy subjects and Crohn’s patients. The aim is to establish whether abnormal nanoparticle processing contributes to Crohn’s disease.

This studentship underpins a collaboration between researchers from The Open University and the University of Cambridge, and draws on our long-standing expertise in cellular signalling, biominerals and inflammatory responses. Techniques include fluorescence/electron microscopy, and a variety of molecular biological approaches. The student will be required to work with human cells, in labs based within both The Open University and the University of Cambridge.

Further information

This project is fully funded for 3 years (with tuition fees covered for UK/EU applicants) and provides a stipend of £14,553 per year. Applicants will be expected to have a degree(classification 2:1, or higher) in cell biology, biochemistry, pharmacology or a relevant subject. Good numeracy, ICT, communication and organisation skills are highly desirable. Because the project requires the candidate to work both in Milton Keynes and in Cambridge, a driving license that enables the candidate to travel independently between labs is required. Further details about the project are available at

How to Apply

Please send an email with your CV, a completed application form and a personal statement (outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date) to