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A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Friday, 15 March 2019
Academic background
Health Sciences
Host campus
Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine (Christchurch)
Dr Khoon Lim, Associate Professor Tim Woodfield, Professor Gary Hooper


Scientific images related to biofabrication of living bone graftsBone injuries, disorders and diseases result in severe bone defects. Autologous bone transplantation remains as the standard clinical approach used to treat large bone defects. However, there are critical limitations associated with the bone graft harvest, such as donor site morbidity, prolonged surgery time and limited supply. This research aims to use a 3-dimensional (3D) bioassembly approach, pioneered by the CReaTE group, which allows control over the spatial organization and localization of individual building blocks that can be combined to form a multi-functional bone graft. The candidate will be working on fabricating functional building blocks (containing cells, growth factors etc) to be implemented with the 3D bioassembly technology.


The research will primarily take place at the University of Otago Christchurch, a multi-disciplinary campus recognised for its outstanding reputation for combining basic science and clinical health research. The University of Otago is a member of the Mataraki network of universities and rated 5 stars for quality in 2018 per QS stars rankings. Christchurch is a vibrant city based on the coast and close to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, with ample opportunities for outdoor activities locally including mountain biking, surfing, hiking and skiing. Christchurch was recently rated as one the world’s top 10 cities to visit by Lonely Planet.

For a video all about Christchurch and what it’s like to undertake research in the CReaTE Group and University of Otago Christchurch campus – visit

Skills required

We are looking for enthusiastic PhD candidate with the following skills: Significant experience with 3D scaffold fabrication, Biofabrication, cell culture. In vitro cell functionality assays, biochemical analysis techniques and animal handling experience would be highly valued, as well as intrinsic motivation and independence are essential.

You will work within the CReaTE Group, a multidisciplinary research team of bioengineers, biologists and clinicians working at the interface of cell biology, biomaterials science and engineering. There will be significant opportunities for PhD candidates to interact with medical device industry partners as well as orthopaedic and veterinary surgeons. You will work in close collaboration with international collaborators at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands.


Applicants should hold an Undergraduate and/or Masters degree in one of the following areas: Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering, Biofabrication/3D Printing, Bioengineering, Polymer Chemistry or other related biological sciences or engineering disciplines, and preferably should have an ‘A’ grade average (or equivalent GPA).

Funding arrangements

A NZ$25,000 per annum stipend including fees (approx. NZ$9,500) for the duration of the 3-year PhD degree.

To apply

All candidates with high motivation, independent thinking, and good communication skills (both written and oral) should apply. Please send a copy of your full CV including references to publications/conference proceedings; copies of undergraduate/ postgraduate academic transcripts; the names of two referees, and any other supporting information relevant to the project (e.g. lab/assay skills, software/hardware expertise) to


Deborah McMahon