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Biofabrication of hybrid scaffolds for skeletal regenerative medicine

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)
Associate Professor Tim Woodfield, Dr Khoon Lim


Scientific images related to biofabrication of hybrid scaffolds for skeletal regenerative medicineBone, cartilage and tendon are three musculoskeletal tissues where optimal repair or regeneration is often not achievable. This project will focus on hybrid Biofabrication strategies for successful orthopaedic tissue repair, particularly fabrication of functional tissues for bone, cartilage and tendon.

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are shaping the future of orthopaedic surgery and regenerative medicine. Research within the CReaTE group focuses on the development of additive-manufactured orthopaedic implants and regenerative medicine strategies targeting repair of cartilage, bone and tendon for the treatment of musculoskeletal disease. Utilising a platform of 3D bioprinting or biofabrication technologies the group has developed novel bioinks and spheroid/organoid 3D Bio-assembly approaches aimed at producing new classes of tissue engineered constructs for tissue repair.

Biofabrication of hybrid constructs capable of controlling delivery of stem cells and/or bioactive factors to enhance repair and regeneration of cartilage, along with design and fabrication of cellular micro-tissues combined with Bio-assembly processes will be a key focus of this project. Application and testing of constructs will be carried out in relevant in vivo models, with the goals of improving on the current state of the art, enhancing understanding of the underlying biological processes, and progressing a repair strategy toward the clinic.


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, 3D Bioprinting, biomaterial characterisation techniques, and mechanical testing. CAD/FEA, micro-CT imaging, and histology processing experience would be preferred. In vitro cell culture and biochemical analysis techniques 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 partners within the NZ$26M MedTech Centre of Research Excellence – a national consortia of medical technology researchers and industry partners in New Zealand developing a translational research platform taking basic research toward application for economic growth and healthcare outcomes. You will have the opportunity to attend courses as part of the MedTech CoRE Doctoral Training Programme.


Applicants should hold an undergraduate and/or master’s 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 with a possible 1 year extension.

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