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Harnessing macromolecular chemistry to mimic vascular developmental biology

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


Scientific images related to harnessing macromolecular chemistry to mimic vascular developmental biologyFunctional vasculature is necessary to transport oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and is the key to survival of almost all organs in the human body. Disruptions in the blood vessels or blood supply lead to a number of large scale clinical pathological diseases. To date, there are no treatments in the clinic allowing restoration of blood vessels to treat ischaemic tissues due to the incapability to accurately recapitulate the vascular architecture. 3D bioprinting which enables spatial localization of biological cues and cells, has emerged as a potential solution. This project aims to develop a novel vascular bioink, capable of 3D bioprinting high resolution large constructs, with the appropriate soft mechanics required to facilitate functional vasculature formation. The successful outcome of this project will allow restoration of blood macro- and micro-circulation in large ischaemic tissue, alleviating the current socio-economic burden of diseases such as ischaemic stroke, cardiovascular diseases and diabetic ulcers.


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, chemistry, biomaterial characterisation techniques, and mechanical testing. 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 international collaborators at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and University of Wuerzburg, Germany.


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 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