Sculpting polymer environments for nerve regeneration.

Prof. Martin Birchall (primary)
UCL Ear Institute
University College London
Dr. Zoe Mann (secondary)
Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences
King's College London


Central and peripheral nervous system trauma lead to severe loss of function and long-term disabilities. Tissue engineering offers a way to recreate the native, healthy environment in which new cells are grown and introduced to the injury site. This project aims to generate a functional neural response in a chemically and physically controlled environment.

The interdisciplinary team combine clinical expertise with fundamental biology, chemistry, and engineering. The student will develop skills in cell culture, materials science, cell metabolism, and membrane physiology, offering unique insights into neural cell differentiation for clinically relevant regenerative applications.


1- Chen, J.; Lee, H.J.; Jakovcevski, I.; Shah, R.; Bhagat, N.; Loers, G.; Liu, H-Y.; Meiners, S.; Taschenberger, G.; Kügler, S.; Irintchev, A.; Schachner, M. The Extracellular Matrix Glycoprotein Tenascin-C is Beneficial for Spinal Cord Regeneration. Mol. Ther. 2010, 18, 1769–1777.

2- Cregg, J.M.; DePaul, M.A.; Filous, A.R.; Lang, B.T.; Tran, A.; Silver, J. Functional Regeneration Beyond the Glial Scar. Exp. Neurol. 2014, 253, 197–207.

3- Mehrban, N.; Zhu, B.; Tamagnini, F.; Young, F.I.; Wasmuth, A.; Hudson, K.L.; Thomson, A.R.; Birchall, M.A.; Randall, A.D.; Song, B.; Woolfson, D.N. Functionalised α-helical peptide hydrogels for neural tissue engineering. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2015, 6, 431-439.

4- Blacker, T.S.; Mann, Z.F.; Gale, J.E.; Ziegler, M.; Bain, A.J.; Szabadkai, G.; Duchen, M.R. Separating NADH and NADPH fluorescence in live cells and tissues using FLIM. Nat. Commun. 2014, 5, 3936.

5- Smith, K.E.; Browne, L.; Selwood, D.; McAlpine, D.; Jagger, D.J. Phosphoinositide modulation of heteromeric Kv1 channels adjusts output of spiral ganglion neurons from hearing mice. J. Neurosci. 2015, 35, 11221-11232.

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
ChemistryEngineeringMathematics / StatisticsMicroscopy / Electrophysiology