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Developing novel glycan-functionalised composite biomaterials for improving bone formation

Project summary

St Lucia
Research area
Biological sciences, Biomedical and clinical sciences, Chemical sciences

Project description

Heparan sulphate (HS) plays key roles in many biological processes, including wound healing, as it binds and protects critical pro-regenerative factors within a wound site. HS-functionalised biomaterials have shown promise in enhancing the endogenous wound healing response in various models, including bone repair.

This project aims to investigate novel methods for functionalising common biomaterials used in bone repair (such as (poly)caprolactone and hydroxyapatite) with HS using several different grafting strategies. These novel, glycan-functionalised biomaterials will then be characterised extensively using chemical, physical, biophysical, and biological techniques to assess structure, function, and ability to enhance osteogenesis.

Candidates should ideally have experience in bioengineering, biomaterial science, or cell/ molecular biology. Any knowledge or experience in glycobiology would be advantageous.

Research environment

The supervisory team of Dr Smith and Professor Cool will provide excellent supervision and mentoring, and the project will be supported by a strong team of post-docs and research assistants.

UQ's School of Chemical Engineering offers a safe and supportive working environment with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to ensure the success of this project. This includes access to PCII labs with analytical and preparative liquid chromatography systems, surface plasmon resonance, multi-angle light scattering, polymer synthesis, 3D bioprinters, and more.


This project is supported by the Research project scholarship.

This scholarship includes:

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered.

This scholarship includes:

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single overseas student health cover (OSHC) for international students.

Learn more about the Research project scholarship.


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your:

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history

A working knowledge of bioengineering, biomaterials, cell biology or biochemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

You will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of biomaterials, glycobiology, and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of biomaterials and/ or glycobiology is highly desirable.

How to apply

Before you apply

Before submitting an application you should:

  1. check your eligibility for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  2. prepare your documentation
  3. contact Dr Alex Smith ( to discuss your interest and suitability
  4. submit your application by 2 October, 2023 2 October, 2023.

When you apply

You apply for this scholarship when you submit an application for your program. You don’t need to submit a separate scholarship application.

In your application ensure that under the ‘Scholarships and collaborative study’ section you select:

  • ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  • ‘I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'
  • ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and in the ‘Name of scholarship’ field enter BIOMATERIALS-SMITH.

Apply now