Bio-molecular interactions

The study of bio-molecular interactions for the development of novel biological adhesives. Closed to applications.


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Science, UWE Bristol. The studentship will be funded by UWE Bristol/GKN. Ref: 1920-JAN-HAS01.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 April 2020.

The closing date for applications is 31 January 2020.

Studentship details

Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated and enthusiastic candidates, with a background in biochemistry, protein chemistry or bio-interactions to work on a fully-funded PhD studentship. Funding and stipend are provided jointly from the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology at the University of the West of England, Bristol and GKN Aerospace. The PhD will focus on investigation of biochemical bonding mechanisms to create novel adhesives for multiple applications, such as in medical devices, wound healing and bonding engineering materials. The PhD researcher will be primarily based at the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology, but will be expected to directly engage with industrial colleagues at GKN Aerospace on a regular basis.


Biologically derived or inspired adhesives have the potential to provide novel solutions to range of contemporary challenges, such as tissue reconstruction and engineering structural bonding. High adhesion strength, reliability, reversible attachment, attachment to any surface, including those in complex and harsh environments are all advantages that could be realised with biological derived bonding. Adhesives found in nature frequently achieve good bond strengths in warm, wet and dirty environmental conditions. The use of biological adhesives is likely to be less harmful to the environment, use fewer chemicals and reduce safety concerns associated with chemical toxicity and solvent flammability.     

The types of active molecules found in biological adhesives are diverse; however, there are relatively few that employ two components. Two component adhesives are advantageous as they typically have a longer life and allow better control of the bonding and curing process. One example is the reaction between fibrinogen and thrombin which naturally produce fibrin clots in the body. 

This PhD programme will focus on the development of novel two-part adhesives based on the strong binding energies between biological molecules such as biotin and streptavidin. Factors affecting the properties of the bio-adhesive will be investigated in terms of the bio-components, stability, and binding strength. To achieve future exploitation these adhesives will need to demonstrate potential to meet application requirements. The aim of the PhD is to deliver not only high-quality research outputs, but also to demonstrate research impact by proposing a technology development and exploitation roadmap for GKN Aerospace.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Richard Luxton at


The studentship is available from 1 April 2020 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,009 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only).


This opportunity is available to UK/EU applicants only.

Candidates should have (or expect to have) a first-class or 2.1 honours degree or a masters qualification in chemistry, biochemistry or related subject.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please contact Richard Luxton at before submitting your application online. When prompted use the reference number 1920-JAN-HAS01.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references before you submit your application. 

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 31 January 2020.

Further information

Interviews will take place in March. If you have not heard from us by the end of March, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.