We are looking for highly motivated students to contribute to our research. Are you interested in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, clinical translation, stem cells, biomaterials, immunology, implantation, bioreactors and/or 3D bioprinting and do you want to contribute to the development of new therapies for the treatment of bone defects? Then we have a nice research opportunity for you!
Our general research aim is to find new regenerative therapies for treating bone defects with a strong translational focus. We try to help the body to heal itself using two approaches: vascularization of bone; and bone formation via cartilage.
We offer personal supervision for both bachelor and master students for lab internships and writing assignments/theses.
Project 1: creating vascularized bone
Your project will be part of our research line, in which we aim to regenerate vascularized bone tissue from stem cells. The challenges or projects that we are working on, include: vascularizing the tissue (see figure below), selecting the optimal biomaterial, 3D design & printing of a mandibular construct, and perfusion of engineered vasculature.
Left: Bilateral mandibular reconstruction (from: Foley et al., J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013). Right: Prevascular structure that has self-assembled in a hydrogel in vitro from two different stem cell sources. CD31, an endothelial marker, was fluorescently labeled in green.
Project 2: creating bone from cartilage
This project will be part of a research line where we focus on engineering cartilage from bone marrow-derived stem cells, mimicking the pathway of bone formation as it occurs in the growth plates. These cartilage templates are implanted in in vivo models where they are converted into bone tissue. A current focus is also on the interplay of bone regeneration with the immune system.
Left: Spherical stem cell culture containing cartilage tissue (brown) and the onset of mineralization (purple). Together, these make a good template for bone formation. Right: in vivo bone formation (pink) with bone marrow cavities (pink) from one of our biomaterials with a cartilage stem cell culture after 8 weeks of implantation.
In both project examples we offer several of the following aspects: cell and tissue culture, stem cell isolation and differentiation, co-culture models, 3D bioprinting, biomaterial optimization, perfusion bioreactors, (confocal/fluorescence) microscopy, histology, immunohistochemistry, in vivo experiments.
Project 3: regeneration of the mandibular condyle
This project will be part of the research line where we are developing a mandibular condyle by using dental pulp stem cells and 3D materials. Projects will focus on specific subsections such as exploring chondrogenesis of dental pulp stem cells, engineering the layered architecture of the mandibular condyle cartilage, or designing mandibular condyle constructs.
Whom are we looking for?
We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic Master’s students in biomedical sciences (e.g. Regenerative Medicine/Biofabrication/Biology of Disease), SUMMA, biomedical engineering, or biotechnology to complete our research team. Both students looking for research projects and writing assignments/theses are welcome.
How to apply for an internship
Please contact me for more information at d.gawlitta[at]umcutrecht.nl. Do not forget to include your CV, preferred internship period, and specific research interests.