Hands holding medical device in blue abstract concept

Towards reliable detection of uterine contraction: Development of a nanostructured biocompatible electrohysterography electrode array system

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 25 April 2024

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2024

For further details contact: Professor Dingchang Zheng, Centre Director, Research Centre for Intelligent Healthcare, Coventry University


Introduction

This is a four year collaborative studentship which requires the candidate to spend two full years based at Coventry University (UK) and two years based at A*STAR Research Institute (Singapore). The usual pattern is first and fourth years at Coventry and second and third year at A*STAR Research Institute.

The regulation of uterine contraction (UC) activities is involved in the process of pregnancy maintenance, the timely onset and appropriate completion of labour and childbirth. Abnormal UCs may lead to serious diseases (e.g., premature birth), increasing the risks of health problems and even death for mothers and babies (globally, around 4.5 million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths occur every year, WHO 2023). The main device currently available for routine UC detection is the tocodynamometer, which suffers from several drawbacks. The electrohysterograhy (EHG) is a comfortable non-invasive technique which offers an alternative for UC monitoring by recording the signals from electrodes placed externally on the abdominal surface. However, currently, there is no high-density multichannel EHG system that covers large enough area of uterus which can comprehensively reflect the uterine electrical activities, and the quality of EHG signal can be affected by many physiological and environmental factors (e.g., poor skin adhesion, body movement, etc.).

Project details

This interdisciplinary project aims to develop a wearable system with nanostructured biocompatible electrodes to achieve reliable recording of high-quality multi-channel EHG signals for UC detection. The measurable objectives include: 1) Develop a stretchable EHG electrode with high sensitively, elasticity and biocompatibility using different advanced nanomaterials and test it on an artificial skin model; 2) Develop a multi-channel EHG recording system to achieve reliable UC monitoring in different physiological conditions; 3) Record multi-channel EHG signals by the system being developed in this project and comprehensively evaluate their accuracy and sensitivity.

We seek a highly-talented, motivated, and open-minded candidate who has a strong interest in developing innovative healthcare technologies and a broad un-derstanding of wearable sensor design and electrophysiology. The PhD project re-quires working with material scientists, biomedical engineers, and clinicians at dif-ferent stages along the development pathway. Knowledge and/or experience in nanomaterials, wearable sensor fabrication, polymers, organic chemistry as well as chemical laboratory operations is highly desirable. Ability to manage time and work to strict deadlines is required.

Funding

Coventry University and A*STAR jointly offer a fully-funded PhD studentship including tuition fees and stipend/bursary, that is open to both UK/EU and international graduates as part of the A*STAR Research Attachment Programme (ARAP).

Coventry University and A*STAR will only cover the stipend up to a maximum of two years each. Changes to the mobility pattern will only be considered under exceptional circumstances and can impact on the duration of the course and level of funding available. Should a candidate request any changes to mobility which results in the period spent in either the UK or Singapore extending beyond two years then the candidate is responsible for covering the stipend for that period.

Benefits

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.

PLUS

  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years.
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS academic overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Prof Dingchang Zheng, Centre Director, Research Centre for Intelligent Healthcare.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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