Careers and study

Development of an immune-responsive 3D corneal stromal model for drug validation

Project description

Eye infection is a leading cause of corneal opacity – and the fourth leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Emerging pharmaceutical therapies face a key challenge: validation of the therapy in a clinically relevant, easily accessible and up-scalable corneal model.

By combining expertise from clinical ophthalmology, tissue regeneration, macropolymer science and chemical engineering, we have established a PhD program to develop an immune-responsive 3D corneal stromal model using the latest hydrogel polymer technology.

The project aims to:

  1. Optimise all necessary characteristics of a hydrogel film for the growth of corneal stromal cells and immune cells.
  2. Investigate the functionality of the hydrogel film for the optimal condition of corneal stromal homeostasis.
  3. Construct an immune-responsive 3D corneal stroma model in vitro.
  4. Validate the 3D model using pharmaceutical agents during corneal inflammation and scarring.

Structure of supervision

The principal supervisor for this project is Professor Mark Daniell, alongside co-supervisors Professor Greg Qiao, Dr Paul Gurr and Dr Gink Yang.

The supervision teams have collaborated continuously for the past three years on a successful corneal tissue engineering project, with the two senior supervisors having collaborated for over 10 years on various projects.

The program aims to support an aspiring PhD candidate to gain necessary knowledge in both chemical engineering and corneal biology.

The PhD candidate be supervised by the leaders in the academic fields as well as receive comprehensive mentoring to become an industry-ready tissue engineer.

The PhD candidate will be based at CERA with day-to-day project supervision from Dr Gink Yang.

The PhD candidate is also required to conduct training and experiments with Dr Paul Gurr at the University of Melbourne.

The candidate will present their progress to the two senior supervisors monthly.

Requirement for candidates

The potential candidate: A domestic graduate of First-Class Honours or Master’s (WAM>80) with a background in polymer science, chemical engineering, biomedical science or ophthalmology.

Candidates who have higher WAM scores, experience in a laboratory environment or prior knowledge in the relevant research fields will be prioritised.


The candidate needs to be enrolled in the program by 15 December 2023.


The candidate will be supported with a 3.5yr RTP (domestic) scholarship, with extension negotiable.

To learn more or apply for this opportunity, please email Dr Gink Yang at gyang@cera.org.au


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