Meet Jopeth Ramis, Newton Fund grant awardee.

Research topic: Development of Taylor-Couette-Poiseuille flow perfusion bioreactor for tissue engineering of trachea

Host institution / UK university: University of Nottingham

Home institution: Technological Institute of the Philippines

Degree programme: PhD in Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies

Describe your PhD research in layman’s terms.

Several organ degenerative conditions in end stage have no other options besides transplantation. The field of tissue engineering offers a solution where the patient’s cells are used to regenerate the tissue or organ to be replaced. My research will be focused on tissue engineering of trachea, where a biocompatible material will be synthesized to be used to nurture cells and eventually develop the tissue through sufficient culture conditions.

What is the relevance of your study to the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

Organ donor shortage has been a prevalent issue in the Philippines, with the demand that overarches the donors up until the present times. This also posed a socio-economic risk with the organ trading black markets still prevalent in the country. These associated problems have the capacity to be eradicated through tissue engineering, where the donor requirement will be eliminated and, as the technology pipeline develops, reduce the overall cost of medical care for transplantation. The ability to regenerate organs for replacement will remove the costs associated for donor matching tests and post-surgical medications for compatibility. With the current study, patients with tracheal-related pathologies could now have an option for transplantation, as tracheal donors have proven to be difficult to obtain. This study will be used as a platform for diversifying organ regeneration researches, pipelined from simple to complex organs such as kidney and heart to meet society’s need for advanced medical care.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

Armed with an internationally diverse research community, my research in Nottingham has thoroughly been exposed in interdisciplinary environments and hastened my capacity to work with teams of international researchers. State-of-the-art research facilities coupled with modern learning methods equip me with skills in science that can be transferable in an industrial setting. Future collaboration at my current university will be channelled through joint research funds from the British Council and the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines, where a tripartite project coming from my host university (Technological Institute of the Philippines), the University of Nottingham, and a clinical industry will be applied to bring tissue engineered trachea in a clinical setting.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

With the UK aligned in its priorities for research in regenerative medicine, the exponential growth of research has made the country globally-leading in the field. Research infrastructure investment in the University of Nottingham for regenerative medicine and cellular therapies under the School of Pharmacy made it rose to the 6th rank in the world (QS, 2018), with collaborations from similar top ranking universities like MIT and Harvard. The excellence of UK education has been realised through the Newton Fund; a holistic support from PhD grants to research institutional links. Moreover, the Newton Fund tailor-fits its research priorities to the partner country thereby maximizing the benefit of the funds for the societal and economic growth of the nation.