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Dr Ben Newland

Dr Ben Newland

Lecturer

I joined the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in October 2017 to continue my highly interdisciplinary research into the use of nano, micro and macroscale materials for use in neuroscience research. Specifically I have developed microscale spherical hydrogel scaffolds for cell and growth factor delivery to the Parkinsonian brain and I am developing a variety of other materials for applications in multiple sclerosis, cytokine delivery and neuroimaging.

I joined the Cardiff School of Biosciences in 2013 on a Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Fellowship (carried out in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, Dresden, Germany).

My path to Cardiff University looked like this:

2005 - BSc Natural Sciences, University of Durham

2006 - PGCE - Teacher Training, University of Leeds

2007 - Qualified secondary school teacher (Chemistry specialist)

2008 - MRes Nanomaterials, Imperial College London

2013 - PhD Thesis at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), National University of Ireland Galway –under supervision of Prof. Abhay Pandit, and co-supervisors Dr. Wenxin Wang and Dr. Eilís Dowd. Thesis title was: “Gene Therapies for Parkinson's Disease: A Biomaterials Approach”

2013 - 2017 Awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship (Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship) through the School of Biosciences (Brain Repair Group - Prof. Anne Rosser as Mentor) where I worked predominantly at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research, Dresden.

In 2017 I joined the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as a Lecturer (teaching and research) where I am focussing on further developing biomaterials for applications in neuroscience research.

Honours and awards

2013 - 2017 Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

Our group is focused on developing a range of materials for a variety of applications in neuroscience research. We use a variety of polymerization techniques to create materials from monomers or pre-polymer building blocks. The shape, composition and attributes of the materials can be varied by use of various templating techniques, emulsions and/or microfluidic devices. A large emphasis of our work is to introduce pores into hydrogel networks via a process called cryogelation: freezing the solution prior to crosslinking the network so that ice crystals cause pore formation. This work invariably involves collaborating with other research groups who are experts in their field of neuroscience. The goals of some of our projects are described below, but we are always interested in the using or tailoring our materials to answer other biological questions. A large focus of our work has been on trying to improve the survival of dopamine cells following cell transplantation to the parkinsonian brain. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a loss of dopaminergic neurons, so successful replacement of these cells could potentially be one way to halt the progression of the disease. Unfortunately the majority of transplanted cells die during the grafting process, so we are developing microscale spherical cryogel scaffolds which we term microcarriers in order to investigate if pre-loading the cells to a supportive scaffold will improve their post-transplantation survival. A more recent research focus has been towards creating better ex-vivo brain slice models of multiple sclerosis. Current demyelination models via brain slice culture exhibit global demyelination (i.e. the entire brain slice is demyelinated). In contrast, the disease pathology typically shows areas or focal points of demyelination. We have synthesized scaffolds for a more focal delivery of detergents for creating focal demyelination in brain slice cultures in order to better mimic the disease pathology of multiple-sclerosis. Other research topics include creating microspheres for the delivery of anti-inflammatory cytokines to the brain and polymer nanotubes for local, sustained drug delivery of anti-cancer therapeutics.