phd eoin white
Tuesday, July 12, 2022

PhD Student in Design/Engineering to Develop an Embryo Culture System

Title: Towards the development of a next generation, biomimetic embryo culture and diagnostics system for assisted human reproduction (embryoFlow)

About the Project: One in six couples worldwide have problems conceiving and many of these will undergo fertility treatment. Within fertility clinics two out of three cycles fail due in-part to inadequate in vitro embryo culture conditions, whereby embryos are cultured in static droplets (in their own waste products) under mineral oil (to prevent evaporation) for five days. This contrasts to a delicate changing milieu in vivo whereby, the developing embryo moves down the fallopian tube and into the uterus in the first few days after fertilisation. Therefore, the aim of this innovative and exciting project is to apply design thinking to design, develop and test a state-of-the-art in vitro biomimicry embryo culture prototype system to maximise the chance for a successful treatment outcome for couples undergoing fertility treatment.

The embryoFlow system will be built on a microfluidics platform (already developed for sperm selection) which will allow embryos to be cultured individually in microdroplets with the media changed regularly without disturbing the embryo. This embryo secretome in the spent culture media can be used in diagnostics to determine the molecular signature of the embryo. When combined with time-lapse imaging this will inform the embryologist and couple on which embryo will give the best chance of a successful pregnancy.

Team: This is an exciting opportunity to join a multidisciplinary team at the University of Limerick.

  • Dr Eoin White is a Lecturer in Design for Health & Wellbeing within the School of Design and his research focuses on medical device development, design validation, human factors and regulatory considerations.
  • Professor Sean Fair is a Principal Investigator within the Biomaterials Research Cluster, Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick. He leads a large well-funded internationally focused research team in Reproductive Biology which is focused on using in vitro and in vivo animal models to understand how gametes interact with the female reproductive tract. The successful candidate will be primarily based in the School of Design but will work with Professor Fair’s research group as well as other academic and industry partners.

Skills & Qualifications

  • Minimum of a BSc (Hons level 8) in a Design Engineering or related discipline
  • Experience of design research methodology and application, or similar
  • Qualitative research methodology experience, including data collection and analysis
  • Experience with CAD software and prototyping processes such as CNC machining, 3D printing and hand-finishing
  • Enthusiastic individual with motivation to work on own and as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Full clean driving licence and own car an advantage

Funding is available to support a PhD researcher over a four-year period, encompassing annual EU registration fees (for four years) and a tax-free stipend of €16,000 per annum. The successful candidate will register for a structured PhD at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and must apply for an Irish Research Council PhD scholarship within the first two years.

Informal inquiries and application process Informal inquires via email to Dr Eoin White ( or Prof Sean Fair (

Please send a CV, a cover letter, and a copy of university transcripts to by 22 August 2022. Application Submission: Please note that only short-listed candidates will be informed regarding their application status.