We are an interdisciplinary, collaborative research group based in the Department of Translational Health Sciences at the University of Bristol. We innovate new biotechnologies for controlling the assembly of complex living systems (cells, tissues, organoids). By recreating the structural complexity of natural systems, we are able to produce tissue grafts with improved function or cell models that can further our understanding of human development, physiology, and disease. Meet our team:
James is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Translational Health Sciences, and since 2023, co-founder of the University of Bristol spin-out company Impulsonics. His work has been supported by >£3.3M of funding, including three consecutive fellowship awards: an Arthritis Research UK Foundation Fellowship (2015-2018), an MRC/UKRI Innovation Rutherford Fund Fellowship (2018-2021), and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2018-2025). In 2019, he was awarded a President’s Medal for Excellence in Education recognizing his pastoral care in student supervision.
Aya holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Bath with her thesis focussing on the development of a highly sensitive multi-electrode array for the study of glioblastoma multiforme, breast cancer, and stem cell differentiation. Her work was funded by a Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship and, in 2020, she was selected as an Innovator Under 35 by MIT Technology Review MENA. She joined the Armstrong Group as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in June 2022 and is working on a project seeking to develop complex models of the human brain.
Farnaz received her PhD in Biomaterials from Azad University (Iran) in 2018. She held a postdoctoral position in Fudan University (China) from 2019 to 2021, followed by the award of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Career-FIT PLUS research fellowship and two prestigious fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The latter funded her research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany) and University College London-Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (UK). She joined the Armstrong Group in July 2023 and is now leading efforts to engineer complex tissues using 3D bioprinting.
Mina is currently a final-year PhD student at the University of Sheffield, working in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. During her PhD, she has focused on the development of poly (glycerol sebacate)-co-poly(ethylene glycol) biomaterials for biomedical applications and 3D printing. She has also been involved in a project creating a 3D human skin model mimicking the dermal-epidermal junction. In early 2024, Mina will join the Armstrong Group as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and will head up the development of innovative biomaterials for the biological integration of artificial muscles.
Heidi started her research career in the multiple sclerosis and stem cell group, University of Bristol, and received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Bristol in 2012. Since then, she has been involved in projects identifying maternal microchimera cells in the human brain, assessing the potential of mesenchymal stem cells as a therapy for multiple sclerosis and most recently testing novel therapeutic targets for focal segmental glomerulosis kidney disease. Heidi joined the Armstrong Group in January 2024 to support soft robotics and organoid engineering projects.
Martha received her BSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Sheffield in 2020, during which she specialized in neurobiology and received the neuroscience prize upon graduation. Following this, she worked as a research assistant in the Wade-Martins group at the University of Oxford, using iPSC and CRISPRi technologies to study mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease, funded by an industry collaboration with BMS Celgene. She joined as a PhD candidate in the Armstrong Group in February 2022, and is working to develop new strategies for brain organoid bioengineering.
Ximena received her BSc Hons in Genomic Biotechnology at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, México in 2018; during which she conducted research on the development of smart therapeutics to combat antimicrobial resistance. In 2019, she joined the Bristol Centre of Functional Nanomaterials on a PhD project co-funded by the Mexican Science and Technology Research Council (CONACYT), the University of Bristol, and Cytoseek Ltd. Her primary supervisor is Prof. Adam Perriman and her project focuses on the generation of 3D bioprinted tumour models for the evaluation of novel immunotherapy approaches.
Sammy graduated in 2020 from the University of Sussex with a BSc in Computer Science, specialising in artificial intelligence and specifically reinforcement learning. In 2021, he graduated with an MSc in Artificial Intelligence from King’s College London, with a dissertation using Gaussian processes to predict a diagnosis of sepsis in intensive care units. He then joined the University of Bristol in September as a UKRI Digital Health and Care CDT student. He started his project in the Armstrong Group in June 2022, and is developing a machine learning pipeline for improving automation in the biomedical sciences.
Zhipeng graduated in 2022 from Imperial College London with a MEng in Materials Science and Engineering. For her master’s research project, she worked to develop chitosan-based scaffolds for applications in wound healing. In this time, she gained experience in techniques such as biomaterials characterisation and electrospinning. Zhipeng joined the Armstrong Group in October 2022 as a PhD student through the Chinese Scholarship Council – University of Bristol scheme. She is working in collaboration with local clinicians to develop a new class of regenerative biomaterials for wound healing applications.
Norah-Jane holds a BSc. in Pharmacology from University College Dublin and a dual International Master’s Degree in Innovative Medicine from the University of Groningen and Uppsala University. She conducted her Master’s thesis project in the Ingber Lab at the Wyss Institute, Harvard University, where she focused on novel target discovery at the blood-brain barrier. She joined the Armstrong Group as a PhD candidate in October 2022, and is working to assemble an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier using advanced bioprinting technologies, a collaborative project with Dr Liliang Ouyang at Tsinghua University, Beijing.
Oliver graduated from the University of Warwick with a BSc in Psychology in 2020 before completing an MSc in Neuroscience specializing in Neurodegeneration at King’s College London in 2021. He then carried out in vitro cell culture research at pharmaceutical CRO Horizon Discovery before joining the University of Bristol as a PhD candidate in October 2022. Oliver’s PhD, which is primarily supervised by Dr. Scott Miners, is focused on researching and developing in vitro models to better understand the effect of neuroinflammation on the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier in dementia.
Yi Huang received his BEng in 2019 from Nanchang Hangkong University, in which his major was Flight Vehicle Manufacture Engineering. Then he graduated from Xiamen University with an MEng in Aeronautical Engineering in June 2022. During this period, he gained experience in 3D printing of glass, coating, and electrochemical machining. He joined the University of Bristol in August 2023 on a Chinese Scholarship Council PhD studentship. His primary supervisors are Dr. Giovanni Biglino and Dr. Fengyuan Liu and his project will involve the 3D/4D printing technology of bioresorbable coronary stents.
Sri completed her undergraduate medical degree in 2010 from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, India, and joined Specialist Gynaecology training in 2016. As a part of her clinical training, she completed her postgraduate qualification in 2021. She has special interest in gynaeoncology and undertook training in clinical aspects of ovarian cancer management in the East of England. Sri joined the Armstrong group as PhD student in February 2024 on a project testing chemotherapy drugs on patient-derived ovarian cancer organoids.
Elliot graduated in 2023 from the University of Edinburgh with a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy and Development. During his dissertation project, he investigated the use of 3D printing to replicate the bone-tendon enthesis. In September 2023, Elliot joined the Armstrong Group as an MRes in Health Sciences student. He is currently working with Dr Camila Tovani to generate gradient hydrogels that are capable of recreating the zonal mechanical properties of articular cartilage.
Olivia is a third-year undergraduate student studying biomedical sciences at Cardiff University and developed an interest in tissue engineering and biomaterials through her studies. She joined the Armstrong group in September 2023 for a 10-month research placement as part of her degree to gain experience both in the lab and in an academic research environment. She is currently working with Dr Camila Tovani to develop injectable hydrogels for non-union bone fracture repair.
Office 2.08, Dorothy Hodgkin Building, Whitson Street, Bristol, BS1 3NY