President's Doctoral Scholar Award

Natalie Cureton

Research Degree: PhD Institute of Human Development – Maternal and Fetal Health

Thesis Title: Development of nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery to the placenta

Scope of research:

The research project will involve design and synthesis of novel lipid-based nanocarriers e.g. liposomes, micelles, which display placental “homing peptides” on their surface. Ultimately, these particles will be used to deliver growth factors directly to the placenta, forming the basis of a targeted drug delivery system suitable for use in pregnancy.

Brief personal biography

From a young age I have been interested in research and after choosing to study Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics at A-Level I went on to Liverpool John Moores University to study for BSc Hons Industrial Pharmaceutical Science. After achieving a First Class I gained a place as a PhD student at Manchester and hope to have a career in research in the future.

Academic background

  • St Edwards College – A-Levels Biology (C), Chemistry (B), Mathematics (B)
  • Liverpool John Moores University – BSc Hons Industrial Pharmaceutical Science (First Class)

Academic achievements / prizes

  • 2012 Academic Excellence Award for highest award mark in graduating cohort
  • SCI prize for Best Final Year Applied Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science (ACAPS) Student in Pharmaceutical Studies

Your research interests

  • Targeted drug delivery to specific vascular sites
  • Development of nanoparticles for use in tissue targeting
  • Photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy and the development of novel compounds for this technique


1) Why did you choose to do your research at the University of Manchester?

After doing much research into different institutes around the country The University of Manchester stood out to me when choosing where I would like to do my research. Manchester stood out as it had excellent research pedigree, gaining funding and support from a number of sources each year and also providing students who went on to be successful in their relative fields. The introduction of the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Scheme also influenced my decision to choose to research at Manchester as it provided me with more opportunities to gain training that will help me to stand out when moving on into a career after my PhD.

2) How do you feel about being selected as one of the President’s Doctoral Scholars?

It is a great honour to be selected as one of the President’s Doctoral Scholars and I was very pleased when I discovered that I had been given this award. Knowing that only 3% of postgraduate students were selected to receive the PDS award made it an even greater honour and knowing that as a PDS award holder I am deemed to be in the highest class of students makes me more driven to be successful in my research. The opportunities open to me as a PDS award holder, such as the opportunity to participate in transferable skills training programmes, makes me appreciate this award even more as I know that it will allow me to further myself both in my PhD studies and in my future career.

3) What are your career aspirations after completing your PhD?

It has always been an aspiration of mine to have a career based in medical research as I have always wanted to make an impact on the quality of human life. For me the idea of being a researcher is something that always appealed to me as it allows me to potentially positively affect the lives of many people with just one research development. Whether I have a career based in academia or industry remains open, but carrying out research in an area that I have a passion towards is something that is very important to me.

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