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Karl's research team have world-leading knowledge and expertise in the formulation, testing and manufacture of controlled release implantable drug delivery devices, particularly vaginal rings for HIV prevention and contraception.

Current project sponsors include: The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), World Health Organization (WHO); Wellcome Trust; Medical Research Council (MRC); The Population Council; and various pharmaceutical and polymer supply companies.

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Open to applications for postgraduate research from suitably-qualified applicants who meet the University's English language requirements, who have secured a source of funding, and who wish to pursue a research project in a relevant research topic. 

  • modified release drug delivery systems
  • sustained and controlled release
  • vaginal drug delivery
  • vaginal ring technology
  • polymeric drug delivery devices
  • injection molding and extrusion technologies
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • HIV microbicides
  • antiretrovirals for HIV prevention
  • multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs)
  • mucosal vaccination
  • silicone elastomers
  • polyurethanes
  • ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers
  • in vitro release testing of drug dosage forms
  • protein drug delivery
  • long-acting contraceptives
  • long-acting injectables
  • 3D-printing of drug delivery systems
  • bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • estrogen replacement therapy
  • cervical ripening
  • induction of labour
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PUBLIC OUTREACH and key achievements

Karl's research group has worked closely with The International Partnership for Microbicides to help develop the first vaginal ring offering sustained release of the antiretroviral microbicide dapivirine for prevention of sexual transmission of HIV. The dapivirine ring has recently completed Phase III clinical testing, and subject to review by regulatory bodies, will likely be available to users in 2018. Second generation ring devices for HIV prevention and contraception are currently in early state clinical testing.


Research students

PhD Title: Preclinical Development of Simple and Inexpensive Depot Injectable Formulations for Combination Contraception and HIV Prevention

Name: Clement Haeck
Years of Study: 2014-2017
Country: France

PhD Title: Modular multipurpose prevention technology device for vaginal administration of multiple therapeutic agents

Name: Vicky-Leigh Young
Years of Study: 2017-2020
Country: Northern Ireland


Alumni: where are they now?

Dr Claire Forbes

PhD Title: Silicone elastomer gels for vaginal delivery of antiretroviral microbicides

Years of Study: 2009–2012
Country: UK
Current position: Principal Scientist at Pfizer

Dr Susan Fetherston

PhD Title: Novel Sustained Release Devices for Vaginal Drug Administration

Years of Study: 2008–2010
Country: UK
Current position: Development Engineer at QPharma

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