Deadline: 2016-01-04
Value of Scholarship: Exeter
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD in Physics: The human vertebral endplate: its biomechanics and involvement in spinal disorders

Location:  Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Primary Supervisor:   Professor Peter Winlove

Secondary supervisor:  Dr Judith Meakin

Funding:  3-year studentship: Tuition fees (UK/EU) and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates

Degeneration of the intervertebral discs is implicated in many cases of persistent back pain.  The mechanisms responsible for the degeneration are unclear; however, primary changes in the endplates (between the discs and the vertebrae) may play an important role.  The aim of this project is therefore to explore the structure of the endplate and relate this to its physical and mechanical function in the spine.

A range of micro imaging (non-linear microscopy and micro CT) and microspectroscopy techniques will be used to determine the three-dimensional structure of the endplate and its interface with the discs and bone.  Structural measures will include the composition and organisation of the cartilage and bone tissue together with the location, type and viability of the endplate cells.  The permeability of the endplate (important for maintaining the nutritional health of the discs) and the micromechanics of the endplate (important for providing sufficient mechanical support) will then be assessed and related to the structural properties.

The project is a collaboration between two University research groups and two NHS specialist spine teams.  Strong research links already exist between these groups and although the PhD student will be primarily based in Exeter they will have the opportunity to spend time with the collaborators.

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Application Criteria

Applicants should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant medical, science or engineering subject. 

Postgraduate Research Office:

The closing date for applications is midnight on 4th January 2016

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