PhD Research Studentship: Using an in vitro, bioengineered model of skeletal muscle to investigate exercise-related treatment modalities for OA

Applications are invited for the above studentship commencing October 2013.

This is an exciting opportunity to work within the newly formed ARUK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis (OA). This Centre is a unique collaboration of 7 Universities (Nottingham, Oxford, Loughborough, Leeds, Bath, Southampton and UCL) as well as Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust working towards a better understanding of the mechanisms relating sport, exercise, injury and OA. The investigating multi disciplinary team includes specialists in orthopaedics, rheumatology, sport and exercise medicine, physiotherapy, podiatry, epidemiology, occupational therapy, nutrition, sports science, skeletal muscle biology, bone and cartilage biology, psychology, physiology and biomechanics.

The Lewis group has developed tissue engineered skeletal muscle constructs that can be used to study normal and pathophysiology. These constructs resemble in vivo skeletal muscle anatomically and transcriptionally and can be stimulated by a variety of means to simulate exercise. There will be two main strategies: (i) Can the “OA” skeletal muscle phenotype be recreated in vitro? Using primary human skeletal muscle cells from normal donors, the project will start to identify the appropriate cytokine and growth factor cocktail to simulate the inflammatory mileu seen in OA. Success will initially be determined by transcriptional analysis. How this phenotype can then be alleviated by exercise will be examined by stimulation of the constructs. (ii) Do skeletal muscle cells derived from OA animals maintain their phenotype? This project will utilise skeletal muscle derived from animal models of OA and characterised. Once characterised, these cells can be introduced into the same models as above and the effect of exercise (stimulation) on the phenotype will be examined.

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Applicants should have a good first degree in Biosciences e.g. Sports Science (with a large component of natural sciences), Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Physiology, Human Biology, Biomedical Sciences or related disciplines. Previous relevant laboratory experience would be advantageous. In addition, applicants should have excellent oral and written communication skills, as well as confidence in research methods.

The studentship provides a stipend of £13,726 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to three years.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to Professor Mark P Lewis (

Information about the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and details about the application process can be found by clicking the Apply link below.

The closing date for applications is Monday 1st July 2013.

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