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BBSRC SWBio DTP studentship: Elucidating the role of mechano-sensitive miRNAs in cartilage homeostasis: a multi-organism study

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, December 02, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This studentship will investigate the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating cell and tissue-dependent responses in synovial joints subjected to mechanical load. Using a range of state-of-the-art techniques and two model organisms (mouse and zebrafish), this proposal will apply a novel approach to mechanistically investigate the role of these mechanically-regulated miRNAs in cartilage chondrocyte homeostasis. A pivotal factor in maintenance of cartilage tissue homeostasis is mechanical load, effected by chondrocytes. Moderate ‘physiological’ loads, are essential to maintain cartilage homeostasis by promoting anabolic activities e.g. increased production of ECM molecules, whereas abnormal ‘non-physiological’ joint loading, characterised by either over-load or insufficient load, disrupts the homeostatic balance favouring catabolism and cartilage degeneration. Recent evidence demonstrates that mechanical forces can impact cellular responses, with a primary contributor being the miRNAs which control the post-transcriptional regulation of one third of all genes. Using in vitro and in vivo models of mechanical loading, we have previously identified a subset of miRNAs which are either (i) sensitive to mechanical forces or (ii) are regulated by abnormal loading only. Using this dataset, the project will validate these findings in the mouse loading model, prior to investigating their relevance in cartilage homeostasis using the zebrafish model; miRNA expression will be manipulated using mimics (overexpression) and inhibitors (knock down) and effects characterised in the presence or absence of mechanical load. This project will provide the student with an excellent cross-disciplinary skill set utilising techniques such as in vivo models, RNAseq, live cell imaging and finite element modelling, and will interface between Cardiff University and the University of Bristol providing a stimulating research environment for the studentship.


This studentship is available to UK and EU nationals who have established UK residency (EU nationals must have ordinarily lived in the UK throughout the three years preceding the start of the studentship). Please refer to the DTP eligibility webpage for more details:
Cardiff University will be able to award up to one fully funded four-year studentship for EU students who do not meet the residency requirements.

Entry requirements

Please refer to the DTP eligibility webpage for academic entry requirements:
If English is not your first language, you will need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.5 in all skills.

How to apply

Make your application to Cardiff University:
Please ensure that your application includes:
Two references. Neither of the referees should be part of the supervisory team.
Academic transcripts / degree certificate(s)
Personal statement. Please include supporting evidence for your Maths background.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
English language certificates (where applicable)
Please refer to the DTP webpage for information about the selection process:

Applications must be submitted by midnight on Monday 2nd December 2019.

Funding Notes

This studentship will provide a stipend for 4 years in line with UK Research and Innovation (Research Council) rates (£15,009 in 2019/20), payment of university tuition fees, and a Research and Training and Support Grant (RTSG) to support the project.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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