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University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Developing a Tissue Engineered Musculoskeletal System

School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering

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Dr Nicholas Wragg No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The musculoskeletal junction (skeletal muscle-tendon-bone) is one of the most complex tissue interfaces within the body, with extension to the cartilage and ligament tissues. The bulk cellular nature of skeletal muscle transitions into the mostly material tendon before leading into attachment to the bone, all of which is accompanied by molecular and vascular changes which heavily influences the regenerative potential of the system. Material changes across these tissues, as well as their native interface structures, promote the transfer of force from the muscle contraction to the supportive skeletal components. Injuries in each of these tissues are common and healing is heavily influenced within each tissue by cross-communication.

3D tissue engineering represents an as yet under-developed area for development in drug-discovery and material toxicity testing, despite evidence to suggest greater relevance to human biological response than monolayer culture and, in some cases, animal models. Individually, skeletal muscle, tendon/ligament, bone and cartilage have each been tissue engineered using a variety of methods and cell types. However, none of these tissues exist individually within the body.

This project will focus on developing the tools and techniques needed to deliver a multi-tissue platform to aid drug-discovery and material investigations as well as to be used in furthering our understanding of musculoskeletal biology.

The ideal candidate with have a background in engineering or biology with strong multidisciplinary interests. The student must be educated to at least a bachelor’s level in Biology/Engineering/Physics/Chemistry with preferably at least a 2:1 classification with evidence of 1st class work. Students with additional experience, for example in the form of a master’s degree or a year industry, are very much encouraged to apply.


Wragg, N. M., Mosqueira, D., Blokpeol‐Ferreras, L., Capel, A., Player, D. J., Martin, N. R. W., Liu, Y., Lewis, M. P., Development of a 3D Tissue‐Engineered Skeletal Muscle and Bone Co‐culture System. Biotechnol. J. 2019, 15, 1900106.

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