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Harnessing inflammation to repair extracellular-matrix rich tissues

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr M Sherratt, Dr G Lopez-Castejon, Dr Christopher Platt  Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

Inflammation is thought to play a key role in mediating many aspects of both age and disease. The aberrant expression of tissue proteases is a hallmark of inflammation. We, and others, have previously shown that prior exposure of key extracellular matrix assemblies to ultraviolet radiation, enhances their susceptibility to digestion by members of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) family of proteases. Using human skin models (both biopsies and skin cell cultures), this PhD project seeks to develop new methods to enhance tissue repair by testing the hypothesis that extracellular proteases preferentially degrade damaged proteins and that this targeted activity is an important precursor to effective tissue repair. The student will become well versed in inflammation, protease and skin biology, 3D cell culture and bio-printing, the application of proteomic and transcriptomic technologies and the ethical and practical aspects of recruiting human volunteers in a clinical setting. The studentship is sponsored by Walgreens Boots Alliance and will be conducted in collaboration with colleagues in France and Germany. There will be opportunities for the student to visit European laboratories and learn the process of skin care product development within a large, multi-national commercial environment.

Entry Requirements:
Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in cell biology, physiology or biochemistry. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in skin biology/ageing is desirable.

Applications will close when a suitable candidate is found so please apply as soon as possible.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.On the application form select PhD Cell Matrix Research.

Funding Notes

Fully funded Studentship through Walgreens Boots Alliance. Studentship funding is for a duration of four years to commence in September 2019 or January 2020 and covers UK/EU tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend (£15,466 per annum 2019/20). Where international student fees are payable, please provide evidence within your application of how the shortfall will be covered (approximately £19,000 per annum).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Hibbert SA, Watson RE, Griffiths CE, Gibbs NK, Sherratt MJ . (2019) Selective proteolysis by matrix metalloproteinases of photo-oxidised dermal extracellular matrix proteins.

Eckersley A, Mellody KT, Pilkington S, Griffiths CEM, Watson REB, O’Cualain R, Baldock C, Knight D, Sherratt MJ. 2018. Structural and compositional diversity of fibrillin microfibrils in human tissues. J. Biol. Chem. 89:109-117.

Palazon-Riquelme P, Lopez-Castejon G. The inflammasomes, Immune guardians at defence barriers. Immunology. 2018 Nov;155(3):320-330

Naylor EC, Watson RE, Sherratt MJ (2011). Molecular aspects of skin ageing. Maturitas. 69:249-256.
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