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Injectable hydrogels for cartilage repair

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Hazel Fermor, Dr R K Wilcox, Dr L Jennings  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The aim of this project is to develop a peptide/chondroitin sulfate-based hydrogel biomaterial which can be injected into damaged cartilage and restore tissue biomechanics. The ambition is that this new treatment will be offered to patients with very early-stage cartilage damage to repair the tissue, treat symptoms, and delay or prevent the onset of osteoarthritis long-term.  

In this project we will develop an in vitro animal tissue model of early cartilage damage using enzymatic methods to selectively deplete glycosaminoglycans. This disease model will be used in a natural joint simulator to replicate joint movement to assess friction and wear. We will use this model to collect pre-clinical evidence on the ability of the hydrogel to restore healthy tissue function. We will also investigate the best way to inject the biomaterial and understand the influence on tissue biology. 

You will develop skills and knowledge in tissue/joint biomechanical and tribological testing, tissue culture, histological techniques, micro-CT imaging, biochemical techniques and medical device design, innovation and translation. 

You will work within the multidisciplinary Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (, a leading global centre of excellence in medical and biological engineering. You will be part of a collaborative, friendly and supportive research group based in the School of Biomedical Sciences. 


Applicants should have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. A Masters degree is desirable but not essential.

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)

To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert
  • For source of funding please state you are applying for an EPSRC DTP Studentship

As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Within the Faculty of Biological Sciences we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+; and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability. 

For further information about this scholarship please contact the Faculty Admissions Team

e: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This studentship is competition funded, and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (2022/23 rate) for up to 3.5 years, subject to satisfactory academic progress. The award will also cover the academic fees at the UK fee rate. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants for this position who are eligible to pay academic fees at the UK fee rate.

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