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Investigating a new paradigm for the regulation of bone function and energy metabolism

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  • Full or part time
    Dr V MacRae
    Prof C Farquharson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Insulin is a major controller of energy utilisation. The maintenance of the skeleton has a high energetic cost, and the skeleton coordinates whole body energy utilisation through its hormonal interactions with other tissues (1). This PhD project will investigate the actions of a molecule involved in regulating bone function called Ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase-1 (NPP1) (2) in controlling the body’s response body to the normal actions of insulin (3).

First, the project will investigate mice with the gene for NPP1 removed specifically in osteoblasts. This will reveal how vital NPP1 in osteoblasts is for bone function, the regulation of insulin and the accumulation of fat tissue. Subsequent studies will examine whether NPP1 in osteoblasts promotes the development of obesity and insulin resistance. This will be done by giving the transgenic mice a "MacDonalds" high fat diet and studying their weight gain, responses to insulin and bone biology. Together, these studies will establish whether NPP1 is a key modulator of the skeleton’s ability to regulate energy usage.

Training: Training will be received throughout the studentship, much of it through practical application of research techniques, analytical methods and study skills. Skills that will be acquired include cell and molecular biology techniques, microscopy, cell culture and in vivo techniques. Students are also encouraged to attend monthly Research Workshops dedicated to student and post-doctoral presentations and the yearly student poster session. The University of Edinburgh’s transferable skills programme will also be available to the student, with courses including commercialisation, research management, communication skills, networking and team working.

Anticipated outputs: The student will be encouraged to present their work at International and European scientific conferences. Past students of the supervisors’ have typically published at least 3 scientific papers during their studentships, and have subsequently secured high profile post-doctoral research positions in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia.

Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be sent to: Liz Archibald, The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG or emailed to [Email Address Removed].

When applying for the studentship please state clearly the title of the studentship and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.

All applicants should also apply through the University’s on-line application system for September 2016 entry via

International students should also apply for an Edinburgh Global Research Studentship (



Oldknow KJ, MacRae VE, Farquharson C. 2011 Endocrine role of bone: recent and emerging perspectives beyond osteocalcin. J Endocrinol. 2015 225:R1-19

Mackenzie NC, Huesa C, Rutsch F, MacRae VE 2012 New insights into NPP1 function: Lessons from clinical and animal studies. Bone 51: 961-68.

Huesa C, Zhu D, Glover JD, Ferron M, Karsenty G, Milne EM, Millan JL, Ahmed SF, Farquharson C, Morton NM, MacRae VE 2014 Deficiency of the bone mineralization inhibitor NPP1 protects against obesity and diabetes. Dis Mod Mech 7: 1341-50.

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