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Protecting tendon cells from inflammation to improve tendon regeneration

Project Description

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are leading research institutes with the prime purpose of improving animal welfare through veterinary research, together with advanced clinical and educational commitment. They are internationally recognised as centres of scientific excellence for veterinary research and their state-of-the-art laboratories offer a challenging and rewarding environment in which to work.

We are currently seeking a PhD student for a collaborative project carried out under the supervision of Dr Debbie Guest (AHT, Stem Cell Research) and Dr Jay Dudhia (RVC, Tendon Biology group). This is a prestigious PhD Scholarship funded by Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). While it is expected that the major proportion of the project will be at the AHT, a significant amount of time will also be spent at the RVC on the project aim as well as interactions with other on-going tendon and stem cell research as part of the training programme. The programme provides a breadth of professional development and training opportunities.

Tendon injuries occur commonly in horses and repair via scar tissue formation which leads to high rates of re-injury. Methods to improve tissue regeneration to reduce re-injury rates are therefore required. Tendon injuries evoke an inflammatory response and we have demonstrated that this has negative effects on adult tendon cell function. In contrast, we have recently shown that tendon cells derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are protected from these inflammatory signals.

In this PhD project the student will determine the mechanisms by which ESC-derived tendon cells are protected from inflammation to identify novel methods to protect adult tendon cells from the adverse consequences of inflammation during a tendon injury. They will further determine if mesenchymal stem cells which are currently used clinically are able to protect adult tendon cells from inflammatory signals.


Essential: UK and EEA students who have, or are expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in relevant biological subjects or veterinary medicine.

Candidates must wish to pursue a research career in the equine field, with particular reference to the racing, breeding or rearing of the Thoroughbred horse, in Britain at the end of the Scholarship.

Desirable: Although not necessary, previous laboratory based experience would be useful, such as undergraduate project work or work experience placements.

Funding Notes

This is a four year fully funded studentship funded by HBLB. It is open to Home/EU applicants only.

The studentship will commence on 1st October 2019.


1. Paterson, Y., Rash, N., Garvican, E., Paillot, R. & Guest, D. J. Equine mesenchymal stromal cells and embryo-derived stem cells are immune privileged in vitro. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;5(4):90.

2. Barsby, T., Bavin, E. P. & Guest, D. J. Three-Dimensional Culture and Transforming Growth Factor Beta3 Synergistically Promote Tenogenic Differentiation of Equine Embryo-Derived Stem Cells. Tissue Eng Part A. 2014 Oct;20(19-20):2604-13.

3. Gupta, S. C., Sundaram, C., Reuter, S. & Aggarwal, B. B. Inhibiting NF-kappaB activation by small molecules as a therapeutic strategy. Biochimica et biophysica acta 2010 1799, 775-787,.2010.05.004.

4. McClellan A, Evans R, Sze C, Kan S, Paterson Y, Guest D. A novel mechanism for the protection of embryonic stem cell derived tenocytes from inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1 beta. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):2755.

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