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The effect of low-frequency and low-energy Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) on muscle cell precursors: new insights into cellular mechanisms and translational research applications.

Project Description

We are looking for a motivated graduate to join our award-nominated Biotechnology Unit Lab to work on an exciting project under the supervision of Dr Federica F. Masieri.

Muscle has a high susceptibility to injury and degeneration, posing a significant burden of muscle-related injuries on the NHS.

This study aims at exploring new avenues of biophysical stimuli applications onto muscle cells. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) with selected low-frequency and low-energy biophysical characteristics have been proven to effectively counteract inflammation in a variety of musculoskeletal models in vitro and in vivo, whilst promoting anabolic activities in bone, cartilage and tendon. Interestingly, PEMF has a role in supporting the in vitro differentiation of cells of the mesenchymal lineage, whilst counteracting the detrimental activity of a pro-inflammatory milieu. Recent evidence suggests that selected PEMF stimuli control the proliferation and modulate the release of myokines in myoblast cells grown in vitro.

This project aims at refining current protocols of application of PEMF in myoblast cells grown in vitro, to further elucidate the functional role of the biophysical stimulation in controlling an inflamed microenvironment and identify cellular targets and mechanisms of actions through which PEMF may exert its function. In the first phase of the project, the effect of PEMF will be tested on at least two cell models (muscle cell line and muscle primary cells). Subsequently, the evidence obtained will be used to define, in collaboration with our national and international partners, a quasi-vivo model of muscle cell grown on a suitable biosurface, mimicking as closely as possible the architecture of a muscle fibre, to test the effect of PEMF on a scaled-up model, with a possible direct translation of the evidence collected towards a clinical study.

Type of programme: PhD

Start date of project: October 2020

Mode of study: Full-time

Length of studentship: 3 year funded period

Location: Ipswich Campus

Entry requirements -
Acceptable first degree:
BSc (Hons) and/or MSc in the following areas: Bioscience, Biomedical Science, Bioengineering, Cell Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Sport and Exercise Science, and related disciplines.

At least 2:1 BSc and MSc title with at least Merit is the preferred combination. The candidate is expected to have some experience in eukaryotic cell culturing.

Funding Notes

The University of Suffolk are pleased to offer this project as a fee waiver scholarship. The cost of your PhD fees will be covered by the University, however living costs will need to be considered and accounted for by the candidate. Furthermore, this project is subject to securing further funding of around £45k for consumables.

UK/EU only.


i) Masieri et al. (2018 a) Orthopaedic Proceedings
ii) Masieri et al. (2018 b) Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
iii) Ongaro et al. (2015) J Tissue Eng Regen Med
iv) Ongaro et al. (2012) J Cell Physiol
v) De Mattei et al. (2009) Osteoarthritis and Cartilage

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