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The role of integrins in muscle stem cell function (MAYERU20DTP)

Project Description

Men and women lose 50% of their skeletal muscle mass in later life through a process called age-related sarcopenia, characterised by a combined loss of muscle mass, endurance and strength. This results in progressive loss in mobility eventually leading to frailty and loss of independence in old age. Because of the changing demographics in the UK, where the population aged 80 years and older is predicted to double over the next 20 years, there is a need to study mechanisms of age-related sarcopenia, which can lead to intervention strategies designed to reduce muscle loss. Satellite cells are the resident skeletal muscle stem cells and the main contributors to muscle repair, either after injury or in muscle wasting diseases. Satellite cells are quiescent myogenic stem cells, which become rapidly activated upon injury. The satellite cell pool and its proliferative capacity diminish with age, eventually leading to defective muscle maintenance and repair. Satellite cells are embedded in a specialised niche between the basement membrane and the plasma membrane of the muscle fibre. However, little is known what role this niche plays in regulating activation and self-renewal of SCs, or age-related alterations that may contribute to muscle loss.

We will use in vivo and in vitro experiments to define the role of two integrins, integrin α7 and α5, for satellite cell behaviour, as well as ex vivo single muscle fibre assays and investigate the cellular processes that are perturbed when these transmembrane receptors expressed by satellite cells are absent.

Project supervisor:
Project sponsor: Norwich Research Park Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership
Type of programme: PhD
Start date: 1 October 2020
Mode of study: Full-time
Studentship length: 4 years


- First degree (2:1 or above) in relevant subject
- English language (IELTS 6.5 overall, 6 in each section)


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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