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Uncovering the secreted secrets of adipose tissues to engineer novel cell free therapies for scar regeneration.

   Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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  Dr V Hearnden  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Fat grafting, where adipose tissue is injected beneath the skin, has been shown by plastic surgeons to improve scar appearance and improve skin quality. This clinical observation demonstrates the potential adipose tissue has however there is currently a gap in our scientific understanding of how adipose tissue exerts these positive effects.

The aim of this project is to determine which secreted factors from adipose tissue are responsible for the clinical effects observed to:

(i) understand the biological mechanism and

(ii) to use this knowledge to engineer novel, bioinspired treatment strategies for scared and damaged skin.

This project builds on findings from the Hearnden research group ( which have shown secreted factors from human adipose tissue can reduce scar cell formation and can reduce skin contraction (a life-altering complication of severe skin damage). Data from these lab models has demonstrated that adipose tissues secrete a panel of functional proteins and this project, co-supervised by Professor Craig Murdoch (, will further investigate the mechanism of action of how fat grafting alters scar tissues.

This project is of critical importance to improve patient care, as a better understanding of the mechanisms involved will support the development of better treatments for patients and we aim to use these findings to engineer novel treatment strategies for scar regeneration which are inspired by adipose tissues and which can be used in applications where fat grafting is not possible.

This project will deliver extensive training in cell culture, tissue engineering and clinical translation to generate biological evidence which is of interest to scientists and the clinical community alike. This will be combined with training in the use of human tissues and advanced analytical techniques. You will work alongside biologists, engineers and clinicians in a diverse, multi-disciplinary team to benefit from a range of expertise to deliver this project.

Applications can be made using the information on this page:

Funding Notes

This studentship will pay Home tuition fees and a stipend for living expenses for 3.5 years at the RCUK rate.
Students with overseas fees status can apply, but if accepted, they will need to successfully apply for a further scholarship.
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