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Using novel materials to engineer an artifical bone-tendon replacement

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, April 24, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is one of 16 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland ( to be delivered jointly by the named University and External Partner Organisation (EPO). The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and additional training provided by the EPO needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Old Problem, New Trix: Using collagen sponges to engineer bespoke bone-tendon constructs in vitro" to be delivered by the University of Edinburgh [Supervisors: Dr Jennifer Paxton (Deanery of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh), Miss Philippa Rust (Deanery of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh ad NHS) and Dr Yuhang Chen (School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University)] and Jellagen Ltd ( [EPO Supervisor: Professor Andrew Mearns Spragg].

The normal anatomical structure of the enthesis, the interface between tendon and bone, is very well structured and plays a crucial role in stress reduction between tissues. The enthesis is a difficult structure to repair following injury/disease, as after insult, a weak, unorganised scar tissue forms, making it susceptible to further damage. This lack of structural recapitulation makes the orthopaedic repair of bone-tendon/ligament healing a significant clinical challenge.

To provide a potential surgical solution, this project will use tissue engineering techniques and novel biomaterials to create a bone-tendon construct, and therefore artficial enthesis, in the laboratory. We will investigate novel collagen sponge biomaterials, provided by Jellagen Ltd. as a suitable niche for bone cell culture, and use these in combination with a tissue engineered tendon model. The project will include 2D and 3D cell culture, mechanical evaluation and cellular and molecular investigations to achieve the following objectives;

Objective 1) Use novel 3D collagen sponges as artificial bone anchors for use in a 3D co-culture environment.
Objective 2) Establish co-culture using artificial bone anchors and a 3D tendon model, to produce a 3D bone-tendon co-culture in vitro.
Objective 3) Assess the fibrocartilaginous interface production in the bone-tendon co-cultures

This is an excellent opportunity to join an exciting collaborative project with direct links to industry. The successful student will also spend time at the industrial location and learn other transferrable skills such as marketing and business development (commercial) based on discrete projects within those departments.

Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Jennifer Paxton:

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in a biomedical ot bioengineering-related subject.

Applicants should send a CV, the contact details of 2 references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Dr Jennifer Paxton:

Please note, your application may be shared with the funders of this PhD Studentship, Medical Research Scotland and Jellagen Ltd.

Interviews are expected to take place 3-4 weeks after the closing date for applications. In light of the current coronavirus situation, interviews will be conducted by video conference.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in October 2020.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £17,500, increasing to £18,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and generous travel allowance. International fees are not covered.


How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

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