Background to research and synopsis

There are numerous orthopedic applications where the implantation of chondrocytes or their precursors could have therapeutic potential. These indications include articular cartilage defects and degenerative disc disease. Articular cartilage is a specialized tissue enabling almost frictionless movement of joints. Because it is avascular, endogenous cartilage repair is limited. In the UK, the costs associated with osteoarthritis exceed £3bn including treatment and indirect costs associated with care. In the US, $60bn is spent annually for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders involving cartilage.

We have, in collaboration with industry, developed procedures to differentiate human stem cells into very specifically defined chondrocyte precursors with demonstrable reparative activity in vivo. We now wish to develop our work in the area of cell carrier technology to potentially facilitate their delivery, retention and differentiation to cartilage. In addition, the ability to produce large numbers of the particular efficacious cell type in vitro and materials and conditions for ‘manufacture’ of the therapy will need to be investigated.

The student will work on stem cell bulk up and differentiation and investigate ways in which both ‘stemness’ and differentiated function can be enhanced using a range of naturally occurring and man-made substances/materials in various formats.
This is exciting ‘translational’ science on the cusp of medicines manufacture and the student will benefit from gaining a deep understanding of not only industry level research but also the regulatory considerations surrounding cell therapy development.


Informal enquiries: Prof Brendon Noble
E: [email protected]

Entry requirements

Candidates should normally have a minimum classification of 2.1 in their Bachelor Degree or equivalent and preferably a Masters degree. Applicants whose secondary level education has not been conducted in the medium of English should also demonstrate evidence of appropriate English language proficiency normally defined as IELTS: 6.5 (overall score with not less than 6.0 in any of the individual elements).

Read more about our entry requirements.

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Please follow this link to apply for the programme most appropriate to your research, please note that the programme appears as MPhil on UCAS, however there is an option on the form to request PhD via MPhil, which is the standard route:

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Interviews will be held in June/July 2019. The Studentship title is SLS10 Full Scholarship and Fee Waiver School of Life Sciences. Please include this in your application, you must also list the Project Code in order for us to allocate your application to the correct.