Developing co-culture systems to enable the modelling of interactions between cells of the synovial joint


Synovial joints such as the knees and hips can be considered as multi tissue organs and crosstalk between the tissue types contributes strongly to the maintenance of their effective mechanical function. Diseases within these joints are strongly associated with old age. Most prevalent is osteoarthritis which has an enormous personal and socioeconomic impact due to the pain and immobility that it causes. Research into the causes of osteoarthritis has typically been focussed on the articular cartilage within the joints, which is badly eroded as the disease progresses. However, it is becoming apparent that tissues such as the synovium, which lines the inside of the joint cavity, also undergo pathological changes.

This project aims to generate a cell culture-based model system to examine interactions between cells from different tissues within the joint. It is hypothesised that immune cells resident in the synovium would be able to potentiate signalling within such as system. This project will determine if this is indeed the case and will examine how cellular signalling is affected by crosstalk between the cell types.

Training will be provided in a range of cell culture techniques, including cell isolation, cell labelling and a diverse set of cellular co-culture. Further training in a full suite of techniques to analyse cell function (including protein analysis and gene expression studies) will form a key part of the study. The project would suit a candidate who has an interest in the musculoskeletal system, orthopaedics, rheumatology and/or chronic diseases related to ageing.

The Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasize the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.  

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent). Candidates whose first language is not English should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above.  

To apply for this opportunity, please click here.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

There is NO funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, living expenses, and research costs of £10,000 per year. Details of costs can be found on the University website.



Morgan RE, Clegg PD, Hunt JA, Innes JF & Tew SR (2018) “Interaction with macrophages attenuates equine fibroblast-like synoviocyte ADAMTS5 (aggrecanase-2) gene expression following inflammatory stimulation” J Orthop Res in press DOI: 10.1002/jor.23891


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