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PhD Studentship- Project Title: The Importance of Muscle Stem Cells: Implications for Muscle Repair in Inflammation and Trauma


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Tuesday 30 April 2024
Reference:  MED1997

Skeletal muscle possesses a remarkable capacity for adaptation and repair, processes essential in the maintenance of skeletal muscle health. The ability of skeletal muscle to respond to stimuli such as exercise, injury and trauma, is in part, due to muscle resident stem (satellite) cells (MuSC). The interaction of MuSC with adjacent structures and other cell types, in addition to their exposure to various inflammatory cytokines and growth factors all influence how MuSC behave and respond to different stimuli, like exercise, trauma and injury.

Recent evidence indicates a reduction in the number of MuSC during the menopause transition, which characterised by a sudden decrease in oestrogen production. Importantly, it has also been shown that oestrogen receptors are present on MuSC’s suggesting that the presence/absence of oestrogen can impact MuSC function and thus, the muscle repair process. 

However, current understanding of oestrogen’s role in muscle repair is limited. Furthermore, the menopause is associated with accelerated muscle mass loss and could potentially impair muscle repair and maintenance in older women, especially post- surgery where local and systemic inflammation is evident.

This PhD studentship has two main objectives. 

  1. The student will determine if oestrogen levels impact the MuSC response to acute eccentric exercise in pre- and post-menopausal (naturally occurring model of oestrogen deficiency) women similar in age.
  2. The student will also determine if sex differences of various skeletal muscle fibre characteristics (e.g., size, distribution, MuSC content etc) exist between older men and women at the time of hip surgery and, following a strength-based exercise rehabilitation programme with and without supplementation of an anabolic androgen.

The project offers the opportunity for the student to develop skills in delivery of human volunteer studies, working with healthy volunteers and patient populations, and to be part of a multidisciplinary research team. The candidate will also be trained in a variety of analytical methods, including immunofluorescence microscopy, real-time qPCR, and western blotting.

The student will work within a well-funded and vibrant research environment in the David Greenfield Human Physiology Unit, the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre ( and the Southampton Biomedical Research Centre ( (

The student will also interreact with a variety of fundamental, translational, and industry-led projects, as well as interacting with various partner.

The supervisory team and project will produce a highly skilled, muscle physiologist that is acutely required to meet the demands of academia and biomedical musculoskeletal focused research. 

Funding notes:

This studentship is being supported by the Nottingham NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and the School of Life Sciences of the University of Nottingham. The three-year PhD studentship covers home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.


Dr Sophie Joanisse (Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology, School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham)

Prof Paul Greenhaff (Professor of Muscle Metabolism, School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham) 

Dr Joanne Mallinson (Senior Research Technician, School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham)

Dr Colleen Deane (Lecturer in Muscle Cell Biology, School of Human Development and Health, University of Southampton)


Informal inquiries can be made to: and

Due to funding requirements, only applications from domestic students will be accepted.

Application Details: To apply for this PhD opportunity, please submit the following documents to stating the studentship you are applying for.

· Cover Letter outlining your research interests and motivation to pursue this project.

· Curriculum Vitae detailing your academic background, research experience and relevant skills.

 Entry Requirements:

Applicants should have a strong background in human physiology and have a commitment to research of skeletal muscle and MuSC biology. Applicants should hold or expect to obtain at  least an Upper Second Class (2.1) Honours degree in a relevant subject. A relevant Master’s degree would be an advantage but is not essential. 

Start Date:

October 2024


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