Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This is a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD studentship. This project is supervised by Dr Susanne Dietrich.

Skeletal muscle allows us to move and live an independent life style. Muscle can regenerate from in-built muscle stem cells, and most of the time, is a trouble-free organ. But in muscle disease such as muscular dystrophies -- or when large portions of muscle are lost in an accident -- regeneration fails.

Current research aims to use the existing adult muscle stem cell in a patient to regenerate the lost muscle. However, adult muscle stem cells have properties that prevent their use. Specifically, the cells prefer a quiescent state and do not grow well in culture. Therefore, new approaches are needed.

Adult muscle stem cells are derived from embryonic muscle stem cells, and these cells are very active cells. That means they're able to deliver large muscle masses and adult muscle stem cells in a short period of time.

On this project, you'll study the properties of embryonic muscle stem cells, in order to establish whether cells considered for therapy should be engineered to become more 'embryo-like'.

The work will include:

  • a variety of approaches to cell, molecular and developmental biology, including construct design, in ovo electroporation, in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, RNAseq experiments and bioinformatics.
  • access to a skills development program run by our Graduate School.

Muscle and muscle stem cell development is the same in mammals and birds, but only bird embryos and their muscle stem cells are directly accessible in the egg.

Using the chicken embryo in the egg as a model, you'll challenge embryonic muscle stem cells with a variety of molecular constructs to explore how well their stem cell state is protected. You'll perform RNAseq and ChIP experiments to establish the molecular signature of the embryonic muscle stem cells, and test the function of genes that may control the specific properties of these cells

The experimental and analytical skills that you'll develop on this project will prepare you for a future career in academia or industry.


PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan.

Entry requirements

A good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject.

Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. All applicants are subject to interview.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

To start your application, or enquire further about the process involved, please contact Dr Susanne Dietrich (, quoting both the project code (PHBM3551017) and the project title. 

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.

You can also visit our How to Apply pages to get a better understanding of how the PhD application process works.

Interview date: Subject to arrangement

October start

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February start

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