Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Marta Roldo and Professor Gordon Blunn.


The work on this project will:

  • Focus on the development of novel composite scaffolds.
  • Provide the candidate with opportunities to develop skills in hydrogels formulation, cell biology and physicochemical characterisation.
  • Explore biomaterials biocompatibility.
  • Offer the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary team.


Osteochondral lesions span both bone and cartilage tissues, they are painful, and predispose to osteoarthritis (OA), unquestionably one of the most important chronic health issues in humans. Severe limitations of current treatments have inspired research into more effective tissue engineering strategies, where the implanted stem cells must be able to differentiate both into cartilage and bone cells. The differentiation of cells can be tuned by varying the mechanical properties within the implant; however, there are no current scaffold materials that allow this concurrent double differentiation. We therefore propose to use composite materials to engineer complex structures of selected stiffness and porosity. These will be used to study how architectural and mechanical properties of the scaffold guide cells differentiation into the two types of cells desired. This study will lead to a deeper understanding of the relationship between scaffold architecture and cells fate allowing us to design novel scaffolds able to induce regeneration of physiologically functional tissues at the cartilage/bone interface. Scaffolds with a gradient of stiffnesses and different porosities will be manufactured and seeded with stem cells and the differentiation of these cells will be quantified.  

We aim to address the following questions: How does the design composite scaffolds influence the differentiation of mesenchymal/skeletal stem cells? And can we harness this knowledge to build an effective tissue engineering scaffold for the repair of osteochondral defects across the length scales?


Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Bench fees of £8,000 p/a also apply for this particular project. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in biomedical sciences, immunology, microbiology or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Marta Roldo  ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. 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. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code:PHBM5301024