Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This is a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD studentship, to commence in February 2019 or October 2019. The project is supervised by Dr Susanne Dietrich.

Joint diseases have a serious impact on the quality of life of the elderly, and are on the increase in an ageing population. Frequently, the condition worsens when bony spurs form within the joint.

When cartilage and bone first form in the embryo, developing joints are kept bone-free. Likewise, in healthy joints, the space between the adjoining bones is kept free of hard tissues.

We have identified Dact proteins as novel players in joint formation and joint health. We believe Dact proteins are able to suppress unwanted bone formation, and they do so by simultaneously controlling several cell-cell communication pathways. On this project, you'll establish the biological and molecular function of Dact proteins in joints.

The work will include:


  • analysis of phenotypes through in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, skeletal preparations and by quantitative methods such as qPCR
  • designing and engineering molecular constructs to knock-down or to misexpress Dact genes
  • introducing these constructs into the developing joints of chicken embryos

You'll investigate the function of Dact proteins using the developing joints of a chicken embryo as a model. You'll engineer molecular constructs to misexpress Dacts, to knock down Dact function, and introduce constructs into the limbs prior to bone formation, using in-ovo electroporation. You'll then establish how bone formation may be affected.

On this project, we will collaborate with bioinformaticians to model regulatory cascades. This will help identify molecules and pathways that can be targeted by novel drugs for osteoarthritis.

The experimental and analytical skills developed during this project will prepare you for future work in academia or industry.

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.


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

2018/2019 entry

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,260 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,130 p/a*
International full-time students: £15,100 p/a*
International part-time students: £7,550 p/a*

By Publication Fees 2018/2019

Members of staff: £1,550 p/a*
External candidates: £4,260 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase.

How to apply

To start your application, or enquire further about the process involved, please contact Dr Susanne Dietrich (, quoting both the project code PHBM3571017 and the project title. For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

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

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