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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London
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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Nanoscale damage markers for early osteoarthritis detection in the bone-cartilage unit

Supervisors: Himadri GUPTA

Application Deadline: 31-01-2019

Project Details
Musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis (OA) increase pain and reduce quality of life for millions of people worldwide, with 8 million people seeking treatment in the UK and hospital expenditures over $40 billion in the US alone.
As a progressive degenerative condition, it is critical to detect and treat OA early, but there are currently few reliable biomarkers. Though it is known that joint injury can lead to OA-development, it is unclear how this causes early tissue structural damage to develop at the nano- and microscale in the bone-cartilage unit – and lead to OA.
This project will discover the key damage and deformation processes initiated at the nanoscale in the tissue matrix of the bone-cartilage unit during injurious mechanical loading, and the dose-response thresholds at which nanoscale damage occurs. Using a destabilized meniscal model of osteoarthritis developed by collaborators at the ARUK-Kennedy Centre (Oxford), the project will analyse the load-induced structural changes in diarthroidal joints using high-resolution X-ray tomography (CT), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and cryo scanning-electron microscopy. We will develop a micro-compression rig for physiological loading of mouse bone which will be integrated into CT- and SAXS setups. By multiscale analyses of strain-concentrations in progressively-loaded joints, we will detect the presence of nanoscale structural damage and correlate it to initiation of OA. We will use state-of-the-art imaging and analysis techniques at Diamond Synchrotron (Harwell) and at our collaborators at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Potsdam).
This PhD project will discover novel nanoscale damage signatures of OA, which – via multiscale correlative imaging – could potentially be detected clinically.

EPSRC Research Studentship Details

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) applicants must have: 

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to October 2019. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (This does not apply to UK nationals).

(See: for more details)

  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in September/October 2019
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £16,777 in 2018/19).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).

Supervisor Contact Details
For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr. Himadri S. Gupta (or Prof. Martin M. Knight)
Tel: 020 7882 8867 or 020 7882 8868
E-mail: or

Application Method:
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Medical Engineering programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2019 SEMS EPSRC HSG’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.