Towards a bespoke tissue engineered model recreating neuromuscular junction formation and models of neuromuscular disease in vitro PhD

Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences
Entry requirements:
3 years
5 years
Reference number:
Start date:
01 April 2018
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
28 February 2018



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Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Project detail

Neuromuscular networks are known to comprise a highly organised structure which allows the assembled systems within our body to undergo thousands of functional connections, ultimately giving rise to critical physiological functions (Lee et al 2016). Central and peripheral nerve injuries, as well as several neurodegenerative diseases, can trigger the loss of such structures, often leading to severe damage in various motor and cognitive functions (Maelicke et al 1999). Efforts to recreate this complex environment in vitro typically leads to the formation of biologically unrepresentative systems characterised by random and uncontrolled neurite spreading, as well as unpredictable neuromuscular interactions. This response is often due to the homogenous 2D culture substrate that does not accurately reproduce the cues presented in vivo (Newaz et al 2010). This can limit the functionality of such a system and mean efforts to model the mechanisms associated with neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis are often flawed. Tissue engineered models represent an opportunity to create a biomimetic 3D environment that more accurately represents the in vivo physiology. This project will aim to recreate this environment utilising manufacturing processes such as photolithography, electrospinning and 3D printing. This model will aim to reproduce the neuromuscular junction formation seen in vivo through the use of targeted topographical and chemical cues, whilst co-culturing the two cell types (muscle and nerve) in a structurally and functionally representative matrix environment. The generation of such a model will allow the investigation of modalities of health, disease onset, progression and treatment for neuromuscular disease.


Primary supervisor: Professor Mark P Lewis

Secondary supervisor: Dr. Andrew Capel

Find out more

For further project details email Professor Mark P Lewis or register your interest and ask us a question.

Further information about the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences can be found on our website.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in sport and exercise science, human physiology, human biology, biochemistry or a related subject.

A relevant Master's degree and / or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Human Biology, Exercise Physiology, Biochemistry.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Please quote reference number: SSEHS/MPL/1