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NDORMS DPhil & MSc by Research


This project will study the dual role of specific natural products to regulate cellular growth/function and influence pain within the musculoskeletal system.

Reduced mobility and increased fracture risk resulting from musculoskeletal deterioration, impact considerably on health services worldwide. Moreover, relieving the pain of skeletal disease is as much an issue as targeting the underlying causes, allowing sufferers to regain mobility and activity. However, the mechanisms controlling skeletal innervation and sensation, and how these may be targeted remain poorly understood.

The diet we consume has profound effects on the tissue function, particularly over time, with different ethnic regions clearly demonstrating how different dietary regimes and constituents lead to beneficial (and detrimental) health benefits. Our research suggests targeting specific transcriptional regulators with dietary components found in red wine, chocolate (such as polyphenols) and cheese and grains (polyamines), may improve bone cell activity and reduce pain.

This proposal will investigate whether specific plant-derived natural products might target both the underlying cellular causes of musculoskeletal disease (including arthritis and cancer-bone metastases) and the associated pain.

The project will use a wide variety of cutting edge technologies including real-time imaging, genome-wide ChIP-seq, and a powerful combination of genetically modified mouse models and cellular and molecular techniques and advanced microscopy. Training will be provided in all aspects of the research but previous laboratory experience is desirable.  

The student will be embedded within a mixed group consisting of current D.Phil students, post-doctoral researchers, clinical fellows and technical support staff based in the Botnar Research Centre. The student will attend weekly lab meetings and regular Focus Group meetings and is encouraged to engage with relevant learning opportunities on offer by the University of Oxford. The student will be a member of the Nuffield Dept. of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences. An initial D.Phil training programme and regular seminar series is provided, introducing all students to the multidisciplinary nature of the department.


  1. Musculoskeletal science
  2. Molecular, cellular & systems biology
  3. Genes, Genetics, Epigenetics & genomics


The Botnar Research Centre plays host to the University of Oxford's Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences, which enables and encourages research and education into the causes of musculoskeletal disease and their treatment.

A core curriculum of lectures will be taken in the first term to provide a solid foundation in a broad range of subjects including musculoskeletal biology, inflammation, epigenetics, translational immunology and data analysis.

Students will attend seminars within the department and those relevant in the wider University. Students will be expected to present data regularly to the department, and to attend external national and international conferences to present their research globally.

How to Apply

The department accepts applications throughout the year but it is recommended that, in the first instance, you contact the relevant supervisor(s) or the Directors of Graduate Studies who will be able to advise you of the essential requirements.

Interested applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class BSc degree or equivalent, and will also need to provide evidence of English language competence. The University requires candidates to formally apply online and for their referees to submit online references via the online application system.

The application guide and form is found online and the DPhil or MSc by research will commence in October 2018.

When completing the online application, please read the University Guide.

Project reference number #NDORMS-2018/12


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