Extracellular matrix regulation of bladder epithelial cell proliferation

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship should start on 1 October 2021.


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Medical Studies, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

DoS: Dr Matt Jones

2nd Supervisor: Professor Oliver Hanemann

3rd Supervisor: Dr Pete Sankey – psankey@nhs.net

Project description

The mature urothelium, the epithelial surface that lines the bladder, is largely quiescent and has a low proliferation rate in comparison to other tissues such as the skin and intestine, with the epithelial cells being induced to proliferate in response to injury. This balance between quiescence and proliferation is therefore crucial to maintaining the proper function of the bladder. Too little proliferation and the tissue is unable to regenerate correctly leading to exposure to toxins and pathogens, whereas excessive proliferation can lead to tumour development and bladder cancer. One of the factors that is able to influence this balance between proliferation and quiescence is the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is a complex network of macromolecules that supports and surrounds cells, providing structural and biochemical information that determines cellular behaviour, tissue structure and function. Rather than being a passive framework for cells to attach to, the ECM is highly dynamic with changes in composition and physical properties being required for physiological processes such as wound healing, but also contributing to the development of cancer.

The successful candidate for this PhD studentship will utilise cutting edge microscopy techniques, flow cytometry, proteomic approaches and Western blotting to determine how the ECM is able to determine whether bladder epithelial cells are quiescent or proliferative. Furthermore, the ECM within bladder tumours and generated by primary bladder cancer stromal cells will be characterised using proteomics, and the role of these ECM proteins in bladder epithelial and cancer cell proliferation determined using 2D and 3D models.


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant masters qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Matt Jones.

Please refer to the list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon 16 July 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview around 11 August. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.