Supervisors: Dr Chavaunne ThorpeDr Elizabeth Finding and Professor Caroline Wheeler-Jones

Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Project Details

Age-related tendon injuries are common in horses, particularly to the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), and treatment options are limited due to poor understanding of the mechanisms leading to age-related dysfunction. Our recent findings indicate that vascular cells localise to a region of tendon known as the interfascicular matrix (IFM) and are particularly affected by ageing, with an increased expression of senescence-associated genes in vascular cell populations. Age-related vascular cell dysfunction and senescence are associated with disease and loss of function in several tissues. Therefore, in this project we will test the hypothesis that: Microvascular cell populations in tendon undergo age-related senescence, resulting in loss of function.

This project will involve use of immunohistochemical techniques to characterize tendon microvascular cell populations and how they are affected by ageing. Vascular cells will then be isolated from tendons and signalling pathways will be modulated to establish if senescence can be reversed. The student will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team consisting of world leading experts in tendon and vascular biology.


  1. O’Brien C, Marr N, Thorpe CT. Microdamage in the equine superficial digital flexor tendon. Equine Vet J. 2020 doi:10.1111/evj.13331

  2. Zamboulis DE, Marr N, Lenzi L, Birch HL, Screen HRC, Clegg PD, Thorpe CT. The interfascicular matrix of energy storing tendons houses heterogenous cell populations disproportionately affected by ageing. Biorxiv; DOI: 10.1101/2023.01.04.522701

  3. Marr N, Zamboulis D, Werling D, Felder AA, Dudhia J, Pitsillides AA, Thorpe CT. The tendon interfascicular basement membrane provides a vascular niche for CD146+ cell subpopulations. Front. Cell Dev. Biol 2023. DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2022.1094124



  • Must meet our standard MRes entry requirements.
  • Experience of laboratory based research, data analysis and scientific writing

  • Veterinary degree is not an essential criteria


  • Experience of histology and/or immunohistochemistry

  • Experience of cell culture

  • Experience of molecular biology techniques e.g. RT-PCR


This is a full time project commencing in October 2023, based at RVC's Camden campus.

Please note that the student may be required to travel to a commercial abattoir to collect tendon samples for analysis.


Partially funded: e.g. the lab will be covering the project costs, with the MRes student expected to meet the course fees and their living expenses.

International applicants are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between "Home" and "Overseas" tuition fees.

You can find information on fees and funding online. postgraduate master's loan may be available to help cover costs.

How to Apply

For more information on the application process and English Language requirements see How to Apply.

Deadline: 26th March 2023

We welcome informal enquiries - these should be directed to 

Interview date and location: TBC (May 2023)

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