Supervisors: Dr Ali Fouladi-Nashta and Dr Antonio Galvao  

Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Project Details

Hyaluronan (HA) a non-sulphated glycosaminoglycan produced by HA synthases (HAS), is an important component of ovarian follicles from the primary follicle stage, becomes prominent in the secondary follicles and its distribution is maintained through the antral follicle stages, and is the cause of cumulus cells expansion after the pre-ovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone. Preliminary data in our lab show that the Inhibition of HA synthesis during oocyte maturation, reduces maturation to MII stage and cleavage rate after in vitro fertilization, and no blastocyst could be produced from the cleaved oocytes. Ovarian stiffness increases, and expansion of cumulus cells is impaired with age. This is associated with an increase in collagen fibers and dysregulation and reduction of HA in ovaries. It is not known whether the age-related reduction in hyaluronan content of the oocyte affects maturation to metaphase II stage and its subsequent development after fertilization. 

This project aims to investigate the impact and the mechanism of age-related decline in HA content of the oocyte on events leading to meiotic abnormalities which will have negative effects on oocytes’ developmental competence.  


  1. Amargant, F., et al., Ovarian stiffness increases with age in the mammalian ovary and depends on collagen and hyaluronan matrices. Aging Cell, 2020. 19(11): p. e13259. 

  2. Babayev, E., et al., Cumulus expansion is impaired with advanced reproductive age due to loss of matrix integrity and reduced hyaluronan. Aging Cell, 2023. 22(11): p. e14004. 

  3. Marei, W.F., F. Ghafari, and A.A. Fouladi-Nashta, Role of hyaluronic acid in maturation and further early embryo development of bovine oocytes. Theriogenology, 2012. 78(3): p. 670-7. 




  • Previous works on oocytes or ovaries, or experience in Immunofluorescence/immunohistochemistry, microscopy and tissue culture experience is desirable but not essential. 

This can be taken full-time or part-time (12months FTE) project commencing in October 2024, based at RVC's Hawkshead campus. 


Self fundedThe MRes student will be expected to pay £2000 towards the laboratory consumables, meet 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. Please note that EU/EEA and Swiss national students may no longer be eligible for the “Home” rate of tuition fees, dependent on personal circumstances (including immigration status and residence history in the UK) and UK government rules which are currently being developed. For up-to-date information on fees for EU/EEA and Swiss national students following Brexit please see our fees and funding page. 

How to Apply

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

Deadline: Sunday 14th July 2024

We welcome informal enquiries - these should be directed to Dr Ali Fouladi-Nashta (

Interview date and location: TBC

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