PhD Studentship - IDEA: Impact Detection of Early Arthritis

United Kingdom
Apr 23, 2018
May 31, 2018
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The overarching goal of this project is to develop a nanotechnology tool for real-time health care diagnostics to improve diagnostics of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a debilitating disease which is characterized by the degradation and loss of the articular cartilage in joints, which invariably ends up with the need for an implant. The degeneration of the tissues is hard to detect mechanically and requires highly sensitive tools to differentiate the changes, particularly in the early stages of the disease. To date only indentation using atomic force microscopy has been shown to have the sensitivity to pick up the changes in the proteoglycan matrix during early arthritis, but measurements are slow cf. Stolz M, et al. 2009. Nature Nanotechnology 4: 186-192; doi: 10.1038/NNANO.2008.410. Nanoimpact testing provides a means of testing the tissue is a way which has not previously been attempted on cartilage, but offers a technique which is capable of quickly testing the tissue at physiologically relevant rates. A typical impact lasts a fraction of a second and is more representative of the loading occurring during the strike phase of the gait cycle than standard indentation testing which loads over multiple seconds. The rapid nature of the testing technique provides a means of excluding the time dependent viscoelastic behaviour of the cartilage and provides novel outputs related to the energy absorption, dynamic hardness and elastic recovery of the material. The potential of these parameters to provide the level of sensitivity required has been previously demonstrated in differentiating between different bone tissues, and this project will aim use this sensitivity to detect early cartilage degeneration.

The Ph.D. student will be part of our team that aims to bring a new generation of diagnostic tools to the market. The University of Southampton has an established track record in generating, exploiting and managing valuable IP. Our Research and Innovation Services (RIS) are specialists in managing IP and undertake a variety of technology and knowledge transfer activities whether through promoting the dissemination and adoption of new clinical practice, or interventions, commercial research, licensing, creation of spin-out companies.

Applicants should have a strong interest in biomedical engineering and interdisciplinary team work. Ideally the candidate should have a technical background and some experience in biomedicine, nanotechnology. It is planned to start the project in 2018, preferably no later than October.  


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Richard Cook, Bioengineering research group, University of Southampton.

Email:, or Dr Martin Stolz, National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS), University of Southampton. Email:

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