Modulation of exosome release and composition by environmental stress: what is the impact on bone remodelling?

Dr Isabel Orriss. Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College
Prof Timothy Arnett. Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, University College London
Dr Gill Holdsworth, UCB

Project Description

Bone homeostasis reflects the tightly regulated actions of osteocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts; dysregulation of these systems can lead to bone disease. Osteoblasts are the bone-forming cells which, when incorporated into bone matrix, can terminally differentiate into osteocytes. Osteocytes, the most abundant cells in bone, form an extensive communication network that plays a central role in regulating bone turnover. Oxygen tension and pH have a profound effect on bone cell function with hypoxia (≤2% oxygen) and acidosis (pH7.0) (being implicated in the development of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Exosomes are small membrane-bound particles released from cells. They contain a diverse array of signalling molecules (e.g. proteins, miRNAs) and are increasingly being viewed as key mechanism by which cells regulate local extracellular signalling. It is now recognised that exosomes can contribute to the pathogenesis of common bone diseases but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. This multidisciplinary PhD research project will investigate how exosomes released from osteoblasts and osteocytes regulate bone remodelling under normal and stress conditions (e.g. hypoxia, acidosis). This project is the result of collaboration between the bone research groups at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University College London (UCL) and UCB Pharma. UCB is a global pharmaceutical company with a keen interest in developing therapeutics for bone disease. The studentship will be based at the RVC campus in Camden with regular visits to UCL (Bloomsbury). The successful candidate will also spend at least 3 months working in the UCB research laboratories in Slough, Berkshire.


The ideal candidate for this position will be enthusiastic and have a keen interest in bone biology. This should be coupled with an enquiring mind and a strong desire to learn and make new discoveries. Due to the wide range of experimental approaches to be employed in this studentship the applicant should have experience working in a research laboratory environment (either academic or industrial). Expertise in cell culture (particularly bone cell culture), molecular biology, imaging and/or exosome biology would be advantageous but is not essential as full training will be provided.

Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (for example BA, BSc, MSci) or a Masters degree in a relevant subject. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Isabel Orriss ( in advance of the deadline, 20th January 2017 at 5pm.

To apply you will need to send the following documents in a single email to: All documents must be submitted in unprotected PDF format.

  • Completed Application Form (Sections A and B) including details of two Academic References
  • The disability and ethnic origin monitoring form
  • Official Final Transcripts from Completed Programmes of Study
  • Official Interim Transcripts from On-going Programmes of Study
  • English Language Qualification (if required, please see below)
  • Academic CV
  • Copy of Passport

Please click the relevant links below to download a zipped folder of application documents in your preferred format.
Application Pack (Word).zip
Application Pack (PDF).zip