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PhD Fee-Waiver Scholarships

School of Engineering, Arts, Science and Technology

1. Project Title

The effect of low-frequency and low-energy Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) on muscle cell precursors: new insights into cellular mechanisms and translational research applications

Project Overview

We are looking for a motivated graduate to join our award-nominated Biotechnology Unit Lab to work on an exciting project under the supervision of Dr Federica F. Masieri.

Muscle has a high susceptibility to injury and degeneration, posing a significant burden of muscle-related injuries on the NHS.

This study aims at exploring new avenues of biophysical stimuli applications onto muscle cells. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) with selected low-frequency and low-energy biophysical characteristics have been proven to effectively counteract inflammation in a variety of musculoskeletal models in vitro and in vivo, whilst promoting anabolic activities in bone, cartilage and tendon. Interestingly, PEMF has a role in supporting the in vitro differentiation of cells of the mesenchymal lineage, whilst counteracting the detrimental activity of a pro-inflammatory milieu. Recent evidence suggests that selected PEMF stimuli control the proliferation and modulate the release of myokines in myoblast cells grown in vitro.

This project aims at refining current protocols of application of PEMF in myoblast cells grown in vitro, to further elucidate the functional role of the biophysical stimulation in controlling an inflamed microenvironment and identify cellular targets and mechanisms of actions through which PEMF may exert its function. In the first phase of the project, the effect of PEMF will be tested on at least two cell models (muscle cell line and muscle primary cells). Subsequently, the evidence obtained will be used to define, in collaboration with our national and international partners, a quasi-vivo model of muscle cell grown on a suitable biosurface, mimicking as closely as possible the architecture of a muscle fibre, to test the effect of PEMF on a scaled-up model, with a possible direct translation of the evidence collected towards a clinical study.

Supervisory Team

Dr Federica Masieri, Professor Nic Bury and Dr Aida Rajic

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Federica Masieri - 

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have or expect to receive a minimum 2.1 BSc (Hons) and MSc with Merit or above in one of the following areas: Bioscience, Biomedical Science, Bioengineering, Cell Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Sport and Exercise Science, and related disciplines. The candidate is expected to have some experience in eukaryotic cell culturing.

For EU applicants a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

Project Information

This scholarship is available for full time study only (3 - 4 years) and has a start date of 1st October 2020. The deadline for applications is 1st May 2020.


The University of Suffolk are pleased to offer this project as a fee waiver scholarship, however the ability to pursue the research project is subject to securing funding for consumables.

The cost of your PhD fees will be covered by the University, however living costs will need to be considered and accounted for by the candidate.

Please note that this Scholarship is only available to cover UK/EU student fees.

Where will I Study?

Students wishing to undertake a research degree with us will enrol and be supervised at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich and will be registered with the University of East Anglia (UEA). On successful completion, your PhD will be awarded by UEA. This partnership ensures that you are able to access high-quality supervision here in Ipswich and take advantage of the specialist areas of research on offer, whilst also getting the benefits of association with one of the UK’s best research-intensive universities. As a result of the partnership you will have access to the variety of training workshops and events held at both the University of Suffolk and UEA.  

Training and Development

An important part of your time as a research student at the University of Suffolk is working to develop the skills you need to be successful in your studies and, beyond that, after you graduate. In order to enhance the learning experience of all research students, the Graduate School runs the Researcher Development Programme (RDP).  

This programme has been developed using a skills framework created at a national level to ensure that universities across the country support the growth of a range of abilities needed by successful researchers. Through skills events and training workshops organised by the Graduate School, interaction is encouraged between students from different academic disciplines, resulting in a vibrant and supportive postgraduate community. All students can also access the training events at the University of East Anglia (UEA) at no additional cost, providing you with access to further opportunities for development and interaction with the UEA postgraduate community.  

Next Steps

If you wish to submit an application to apply for this project please complete the below application form and return this, along with a CV, to Katrina Hedley at