Current projects

The NC3Rs have kindly funded our PhD project that combines the expertise of two supervisors (a cartilage biologist and a tissue engineer) to develop a bioprinted mechanically responsive tissue engineered model of cartilage and use it to generate a transcriptomic and proteomic profile of healthy cartilage ageing.

Grant funded:

  • 2021-2023 Investigating biomechanical responses in healthy and diseases ageing cartilage – a tissue engineering approach (lead PI: Dr Katarzyna Pirog, co-I: Dr Ana Ferreira Duarte)

We are currently hosting a CIMA MRes project looking at mechanosensing in healthy cartilage ageing and in age-related disease, in a tissue engineered model, in collaboration with Newcastle University School of Engineering.

Dunhill Medical Trust have kindly funded our project aiming to investigate the role of small extracellular matrix protein asporin in healthy cartilage ageing and in age- and injury-induced disease. This exiting project is using a combination of animal models and tissue engineering to further our understanding of musculoskeletal ageing and will lead to novel therapies increasing the quality of life in the modern ageing population.

Grant funded:

  • 2019-2022 Investigating the role of a small leucine rich protein asporin in cartilage ageing and age-related disease (lead PI: Dr Katarzyna Pirog, co-I: Prof David Young)


We are using various hydrogels to construct a zonally stratified model of cartilage, which we will use as a tool to investigate cartilage differentiation and cell-matrix interactions in ageing and in rare skeletal conditions. Developing this exciting model to study cartilage cells and their reaction to their immediate environment would not be possible without the generous support of the JGW Patterson Foundation who have funded an equipment grant (2013) and the Peter May PhD project (2015-19). The JGW Patterson have also kindly funded a 4 year PhD project starting in 2019 and looking at the role of a small extracellular matrix protein asporin in musculoskeletal ageing.

Grant funded:

  • 2019-2023 PhD studentiship in Ageing and Arthritis – Investigating the role of asporin in musculoskeletal ageing (lead PI: Dr Katarzyna Pirog, co-I: Prof David Young)

MCDS-Therapy  is a scientist-led international collaboration of 11 organisations, funded by the European Union to deliver the clinical trial. We are working closely with patients to deliver the treatment and hope to help develop the global community of MCDS patients through our work. Ultimately, we plan to pioneer an academic drug repurposing pathway, capable of delivering a transformative treatment for a rare patient population from bench to bedside, independent of the pharmaceutical industry.

Grant funded:

  • 2018-2023 MCDS-Therapy (lead PI: Prof Michael Briggs, Dr Katarzyna Pirog as co-I, full details of the project can be found here:

Main achievements: