Past projects

The BeHEARD (Helping Empower and Accelerate Research Discoveries) Challenge is hosted annually by the Rare Genomics Institute and is open globally to researchers, foundations, or anyone whose research is constrained due to limited resources. It provides technology and financial grants for rare disease research.

Grant funded:

  • in the 2017-2018 edition, we won the bid for a technology prize from Cyagen, for a conditional knock-out vector to generate a mouse model to study a skeletal dysplasia (worth $8,950, Dr Katarzyna Pirog as lead PI)

We are constructing 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 would not be possible without the generous support of the JGW Patterson Foundation who have funded the purchase of the state of the art Flexcell FX500 TM compression  system that enables us to culture our construct under the right physiological cues. Moreover, the JGW Foundation also sponsored the generation of a lncRNA knock-out mouse in a collaborative project between KP and Prof David Young in Newcastle.

Grants funded:

  • 2013-2013 Flexcell compression system for biomechanically stimulated in vitro cartilage constructs in the investigation of osteoarthritis (lead PI: Dr Katarzyna Pirog)
  • 2015-2017 The role of long non-coding RNAs in regulating chondro-genesis and osteoarthritis: A transgenic approach (lead PI: Prof David Young, Dr Katarzyna Pirog as co-I)
  • 2015-2019 Peter May PhD studentship – Biomechanical sensing in cartilage ageing and disease (lead PI: Dr Katarzyna Pirog)

Main achievements:

sybil euThe EU-FP7 SYBIL (Systems biology for the investigation of rare and common skeletal conditions) project was a highly collaborative project between 18 centres across Europe. In our laboratory  this project funded the study of the cartilage specific overexpression of Trib1, role of aggrecan in cartilage homeostasis and disease and analysis of the role of Xbp1 and the novel ER resident molecule, Creld2, in cartilage development and disease.

Grant funded:

  • 2013-2018 SYBIL (Dr Katarzyna Pirog as co-I and work package leader (WP9), full details of the project can be found here: sybil_eufp7.net)

Main achievements:

RUBICON was an EU-funded Research and Innovation Staff Exchange network supported by funding from Horizon 2020 programme. The project focused on common and rare connective tissue disorders, and funded a series of staff exchange programs, with the aim of sharing knowledge and technical skills among the 10 international (5 European and 5 overseas) academic partners.

Grant funded:

  • 2016-2019 RUBICON (lead PI: Prof Michael Briggs, Dr Katarzyna Pirog as co-I and an exchange fellow, investigating oxidative stress pathway in chondrodysplasia

Main achievements:

  • characterisation of the oxidative stress signature in cell models of pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH)
  • generation of a fluorescent ER-localised oxidative stress probe for real time read-outs of stress responses and high-throughput drug screening