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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership

Discovery Medicine North

Ageing and Disease

Building on existing collaborative and synergistic research excellence (e.g. CIMA) this theme encompasses research into normal and pathological ageing and brings together complementary research effort in the biology of ageing from all sites.

Linking strongly to MRC strategy in Tissue disease and degeneration, research into musculoskeletal ageing brings a new perspective to existing collaborative research within the partnership through CIMA (Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle), Newcastle’s NIHR BRC in Ageing and Chronic Disease and the new £20M National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation (NASI) at Newcastle’s Campus for Ageing and Vitality, already involved in training PhD students.

New strengths, such as the NIHR Leeds Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit (LMBRU), focused around inception cohorts and clinical imaging of musculoskeletal conditions, informs research throughout this partnership. Research training benefits from shared access to high-end technology and expertise, access to model systems that cover the musculoskeletal system as a whole, and clinical expertise and resources not available in any single university, to provide training in:

  • The processes and effects of ageing in the musculoskeletal system
  • How ageing contributes to diseases of the musculoskeletal system
  • How these may be ameliorated to help preserve mobility and independence in older people

Research into cellular ageing (senescence) combines expertise in mitochondrial function, telomere dysfunction and DNA damage during cellular senescence (Newcastle), molecular mechanisms and integrative genomics and proteomics of ageing (Liverpool), with expertise in stem cell senescence, regeneration and repair (Sheffield and Liverpool).

This theme also addresses the importance of environmental factors on human adaptability as an important determinant in healthy or unhealthy ageing. For example, aberrant healing following tissue injury can lead to a range of fibrotic diseases. PhD students in this area benefit from the combined research power in basic and translational fibrosis biology (Newcastle), in-vivo imaging of human fibrotic diseases and opportunities for in vivo modelling (including Harwell). Infection, particularly antimicrobial resistance, has important impact on human adaptability and can be mitigated by an interdisciplinary approach combining pathogen structure (Leeds), immune cell  biology, host-pathogen interaction (Liverpool), including strength in modelling immunity in vivo in zebrafish, fruit fly and mouse (Sheffield).