Role of Calcium Calmodulin Kinase II in the modulation of lipid metabolism and oxidative stress in the articular cartilage and osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), is a major musculoskeletal condition affecting 240 million people worldwide for which no cure exists other than symptomatic relief and surgical joint replacement. Progressive and irreversible articular cartilage degradation is a hallmark of the disease. The development of novel therapeutic strategies relies on a better understanding on the molecular mechanisms deregulated during disease progression to identify new pharmacological targets. 

Start date
1 October 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information
  • Full tuition fee covered (UK, EU and International)
  • Stipend at £15,609 p.a. (2021/22)
  • Research Training Support Grant of £1,000 p.a.


We previously shown that Calcium Calmodulin Kinase II (CaMKII) is involved in modulating the expression of key phenotypic markers in articular chondrocytes, the only cell type present in the articular cartilage and responsible for the maintenance of the biomechanical properties of the tissue (Nalesso et al., Journal of Cell Biology 2011).  

Aims of the projects: 

A fully funded PhD studentship is available in the laboratory of Dr Giovanna Nalesso at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. The aim of the project will be to characterise the role of CaMKII in the articular cartilage and osteoarthritis. More in detail the student will focus on investigating the role of the kinase in regulating lipid metabolism and oxidative stress.  

The student will overexpress or inhibit CaMKII in the articular cartilage by using adenoviral vectors. He/She will use gene and protein expression analysis, mass spectrometry applied to lipidomic analysis as well as tools to measure mitochondrial activity to determine the effect of the gain and loss of function experiments.  

Mass-spec lipidomic analysis will be done in collaboration with Dr Barbara Fielding at the University of Surrey. 

It is anticipated that this project will result in academic publications, intellectual property and translational potential. Therefore, we are looking for a candidate that is highly motivated to conduct world-leading research.  

Eligibility criteria

Essential Criteria:  

  • MSc degree or European equivalent degree in a relevant scientific or biomedical discipline, acquired or to be acquired  
  • before the beginning of the PhD.  
  • Self-driven, enthusiastic and a good communicator  
  • Excellent organisational skills  
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team 
  • Students without English as first language MUST provide a language certificate (overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent) before the beginning of the studentship. 


  • Experience in any of the techniques cited in the aims above.

The studentship will cover stipend, tuition and bench fees for British, European and international students. 

IELTS requirements: Students without English as first language MUST provide a language certificate (overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent) before the beginning of the studentship.  

How to apply

Before applying prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact the Dr Giovanna Nalesso. To apply please follow the instructions on the Biosciences and Medicine PhD programme page and clearly state in the application the name of the PI and the title of the project.  

Application deadline

Contact details

Giovanna Nalesso

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