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Leo William Edward Hipkiss

DPhil Student

I previously studied for my BSc (Honours) in Forensic Science at the University of Wolverhampton which through an unconventional pathway lead me to the world of cartilage research. Following this degree I received the Kennedy Prize Studentship to begin reading for DPhil in Musculoskeletal Sciences.

My project is related to cartilage and its low oxygen (hypoxic) environment. Human articular cartilage is a shock absorbing and load bearing tissue, and as a result of this function, is avascular. The lack of a blood supply to the tissue results in a hypoxic environment. The exclusive cell type in cartilage, chondrocytes, appear well adapted to hypoxia. The chondrocyte response to hypoxia is primarily mediated by hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs). Previous research conducted in our group has detailed the response to hypoxia in healthy human articular chondrocytes (HACs)/cartilage. This research found that hypoxia increased both the anabolic and anti-catabolic functions of the chondrocyte and that manipulation of this system could further enhance these effects. However the response of OA chondrocytes to hypoxia and the activity of HIF are less clearly understood.

The aim of my project is to elucidate the response of chondrocytes/cartilage, from human osteoarthritic (OA) patients, to hypoxia. Identifying any changes to the system and potentially identify an area for manipulation that could provide therapeutic benefit.