Dr Emma Blain
My research elucidates the cellular and molecular events that are involved in the mechano-regulation of articular cartilage homeostasis, the mechanism/s that propagate mechanically-mediated joint degeneration and identification of therapeutic targets for intervention. I am a Co-applicant of the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre in Cardiff University and manage the mechanical loading laboratory in the School of Biosciences (Figure 1), where I have established cell, explant and animal models to investigate how mechanical load influences joint homeostasis and pathology.
- Co-Chair: Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team
- Staff and Working Environment Committee member
- Module Leader: BI3353 Advanced Musculoskeletal Biology and Tissue Engineering
- Personal Tutor.
Interested in joining my lab as a self-funded post-graduate student or a postdoc/fellow? Please contact me by email.
1995-1998: BSc (1st Class Hons) Biochemistry with Medical Biochemistry (Cardiff)
1998-2002: PhD (BBSRC CASE Award with Amersham Biosciences, Cardiff)
2016: Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning.
Honours and awards
2008: British Society for Matrix Biology Young Investigator Award.
British Society for Matrix Biology
2014 – 2016: Lecturer, Cardiff University
2009 – 2014: Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics & Bioengineering Centre Academic Fellow
2007 – 2009: Senior Research Associate, Cardiff University
2002 – 2007: Research Associate, Cardiff University.
Committees and reviewing
I regularly review grants for the BBSRC, MRC, Dunhill Medical Trust and JGW Patterson Foundation. In addition, I review manuscripts for Arthritis & Rheumatism, Osteoarthritis & Cartilage and a number of other specialist journals in the field. I have acted as both internal and external examiner on a number of PhD, MD and MSc theses.
BI0001 - Cells and the Chemistry of Life
BI2233 - Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
BI2332 - Concepts of Disease
BI3353 - Advanced Musculoskeletal Biology and Tissue Engineering
BI3006 - Final Year Projects (laboratory and literature)
BIT001 - MSc Tissue Engineering
My research interests encompass the cellular and molecular events that are involved in the mechano-regulation of articular cartilage tissue homeostasis, the mechanism/s that propagate mechanically-mediated joint degeneration i.e. osteoarthritis and identification of therapeutic targets for intervention. More specifically, my research interests are:-
- Investigating mechano-regulation of microRNAs in articular cartilage.
- Investigating why ankle osteoarthritis only develops as a result of previous mechanical trauma.
- Elucidating the role of the chondrocyte cytoskeleton, particularly the vimentin intermediate filaments (Figure 2), in sensing mechanical load, and how these intracellular networks transduce mechanical signals into a biochemical response in articular cartilage.
- Delineating the role of the canonical and non-canonical WNT pathways in transducing mechanical signals in articular cartilage.
- Assessing the efficacy of Boswellia frereana (Somalian Frankincense) as a disease-modifying agent in osteoarthritis (Patents: EP2456451 and 201080041308.0).
- Arthritis Research UK
- EPSRC DTP
- AO UK
- British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.
- MRC DPFS (in collaboration with Newcastle University)
- Arthritis Research UK
- Dunhill Medical Trust
- Orthopaedic Research UK
- Kuwait Embassy Studentship
- BBSRC CASE Studentship (AstraZeneca)
- EPSRC Dorothy Hodgkin Studentship
- Cardiff University Partnership Fund.
- Professor David Young (Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University)
- Professor Drew Rowan (Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University)
- Professor Martin Knight (School of Engineering, Queen Mary University of London).
- Professor Vic Duance, Dr Sophie Gilbert, Dr Ahmed Ali, Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans (School of Biosciences)
- Dr Hanxing Zhu (School of Engineering)
- Dr Bronwen Evans (School of Medicine)
- Dr Craig Boote (School of Optometry)
- Mr Paul Hodgson (Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, University Hospital of Wales).
Previous PhD students
2016: Paulina Stadnik
2016: Oliver Gardner (external: AO Institute, Davos)
2015: Ayesha Al-Sabah
2014: Joanna Li (with the School of Engineering)
2010: Rebecca Harrison
2009: Siyuan Li.
2017 – present: Member of Personal and Public Involvement and Engagement committee for the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre.
2018 – present: STEM Ambassador.
I regularly contribute to public engagement activities involving patients with musculoskeletal diseases and school children. Recent public engagement activities have included Festival of the Mind (Dementia awareness week), Knee Education clinic (Cardiff and Vale Orthopaedic Centre) and attendance at the Genetics and Genomics for the Third Generation, 3G Conference informing the public on the research being conducted within the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre and within my lab.